By Leman Mammadova
The Azerbaijani delegation led by Shahin Mustafayev, co-chair of the State Commission for Economic, Commercial and Humanitarian Affairs between Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran is on a visit to Iran.
During the visit, the delegation led by Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev held several meetings.
Speaking about the Azerbaijani-Iranian relations at the meeting with Iran's Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mohammad Eslami, Minister Shahin Mustafayev underlined the importance of expanding cooperation between two countries in recent years.
Iranian investments in Azerbaijan reached $3.4 billion.
So far, more than 150 documents have been signed between our countries. More than 1000 Iranian companies registered in Azerbaijan in industry, construction, services, communications, trade, transport, agriculture and other spheres.
Shahin Mustafayev emphasized the successful cooperation of two countries in the field of transport and transit along with industry, energy, agriculture, trade, health, tourism, border-customs and other spheres, the role of both countries in the development of the North-South International Transport Corridor. He also noted that the development of the transport corridor would have a positive impact on the expansion of Azerbaijan - Iran economic cooperation, in particular, transport, trade and tourism.
Iran's Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mohammed Eslami said that his country attaches great importance to the expansion of relations with Azerbaijan and consistent measures were taken to develop the Azerbaijani-Iranian relations.
The meeting focused on the expansion of transport and transit relations between Azerbaijan and Iran.
During the visit, the delegation led by Shahin Mustafayev met with Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, co-chair of the State Commission for Economic, Commercial and Humanitarian Affairs between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran Farhad Dejpasand.
Speaking about economic and trade relations between the two countries, Shahin Mustafayev noted that in the past period, continuous measures were taken to develop trade relations and the trade turnover increased by 74 percent to $ 446 million in 2018.
Within the framework of joint projects between Azerbaijan and Iran, cars are being produced in Neftchala Industrial Zone. Azerbaijan-Iran clinic was opened in Baku, foundation of joint pharmacy plant in Pirallahi Industrial Park.
Shahin Mustafayev noted the potential for further expansion of the mutual trade and diversification of its structure, as well as opportunities for the development of relations in the fields of agriculture, tourism, transit and transportation.
The Iranian Minister Farhad Dejpasand emphasized the work done for the expansion of cooperation between our countries in recent years and noted that the 13th meeting of the State Commission planned to be held in Baku in March this year will be an important platform for discussing the development of economic relations between our countries.
The sides exchanged views on the issues of expansion of ties in economic, trade, financial and other spheres.
Farhad Dejpasand said after meeting with Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan Shahin Mustafayev that Iran and Azerbaijan discussed the possibility of signing agreements in the financial sector.
The minister noted that an agreement has been reached to conduct primary research in this direction. At the same time, Dejpasand proposed to create a special group to monitor the implementation of the agreements.
In general, the Iranian minister, assessing today's meeting, noted that it opened a new page in bilateral relations between the countries. He added further that the parties also discussed various economic projects.
Later, Azerbaijani delegation led by Shahin Mustafayev met with Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian.
Minister Mustafayev noted that Azerbaijan and Iran also successfully cooperate in the energy sector.
Mustafayev added that Marazad, Khudaferin, and Qiz Qalasi Hydroelectric Power Stations, as well as the integration of electricity from Azerbaijan’s Imishli to Iran’s Parsabad, are among the successful joint projects between the two countries.
Iranian Minister Reza Ardakanian stressed that his country is interested in expanding cooperation with Azerbaijan in energy sector, as well as in other spheres, and stressed the importance of implemented projects in the development of energy systems of both Iran and Azerbaijan.
The meeting focused on the trilateral cooperation potential in the “Azerbaijan – Iran – Russia”, “Azerbaijan – Iran – Georgia” and “Azerbaijan - Iran – Turkey” formats.
According to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, trade with Iran in 2018 amounted to $446 million, $414.8 million of which accounted for imports of Iranian products.
The trade turnover between the two countries is planned to reach $2 billion in short term perspective, he said. Reaching $2 billion milestone in trade turnover within 7-8 years can be seen as success for both countries.
Iran sees Azerbaijan as a hub to reach larger regional markets. The cooperation on transportation between Iran and Russia through Azerbaijan is crucial in the realization of the International North-South Transport Corridor project.
In the framework of the North-South transport corridor, Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia signed an agreement in 2005 on the construction of 375 km long Astara-Resht-Qazvin railway. It envisages the construction of a new railway line in Iran, which will connect Astara, Azerbaijan to the Iranian cities of Astara, Rasht and Qazvin as well as the reconstruction of an existing railway in Azerbaijan.
The railway between Astara regions of Azerbaijan and Iran has been already completed. The Qazvin-Rasht railway has recently been completed. The foundation of the Rasht-Astara railway is not yet laid.
The opening ceremony of the Qazvin-Rasht railway is to be held on March 6, 2019 in Iran’s Gilan Province.
The Azerbaijani-Iranian relations have developed and reached a new stage over the past four years as a result of mutual efforts.
Azerbaijan and Iran share common values, history and traditions that bound them. The two countries are eager to develop their non-oil economy, integrate regional transport networks and boost mutually advantageous business projects in order to stimulate trade volume.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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