By Rashid Shirinov
Azerbaijan and India signed memorandums of understanding on March 13, which took place during the joint business forum in Baku.
The memos were signed by Indian PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Azerbaijani Entrepreneurs, as well as the PHD and the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO).
They were inked by Secretary General of the Indian Commerce and Industry Chamber Saurabh Sanyal, President of the Confederation of Azerbaijani Entrepreneurs Mammad Musayev and AZPROMO head Rufat Mammadov.
The documents are aimed at expanding and strengthening the economic and trade ties, as well as business relations between Azerbaijan and India.
Addressing the business forum, Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Firdovsi Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is interested in expanding cooperation with India in several spheres, and of the priority spheres of cooperation is cargo transportation.
“Indian cargoes are mainly delivered to Europe by sea via the Suez Canal. In this regard, the International North-South Transport Corridor project being implemented by Azerbaijan jointly with neighboring states will allow transporting cargo from India by land, which will significantly shorten the time and cost of the transportation,” Aliyev noted.
He expressed the hope that the implementation of this project will give impetus to the development of relations between the two countries in the field of cargo transportation.
The International North–South Transport Corridor is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. The corridor is planned to transport 5 million tons of cargo per year at the initial stage and more than 10 million tons of cargo in the future.
Aliyev also noted tourism and pharmaceuticals as promising areas for cooperation.
“We are in talks for the creation of direct regular and charter flights between our countries. I believe that this will make it possible to increase the tourist flow from India to Azerbaijan and vice versa,” he said. “It is also important to develop cooperation between the two countries in the field of pharmaceuticals. Several pharmaceutical plants are being created in Azerbaijan. It will be interesting for India with its rich history of pharmacy to invest in this sphere.”
It is noteworthy that negotiations are already underway in order to establish a joint venture in the field of pharmaceutics by India’s Sun Pharma and Azerbaijan’s Gilan Holding in country’s Pirallahi Industrial Park, which also accommodates joint Azerbaijani-Russian and Azerbaijani-Iranian plants. Also, Ukraine and Belarus expressed interest in setting up joint pharma ventures.
Rufat Mammadov, addressing the business forum, said that India has invested $200 million in Azerbaijan so far, while 15 companies with Indian capital work in Azerbaijan today.
“Meanwhile, India is one of the biggest trade partners of Azerbaijan. In recent years, trade turnover with India has grown rapidly and amounted to about $0.5 billion in late 2017. This is a very important indicator,” he noted.
Mammadov also mentioned that India is one of the biggest importers of Azerbaijani products – it accounted for 2.65 percent of Azerbaijani exports in 2017.
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 exports to Azerbaijan, it rose by more than 60 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. The items of imports from India are mainly clothes and textiles, information technologies, food items and heavy machinery.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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