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IFC to help improve agribusiness competitiveness in Azerbaijan

8 May 2019 17:10 (UTC+04:00)
IFC to help improve agribusiness competitiveness in Azerbaijan

By Leman Mammadova

International Finance Corporation (IFC) will help Azerbaijani Government to develop investment policy and promotion framework, implement foreign direct investment (FDI) policy as well as diversify the economy and stimulate job creation.

Azerbaijani Government and the IFC signed three cooperation agreements and three memorandums of understanding on the implementation of Azerbaijan Investment Climate and Agribusiness Competitiveness Project on May 8.

The projects aims to help ease doing business and attract investment to Azerbaijan’s non-oil economy.

In particular, the three cooperation agreements were signed with the Ministries of Economy and Agriculture and the Food Safety Agency.

At the same time, three memorandums of understanding were signed with the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population, the Commission on Business Climate and International Rankings, and the Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communication.

Azerbaijan Investment Climate and Agribusiness Competitiveness project is financed by the Government of Switzerland through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and Austrian Ministry of Finance. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2020.

“Azerbaijan is already seeing the positive results of recent social-economic reforms and there are more to come. We are committed to continuing our efforts in diversifying the economy and developing non-oil sectors, including through our continued cooperation with IFC and benefiting from its global experience,” Yagub Eyyubov, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, said at the event.

The agreements aim to help further streamline licensing and inspections regulations, support the government in developing an investment policy and promotion framework and implementing a national FDI strategy.

The project will also help address challenges in the agribusiness sector—an important source of jobs and key to boosting non-oil growth—by enhancing access to quality seeds, streamlining regulations along agribusiness value chains, and modernizing the national food safety management system, to help reduce the administrative burden on the private sector and increase food exports.

Simone Haeberli, Chargee d’Affaires of Embassy of Switzerland, Deputy Regional Director of Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, noted that a healthy business environment and a conducive investment climate are key to private sector development and economic growth.

“At this stage in the ongoing reform process, we have witnessed and continue to witness that private sector development is a key priority for Azerbaijan and enjoys full support of the country’s leadership. Switzerland stands ready to further support the government of Azerbaijan in its efforts to develop a new economic model.”

“Country needs to tap into new sources of growth to ensure a sustainable and resilient economy, and we are glad to see the government taking steps in this direction,” said Jan Van Bilsen, IFC Senior Regional Manager for the Caucasus and the Russian Federation. “Our advisory program aims to help local businesses grow, attract foreign investments to Azerbaijan and make regulations more business-friendly for local private companies, helping them expand and create more jobs.”

IFC, one of the World Bank Group Companies, includes 182 members. IFC promotes sustainable economic growth in developing countries through financing private sector investment, directing capital to international financial markets, and consulting services to companies and governments.

IFC helps companies and financial institutions to create jobs in emerging markets, improve tax revenues, improve corporate governance and environmental protection, and contribute to local communities.

Azerbaijan became a member of IFC in 1995. Since then, IFC has invested around $473 million in the country, of which $73 million was mobilized from other lenders. The funds have financed 56 long-term projects across a range of sectors, including financial services, infrastructure, and manufacturing. In addition, IFC has supported around $100 million in trade through its trade finance program, and provided $250 million for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. IFC has also implemented a range of advisory projects aimed at encouraging private sector growth.

Recently, IFC made proposals for creating a mechanism for supporting the dialogue between the private and public sectors of Azerbaijan. One of them deals with the improvement of the overall investment climate, and the second with providing support in drafting and introducing amendments to the legislation, evaluating their impact on the business environment and the economy as a whole.

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Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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