By Rashid Shirinov
Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic have great potential for the development of relations in many areas, Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev said at the Azerbaijan-Czech business forum in Baku on September 12.
“Our countries have great potential for the development of relations in finance, industry, engineering and chemical industry,” he said.
The minister noted the planned cooperation between the Ganja automobile plant and Tatra company, and emphasized the development of relations in pharmaceuticals.
“Last year, the Ganja automobile plant signed a Memorandum of cooperation with Tatra, which implies the assembly of Tatra trucks. I think that production will start within the next two years,” Mustafayev said.
He also noted the participation of Czech companies in the development of the transport system of Azerbaijan, and spoke about great opportunities in construction of railway cars, in particular of boxcars, as well as in production of railway containers.
The minister further stressed that both countries are interested in increasing mutual investments.
“To date, the Czech Republic’s investments in Azerbaijan amount to $30 million, and Azerbaijan’s investments in the Czech Republic are slightly more than this figure,” Mustafayev noted.
He said presently there are 25 Czech companies operating in Azerbaijan, and Czech companies are contractors in eight projects, the total cost of which exceeds $2 billion.
“Of course, these indicators are far from our ability, and we need to continue to increase mutual investments,” the minister mentioned.
Mustafayev further noted that Azerbaijan is the main trading partner of the Czech Republic among the South Caucasus countries, as it accounts for 85 percent of the Czech Republic’s trade with the countries of the region.
“At the end of 2017, Azerbaijan’s trade turnover with the Czech Republic more than doubled compared to the end of 2016. It is encouraging that the positive trend continues this year,” the minister said, noting that in the first half of this year the trade turnover increased almost twice compared to the same period last year.
Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Marta Novakova, in turn, said that her country is interested in establishing joint ventures with Azerbaijan.
She noted that pharmaceuticals and petrochemical industry are of the greatest interest for Czech entrepreneurs, and mentioned the possibility of creating a joint venture for railway car production.
“The Czech Republic has good experience in the production of trains. Therefore, we are studying the possibility of joint production of railway cars,” the minister said.
Novakova further noted that the Azerbaijani market is attractive for Czech companies.
“Azerbaijan is our traditional partner. There are no political or economic problems between us. We are ready to share our experience with Azerbaijani partners and offer technologies in household waste processing, construction, transport, energy and pharmaceuticals,” she said.
The Czech minister also noted the opportunities to create joint ventures in the petrochemical field, and reminded that a regular meeting of the Azerbaijani-Czech intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation will be held in Prague in 2019.
Novakova said that the Czech Republic is interested in increasing oil imports from Azerbaijan, and that currently her country imports a third of the oil it consumes from Azerbaijan.
“Today we have most of the oil processed at the Kralupy refinery. The increase in imports directly depends on the increase in refinery capacity. Unfortunately, we cannot influence this issue, as the refinery is currently managed by a Polish company. But negotiations are already underway on this issue,” she noted.
The diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic were established in January 1993. Today, Azerbaijan significantly increases the energy security of the Czech Republic, since it is the second largest oil supplier to the Czech Republic after Russia. Oil and oil products account for more than 80 percent of the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.
Czech entrepreneurs, in turn, play active role in Azerbaijan’s economy through involving as contractors in various projects in the country.
The data of Azerbaijan State Customs Committee say that the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic amounted to $473 million in January-July 2018, of which almost $394.3 million accounted for the export of Azerbaijani products to the Czech Republic.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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