By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan is attracting many foreign countries to further deepen economic cooperation due to its growing economy and implementation of infrastructure projects of regional significance.
Latvia is interested in working together with Azerbaijan on land transport connections, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs said in an interview with Trend.
"Transit is an important part of Latvia’s economy. Together with related industries, it accounts for 3 percent of our GDP. Recognizing the sector’s importance, Latvia is constantly working to upgrade its capacity and offer better services to our partners. Improvement of transport networks and infrastructure is also a priority for the European Union’s Eastern Partnership policy, which we actively support," said the foreign minister.
He noted that Latvia is interested in working together with Azerbaijan on land transport connections between Asia, Central Asia, the Black Sea countries and Northern Europe.
"As we see it, there are two important international transport corridors passing through Azerbaijan: the North-South International Corridor, eventually with a connection to the Baltic Sea region; and the Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia (TRACECA), which is a part of the New Silk Road and creates a strategic link between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea," said Rinkēvičs.
Therefore, according to the minister, Azerbaijan is an important partner to Latvia in the development of new transport routes in Eurasia.
Latvia and Azerbaijan have common interests in the railway and port infrastructure, and both countries benefit from this cooperation, he added.
Touching upon the investment issues, Minister said that Latvia would welcome investments from Azerbaijan in ports and logistics centers.
Noting that Latvian companies are working in Azerbaijan’s market in transport and logistics, engineering, IT and telecommunications, architecture, tourism and education sectors, the foreign minister said Latvia is interested in expanding this cooperation.
"In 2018, Azerbaijan opened its Trade House in Riga seeking to build stronger economic cooperation with Latvia. Azerbaijani companies have shown an interest in developing contacts with Latvia in the food, pharmaceutical, environmental, agricultural and industrial sectors. Latvia would welcome investments from Azerbaijan in ports and logistics centres. This April, we look ahead to hosting a business delegation from Azerbaijan. Hopefully, this visit will contribute to boosting our economic exchanges," said Rinkēvičs.
He went on to add that investment in small and medium-sized business would bring a lot of benefit to economic relations between Latvia and Azerbaijan.
"We already have examples of successful investment in the areas such as wholesale trade, transportation and consulting. Latvia is interested in increasing mutually beneficial investments," added the Latvian foreign minister.
Further, he said that the trade turnover between Latvia and Azerbaijan increased for more than 20 percent year-on-year amounting to 19.84 million euros in 2018.
"Latvian exports to Azerbaijan include food products, construction and building materials, wood products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals. Latvian entrepreneurs are interested in exploring new export markets. We are confident that more Latvian products ranging from electronic equipment to cosmetics will be delivered to Azerbaijan in the coming years," he added.
Bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Latvia after the restoration of independence of both countries are successfully developing in political, economic, cultural and other spheres.
Diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Latvia were established in 1994. Trade relations are one of the main directions of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Latvia.
Although the indicators on mutual trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Latvia are not high so far, progress achieved in this area can be noted in recent years.
The Joint Declaration on the Establishment of a Strategic Partnership, signed between the two countries in 2017, has contributed to the ongoing political dialogue, the program of economic cooperation, as well as the interaction in the field of education and culture.
Azerbaijan invested $ 164 million to Latvia, while the Latvia invested $ 84 million in the economy of Azerbaijan so far. About 40 Latvian companies operate in construction, service, industry, communications, transport, trade, banking and insurance sectors of Azerbaijan.
Latvia appreciates Azerbaijan's role in a number of energy projects, including TAP and TANAP.
On July 23, 2018, Azerbaijan's Trade House was opened in Riga, Latvia, aimed at promotion of the Made in Azerbaijan brand in the Latvian market, expansion of the export of Azerbaijani products, organization of sales in Latvia and work coordination in this field. Latvia is currently working to open a similar business venture in Baku.
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