By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
The eighth meeting of the Azerbaijani-Swiss intergovernmental commission has been held in Bern.
Speaking at the meeting, Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Economy Minister, stated that the trade turnover between the two countries in January-May 2019 reached $881 million, which is 8.8 times more than within the first five months last year.
The minister noted that in 2018, 52 percent of Switzerland’s total trade turnover in the South Caucasus accounted for Azerbaijan.
He noted that Switzerland holds one of the leading places in the export of non-oil products of Azerbaijan.
Touching on the economic relations between the two countries, Mustafayev said that there is a great potential for cooperation in such areas as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, transit transport and tourism.
He reminded that in the first quarter of 2019, Azerbaijan’s GDP grew by 3 percent, non-oil GDP - by 1.7 percent and non-oil industry - by 16.1 percent. The minister stated that taking into account estimates, in 2019 the GDP of the country will increase by 3.2 percent, and non-oil GDP- by 3.4 percent.
Mustafayev also stressed that last year, $15.3 billion were invested in Azerbaijan’s economy, and $8.2 billion of them accounted for foreign investments. In general, since Azerbaijan gained independence, $263 billion were invested in the economy of the country, and more than 50 percent of them account for foreign investments.
In turn, Delegate of the Swiss Federal Council for Trade Agreements Erwin Bollinger noted that the relations between Azerbaijan and Switzerland are at the highest level.
Bollinger praised the reforms carried out in Azerbaijan and noted the successful activities of Swiss businessmen in Azerbaijan.
As part of the meeting, the Agency for Development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) of Azerbaijan and the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation issues.
The document was signed by Chairman of the Board of the SMEs Development Agency Orkhan Mammadov and President of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises Josef Rosenflu.
The memorandum involves the mutual exchange of information in the areas of trade, investment, economic cooperation and small and medium-sized business, as well as the exchange of experience and joint activities for the development of SMEs.
It is noteworthy that 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.
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.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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