French minister urges increased trade turnover with Azerbaijan
By Ofeliya Afandiyeva
French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that Azerbaijan and France must increase the trade turnover as the current volume of exports and imports do not reflect the full potential of the two countries.
"I consider that the potential of trade between our two countries is not fully realized and we need to increase our exports and imports. In 2019, bilateral trade amounted to 750 million euros ($811,366,190.97), which 600 million of it ($649,366,615.83) accounted for oil imports,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told local media.
He stressed that it is necessary to improve trade balance between the countries by further developing cooperation in a number of sectors such as energy, including alternative energy sector, in which French companies offer real value for Azerbaijan.
"Azerbaijani Ministry of Energy has ambitious plans for new wind and solar power stations. I am disappointed that although French companies are world leaders in this sphere, they were not chosen for the pilot projects. However, I am confident that more will be done in the near future. Agriculture and environment are also other sectors in which our practice can help to strengthen our economic relations. As I just mentioned, energy is an important area for collaboration. The French company Total operates in the Azerbaijani market and will soon be able to participate in the export of gas from the country. We hope to sign new agreements, " the minister said.
Speaking about the cooperation between Azerbaijan and France last year, Le Drian noted that 2019 was a fruitful year for the bilateral economic relations.
"Our embassy organized the visit of an important business delegation of Medef (the major national business organization in France) led by its President Monsieur Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux. A delegation consisted of 43 French companies, both large and medium-sized. They were received met at the highest level of government and participated in a vast France-Azerbaijan Business Forum with Azpromo. Equally important is the fact that our Minister of Finance and Economy, Monsieur Bruno Le Maire, met with President Ilham Aliyev and with ministers in Baku last summer and discussed a number of issues relating to our economic partnership covering 5 priority sectors, i.e. environment, transport, energy, security and finance. Indeed a very active year which I hope will be followed by the implementation of many bilateral projects," he underlined.
“The conclusion of a trade agreement will be an important element in the development of trade and investment between our countries. I am sure of this and hope for a quick solution”, the minister noted.
As for the new partnership agreement, which is being negotiated between the European Union and Azerbaijan, Jean-Yves Le Drian pointed out that France and Azerbaijan will both benefit from the partnership agreement.
Azerbaijan is France’s main economic and trade partner in the South Caucasus.
“In 2018, 2.4 percent of France’s total trade turnover with the three countries of the South Caucasus accounted for Azerbaijan. In 2019, France accounted for 3 percent of Azerbaijani exports and 2.1 percent of imports,” the Executive Director of the Azerbaijani Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communication Vusal Gasimly told local media recently.
He offered expanding the export of the non-oil sector to France to include hazelnuts, fruits, vegetables, dates, wine and other agricultural products.
Executive Director also mentioned that being the third largest economy in Western Europe (after Germany and the UK) France, has a number of large corporations that could participate in the Azerbaijani economy and help bring new technologies to the country, create new jobs and increase competitiveness and export opportunities.
Azerbaijan-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 2016 and aims to develop mutually beneficial economic and friendly relations between the two countries. The Chamber's mission is to provide its members with unique networking opportunities.
The Chamber organizes official events on pressing issues on a monthly basis, at which assistance is offered to the member-companies in developing the business through their platform. Presently, the Chamber has over 60 local and international member companies.
Note that railway or tramway track fixtures and fittings and mixtures of odoriferous substances and mixtures have the biggest share in France’s exports to Azerbaijan.
France, in turn, imports from Azerbaijan petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, other nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled are the trade main products.
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