By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and Switzerland enjoy a significant growth in trade and the two countries have good potential to expand the scope of economic ties.
The next meeting of the Azerbaijan-Switzerland joint commission on trade and economic cooperation will be held on June 28 in Bern.
Khanim Ibrahimova, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Switzerland, discussed with Erwin Bollinger, Delegate of the Swiss Federal Council for Trade Agreements, preparation for the meeting and the development of cooperation in various fields, the expansion of the legal framework and increase of trade.
Ibrahimova noted that one of the priorities of the development of Azerbaijan-Switzerland bilateral relations is economic cooperation.
İn turn, Bollinger said that Switzerland is interested in further development of relations with Azerbaijan and stressed that the joint intergovernmental commission has increased its efforts in this direction.
The previous, 7th meeting of the commission was held on March 10, 2016, in Baku. The Azerbaijani side is co-chaired by Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev.
It is noteworthy that within the framework of the joint coming commission meeting, memorandums of cooperation will be signed between the Agency for the Development of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses of Azerbaijan and the Swiss Association for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Swiss Thurgau canton.
In addition, Switzerland-CIS Joint Chamber of Commerce business forum will be held on June 27 in Zurich. Moreover, a working visit of Western Switzerland’s business circles to Azerbaijan is expected in October this year.
Currently, about 70 Swiss companies operate in service sector, trade, construction, industry, transport, banking and insurance in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan closely cooperates with Switzerland in the financial sphere, particularly, with the SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) and SDC (Cooperation and Development Agency). Thus, 38 projects with SECO and 16 projects with SDC are being implemented. Azerbaijan is a member of the WB and IMF Election Group, led by Switzerland.
Switzerland is one of the largest investors in the non-oil sectors of Azerbaijan's economy. In the period of 1992-2018, Switzerland invested about $851.9 million in Azerbaijan’s economy.
As mentioned in the Swiss Cooperation Strategy South Caucasus 2017–2020, Swiss assistance to Azerbaijan aims to create a conducive and risk-conscious business environment that will lead to the improvement and diversification of the country’s income base.
Switzerland supports large-scale energy and transport projects implemented in the region by Azerbaijan. The Swiss company AXPO is involved in the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which envisages delivering Azerbaijani gas to Europe.
Azerbaijan state oil company SOCAR successfully operates in Switzerland. Since 2012, SOCAR has been operating ESSO Switzerland's 172 petrol stations under its brand.
Last year, trade turnover between the countries increased 2.7 times compared to 2017 ($240 million) and reached almost $650 million. The Swiss exports to Azerbaijan accounted for $513 million in 2018.
It should be noted that over the first four months of this year, non-oil exports to Switzerland made up $45 million. At the same time, Azerbaijan will send an export mission to Switzerland in July this year to promote the export of local products.
During the Azerbaijani export mission’s visit to Switzerland last year, preliminary agreements on hazelnut export were reached with Switzerland's GN company, Varistor, Delica and other influential companies. During the mission, Switzerland agreed to import 220 tons of hazelnuts worth $ 125,000.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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