By Leman Mammadova
Estonia and Azerbaijan have friendly relations and both countries are interested in expanding cooperation to reach higher level of close partnership.
Estonia hopes that relations with Azerbaijan in energy, processing and manufacture of food products will develop into partnerships, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told Trend.
He stressed that, in general, Estonia expressed interest in cooperation with Azerbaijan in the field of transport and logistics, since the geographical location of the country makes it one of the regional hubs of the rapidly developing North-South Transit Corridor.
Reinsalu added that in addition to the ICT sector, agriculture and health are also the fields of mutual interest. “There were contacts in the energy, manufacturing of food products, and we hope that these contacts will grow into partnerships.”
He also noted that the potential of bilateral cooperation in the economic sphere is promising.
“However, we are still in the discovery phase, and the turnover of about four million euros per year indicates that there is much room for growth,” the minister said.
Reinsalu went on to add that there is good cooperation in the ICT sector, Estonia welcomes the successful introduction of mobile identification in Azerbaijan, and there is great potential in this area using additional digital services.
The minister underlined that the governments of the two countries periodically convene the Intergovernmental Commission to discuss bilateral cooperation in order to facilitate trade and investment, adding that the next session should be held this year in Tallinn.
Diplomatic relations between Estonia and Azerbaijan were established in 1992. Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Azerbaijan is an ally of Estonia in the South Caucasus.
About 15 agreements have been signed between the countries, and 22 Estonian companies operate in Azerbaijan. Approximately 2,500 Azerbaijanis live in Estonia.
The economic relations between Azerbaijan and Estonia have gradually increased in recent years. The intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Estonia was established in 2011.
There is a great potential for the development of ties. Azerbaijan is interested in cooperation in the field of food industry, energy supply, textile, furniture and wood industry, tourism, while Estonian side is interested in sharing their experience particularly in ICT and e-government.
Estonia considers Azerbaijan as a possible corridor to markets of Iran, Middle East and India. Estonian railway companies and sea ports have good relations with Azerbaijan Railways and Baku International Sea Trade Port. Estonia is currently working on opening a transit corridor between Scandinavia, Middle East and Central Asia.
The trade turnover with Estonia amounted to $5 million in 2018, according to State Statistical Committee. Estonian exports reached $3.7 million, while Azerbaijani exports made up $1.3 million. The main goods of export from Estonia to Azerbaijan are machinery (68 percent), timber and wood production, paper and cardboard. At the same time, Estonia mainly imports foodstuffs, such as nut, juice and water, from Azerbaijan.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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