By Rashid Shirinov
A memorandum of understanding, aimed at expanding and strengthening economic and trade ties as well as business relations between azerbaijan and India, will be signed within a business forum on March 13, Indian Ambassador to Baku Sanjay Rana said at a press conference in Baku on March 12.
The chambers of commerce and industry of Azerbaijan and India, the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organizations of Azerbaijan, and the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) will sign the document, the ambassador noted.
The Secretary General of the Indian Commerce and Industry Chamber Saurabh Sanyal, in turn, noted that Azerbaijan and India need to expand trade turnover. Noting that this figure was $462 million in 2017, he said that it does not correspond to the available potential.
India and Azerbaijan enjoy close friendly relations based on historical links and growing bilateral cooperation. Data of Azerbaijani State Customs Committee shows that of $462.5 million trade turnover last year, export from Azerbaijan to India amounted to $365.5 million. As for India’s export to Azerbaijan, it rose by more than 60 percent in 2017. The items of imports from India are mainly clothes and textiles, information technologies, food items and heavy machinery.
Rana also said that Indian companies are interested in establishing joint ventures with Azerbaijan in the field of pharmaceutics.
“India is famous for its pharmaceutical industry. Indian companies are interested in opening joint ventures in the field of pharmaceutics, in particular in the territory of the Pirallahi Industrial Park,” he noted.
The diplomat said that negotiations are already underway in order to establish such an enterprise in Azerbaijan by India’s Sun Pharma and Azerbaijan’s Gilan Holding.
Currently, a number of plants for production of pharmaceutical products, including joint Azerbaijani-Russian and Azerbaijani-Iranian plants, are being created in the Pirallahi Industrial Park. Ukraine and Belarus have also expressed interest in setting up joint pharmaceutical ventures.
The Pirallahi Industrial Park, specializing in the production of pharmaceutical products, was established by the presidential order in September 2016. Investors engaged in industrial parks in Azerbaijan are exempted from the value added tax (VAT), customs duties, as well as contributions on compulsory state social insurance for seven years.
Rana also noted that Azerbaijan and India are discussing the opening of direct flights. He said that on March 13, a delegation from India will arrive in Baku to hold talks with Azerbaijan Airlines CJSC.
“Direct flights will help to increase the tourist flow between the countries and develop business relations. Negotiations in this direction are being held, however, only at the initial level,” the diplomat said.
Previously, Rana noted that in addition to regular flights, the possibility of launching commercial flights is being discussed with entrepreneurs. “This, of course, will depend on the development of inexpensive packages in accordance with the needs of tourists,” said Rana.
Given that Azerbaijan has been gaining prominence in the world tourism map over recent years, easier and faster travel by direct flights with India could further improve the tourism sector of both countries. Direct flights would also create new business opportunities in tourism.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz