By Leman Mammadova
Trade relations are one of the main directions of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Serbia.
Minister of Economy, co-chair of the Azerbaijan-Serbia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation Shahin Mustafayev met with Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic, who is on a visit to Azerbaijan.
During the meeting, the sides discussed prospects of cooperation and economic relations between the two countries.
Mustafayev emphasized that there are wide opportunities for development of cooperation between our countries in various spheres of economy, including trade, investment, industry, energy, agriculture, transport, tourism and ICT, and shared views on expanding relations in these spheres.
In turn, Ljajic said that his country is interested in expanding relations with Azerbaijan, developing cooperation in trade, investment, tourism and agriculture.
Later, Azerbaijani-Serbian business meeting was held with the support of the Ministry of Economy, the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) and the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of Serbia.
Mustafayev said that Azerbaijan and Serbia successfully cooperate in infrastructure construction noting that Serbia can use transport and transit opportunities in Azerbaijan. The opportunities for cooperation in tourism, agriculture, ICT and other spheres are extensive.
More than 30 documents have been signed between our countries so far, the trade turnover in 2017 has increased by 36 percent and 33 percent in January-September 2018.
Noting the importance of the events organized by the business circles, Rasim Ljajic stressed that the events of businessmen can be held in Serbia in 2019. Ljajic informed about privileges of the investments in Serbia, and invited Azerbaijani businessmen to invest in his country.
Chairman of the Azerbaijani Tourism Agency Fuad Nagiyev informed about the development of tourism in our country, the strategy implemented in this field, and presented the tourism development in Azerbaijan.
State Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of Serbia, Miroslav Knežević, Director of Sokobanja Tourism Organization Ljubinko Milenkovic, director of Park Palic, Nebojsa Darabosa, Director of Special Rehabilitation Hospital “Rusanda”, Zorica Culibrk made presentations to promote the tourism opportunities of Serbia.
The Azerbaijan-Serbia bilateral relation develop in all areas, and the potential of cooperation is estimated at a high level.
The Declaration on Friendship and Strategic Partnership between Azerbaijan and Serbia signed in 2013, the Joint Action Plan on Strategic Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Serbia signed in May 2018 and the fifth meeting of the Azerbaijan-Serbia intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation held in this month play an important role in expanding cooperation.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on August 21, 1997. Over all these years, the countries have been successfully cooperating within international organizations and enjoyed sustainable development of ties in many spheres, such as political, economic, scientific, cultural and humanitarian fields.
Serbia is interested in the operation of Azerbaijani companies in the country. The country stated that Azerbaijan can invest in any sphere in Serbia and Serbia is ready to provide Azerbaijani companies with various privileges, preferences and subsidies in the amount of 15 to 20 percent depending on the amount of investments.
Azerbaijani company Azvirt participates in infrastructure projects in Serbia. AzVirt implemented the major road project in Serbia based on the document signed between Azerbaijan and Serbia in 2012. In 2012, the government of Azerbaijan provided a 308 million euro loan for a period of 25 years with a three-year grace period at a rate of four percent per annum for the construction of the highway in Serbia. The loan financed the construction of the Ljig-Boljkovci, Boljkovci-Takovo, and Takovo-Preljina sections of E-763 highway. Meanwhile, AzVIRT plans to implement the second major road project in Serbia.
Azerbaijan’s trade turnover with Serbia increased to $ 5.5 million in 2017, by 36 percent and in the first nine months of 2018 - by 33 percent, according to Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee. Almost the entire volume of the trade turnover accounted for the imports of Serbian products to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani export to Serbia amounted to $ 18,000 while imports to Azerbaijan made $ 5,48 million.
Bilateral cooperation in tourism is also developing. In 2017, the number of Serbian citizens visiting Azerbaijan increased by 14 percent. Moreover, the visa regime with Azerbaijan was abolished on June 2, 2018.
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