By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic are eager to expand ties in transport.
The Czech Republic is interested in cargo transportation via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway, Marta Novakova, the Czech Minister of Industry and Trade, told Trend.
Moreover, she emphasized that the Czech company Moravia Steel a.s. currently keeps to modernize the BTK railway.
Novakova noted that new projects on modernization of transport infrastructure, such as reconstruction of road and railway networks in Azerbaijan represent great opportunities for the Czech entrepreneurs.
The official opening of the BTK railway was held at the Baku International Sea Trade Port on October 30 2017. BTK was constructed on the basis of a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement. The railway’s peak capacity will be 17 million tons of cargo per year. At the initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo.
Providing the shortest rail link between Europe and Asia, BTK plays an important role in the implementation of China's "One Belt, One Road" strategy and International North-South Transport Corridor.
Azerbaijan is the main trade partner of the Czech Republic among the countries of the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan's share accounts for 85 percent of the Czech Republic’s trade with the countries of the South Caucasus.
Trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic stood at $1.04 billion in 2018, according to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan. Around $938.4 million of this amount accounted for the export of Azerbaijani products. The trade turnover between the two countries has increased by 36.5 as compared to the same period of 2017, while the export of Azerbaijani products to this country has almost doubled.
Azerbaijan is a strategic partner for the Czech Republic and plays an important role in ensuring the country's energy security.
The main product exported from Azerbaijan to the Czech Republic is crude oil, the volume of which totals 2-2.5 million tons per year, making up a third of the oil consumed in the Czech Republic. Azerbaijan is the second biggest oil supplier to the Czech Republic after Russia. Over 80 percent of the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic accounts for oil and oil products.
Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic are holding talks to sign a new energy agreement. The essence of the document is to underline the strategic importance of supplies of Azerbaijani oil to the Czech Republic, but also to facilitate the cooperation in the development of alternative energy sources.
Both countries are interested in increasing the value of mutual investments. So far, the investments of the Czech Republic in Azerbaijan have amounted to $30 million. Currently, 25 Czech companies are operating in Azerbaijan. The Czech companies are contractors in eight state projects, the total value of which exceeds $2 billion.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is the most important project of Azerbaijan, in which the Czech Republic is involved. Czech company Moravia Steel has been involved in the reconstruction process of the Azerbaijani BTK segment.
Czech companies are interested in the development of relations with Azerbaijan in such areas as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, transport, tourism, construction, infrastructure projects.
Czech companies are actively participating in modernization of road and rail networks in Azerbaijan.
As of April, 2015, in order to implement the second phase of the "Reconstruction of Azerbaijani Railways" project, an agreement was signed between Azerbaijan Railways CJSC and the Czech MORAVIA STEEL Group A.S. company as an addendum to the export contract "On material and technical supply and overhaul of the 600-kilometer Baku-Boyuk-Kesik section of railways of the Republic of Azerbaijan".
Czech Republic also implemented other projects in Azerbaijan such as the installation of turbines produced in the Czech Republic, the Takhtakorpu hydro power plant, the reconstruction of several roads.
Recently, a memorandum was signed between Ganja Automobile Plant production association and Tatra company, that envisages the assembly of Czech-made Tatra trucks in Azerbaijan. The production will be launched within the next two years.
In 2019, the next meeting of the Azerbaijani-Czech intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation will be held in Prague.
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