By Ofeliya Afandiyeva
Russian Minister of Economic Development has said that a new automobile bridge over the Samur River on the Azerbaijani-Russian border will be commissioned in December 2019 and will become an important part of the North-South international transport corridor.
Maxim Oreshkin made the remarks on the eve of the 10th Russia-Azerbaijan Interregional Forum held in Moscow on November 22-23.
“Today we need to focus on breakdown of bottlenecks on both sides of the border. A joint Russian-Azerbaijani working group on the development of cross-border infrastructure has been created with this aim. The automobile bridge over the Samur River in the territory of Yarag-Kazmalyar crossing point will help solve this problem. Work on the contract started in December 2017. Now the sides have reached the finish line. The bridge is expected to be commissioned in mid-December 2019,” Oreshkin said.
The bridge will become an important part of the North-South international transport corridor, the minister stressed.
“According to expert estimates, overland freight transit through the territory of Azerbaijan can approach 7 million tons in the medium term, and exceed 13 million tons in the longer term. Moreover, the main part of the transit will be conducted by Russian cargo going to India and Iran and from these countries. In the future, perhaps, the project will involve South and Southeast Asia regions and the Gulf states,” Oreshkin added.
The bridge construction project is being implemented as part of an agreement signed between Russia and Azerbaijan in August 2013.
The new bridge will replace the existing one, which was built in 1957. Each state will operate independently on issues related to the bridge. The length of the bridge will be 325.3 meters, width 17.3 meters, the cost of construction in the Azerbaijani territory is estimated at $21.5 million.
Futhermore, Oreshkin underlined the growth in business relations between two countries.
“There is considerable potential for expanding mutual supplies. Governments are conducting comprehensive work to improve the business climate. According to estimates of 2018, the unrealized potential of Azerbaijan’s non-primary non-energy exports to Russia reaches $281 million, including $216 million in agricultural exports and $65 million in industrial exports,” he informed.
The minister said that about 750 joint Russian-Azerbaijani companies are currently operating in the Azerbaijani market, which is about 10 percent of the total number of enterprises funded by foreign capital in Azerbaijan.
“According to the report by Central Bank of Russia, the volume of accumulated direct foreign investments of Russia in Azerbaijan increased by over two-fold in 2018. Among the ongoing projects, I would like to mention the SOCAR Polymer's polypropylene plant, the construction of the GAZ plant for the production of commercial trucks, the Hyatt Farm joint venture,” Russian Minister stressed.
Oreshkin added that the huge Russian market is open to all partner countries. “To see more Azerbaijani goods on the shelves of Russian stores, efforts must be made, including by Azerbaijani entrepreneurs,” he emphasized.
Moreover Oreshkin added that Azerbaijan and Russia will sign a cooperation program in the agricultural sector in December.
"Agriculture is one of the priorities of trade cooperation. We are currently working on a comprehensive cooperation program, which involves collaboration between Russia and Azerbaijan in all directions of the agricultural sector (seed, fertilizer, agricultural machinery, logistics and trade networks). It is about coordinating and helping the networks to find the right suppliers. We will help the trade networks to find the suppliers that offer the highest quality goods at the lowest prices,” minister stressed.
It should be noted that in the first nine months of 2019, Azerbaijan exported non-oil products worth $465.6 million to Russia (an increase of 15.8 percent compared to the same period last year). In general, 33 percent of the export of non-oil products of Azerbaijan for the reporting period accounted for Russia, which ranks first among countries where Azerbaijan carries out non-oil exports.
Earlier, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev said that by the end of 2019, trade turnover with Russia could reach about $3 billion.
According to the results of 2018, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Russia amounted to $2,550,906.07, which is 19.1 percent more than in 2017. The share of trade operations with Russia in 2018 accounted for 8.25 percent of the total foreign trade turnover of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani delegation was led by Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov at the forum. The agenda of the Forum included the extended meetings of the Azerbaijan-Russia and Russia-Azerbaijan working councils, round table discussions on industrial, tourism, agricultural and humanitarian spheres, as well as a plenary meeting.
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