By Leman Mammadova
Italy is a reliable partner of Azerbaijan in Europe with whom bilateral beneficial cooperation exists in all areas. Both states enjoy high level of economic cooperation and intend to intensify ties as the relations in the economic sphere bring real benefits to both sides.
Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev met with the Italian deputy minister of economic development Andrea Cioffi, who is on a visit to Azerbaijan to attend the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council.
Mustafayev stressed the successful continuation of cooperation between the two countries.
Speaking about bilateral economic relations at the meeting, the minister noted that Italy is the main trade partner of Azerbaijan and is in the first place in exports.
“So, the trade turnover between the two countries increased by 10 percent and amounted to $6.2 billion in 2018,” he said.
“Italy is involved in twinning projects which are being implemented in Azerbaijan within the cooperation with the EU,” he said. “Italian companies are successfully operating in Azerbaijan. A few days ago, the opening ceremony of SOCAR-Polymer plant was held, the contractor of which is the Italian company Maire Tecnimont.”
He emphasized that Italian companies successfully operate in Azerbaijan. The SOCAR-Polymer plant (the contractor is the Italian company Maire Tecnimont) was commissioned a few days ago.
“The participation of the presidents of both countries at the opening ceremony of the first phase of this plant in 2018 testifies to the importance attached to the development of bilateral ties,” Mustafayev said.
Stressing the role of Azerbaijan in global energy security, the minister underlined that the Southern Gas Corridor project, TANAP strengthened Azerbaijan’s position as an important energy provider, boosted cooperation among the participating countries. TAP project, which will transport Azerbaijani gas to Italy, is implemented successfully.
Increased transit opportunities of Azerbaijan, important projects - North-South, East-West transport corridors, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, Baku International Sea Trade Port create great opportunities for the development of transit-logistics cooperation.
Azerbaijan and Italy are preparing a new agreement on mutual investment promotion.
“Presently, the work is underway on a new draft agreement on the promotion and protection of investments between Azerbaijan and Italy, on a joint action plan, envisaging the expansion of cooperation in various sectors of the economy,” he said.
Mustafayev noted that Azerbaijan is interested in expanding relations with Italy in non-oil sector, energy, infrastructure, transport, ICT, tourism, agriculture, wine-making and others.
He invited Italian businessmen to take advantage of favorable business conditions in Azerbaijan, to establish joint enterprises on the production of machine-building, home appliances, light industry and pharmacy in the industrial parks and estates.
In turn, Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Andrea Cioffi stressed the importance of high-level reciprocal visits in the development of cooperation, as well as fruitful discussions on expanding relations in the non-oil sector. Andrea Cioffi briefed on the interest of Italian companies to work in Azerbaijan and shared views on the development of directions of cooperation.
Diplomatic relations between the two states were established in 1992.
Baku and Rome are strategic partners in the energy sector.
Since 1995 ENI Italian company has been involved in several projects on the operation of oil and gas fields in Azerbaijan, which laid the foundation for economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Italy
Italy has begun to receive a large part of Azerbaijani oil exported through the Baku - Supsa pipeline since 1999 and then through the Baku - Jeyhan. This made Italy the number one partner for Azerbaijan and this position is maintained until today.
Accompanied by a solid consolidation of the political dialogue, bilateral economic relations have further strengthened following the signing of a Joint Declaration for the establishment of an Italian-Azerbaijani Council for Economic, Industrial and Financial in 2004.
The intensification in the relations between Azerbaijan and Italy is observed over the last years.
Italy is an important economic and trade partner of Azerbaijan. Italy accounts for about 20 percent of our trade turnover with foreign countries. The trade turnover with Italy was approximately $4.7 billion in 2017. Azerbaijan exports to Italy mainly oil and oil products, as well as chemical industry products, while Italy supplies products, light and food industry products to Azerbaijan.
As many as 95 Italian companies, which participate in 41 contracting projects under interstate agreements, have been registered in Azerbaijan. In total, the investments of Italian companies in Azerbaijan have amounted to about $530 million, and the volume of Azerbaijani investments in Italy is estimated at $135 million.
Two countries have great potential for expanding economic relations, in particular in such areas as energy, agriculture, industry, trade, investment, transport, environment.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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