By Akbar Mammadov
Azerbaijan is open to cooperation with France for the country's transformation to digital economy, Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov said during the French-Azerbaijani business meeting in a webinar format on May 12.
"Currently, the world economy is in the process of digitalization, which promises new opportunities. Therefore, the digitalization of the economy is a long-term goal. In this context, the establishment of a branch of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Center of the World Economic Forum in Azerbaijan is of particular importance," Jabbarov said addressing the webinar
Jabbarov stressed that Azerbaijan attaches great importance to international cooperation, including relations with France.
"Our countries are determined to take the partnership to a higher level, even in the face of a global pandemic. In this regard, the efforts of MEDEF and the Azerbaijan-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry to develop business relations between the parties are commendable", he added.
The Minister of Economy gave comprehensive information to the participants of the webinar about reforms implemented in Azerbaijan under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, measures to liberalize the economy, favorable business and investment environment, a new draft law on investment activities with the participation of experts from the International Finance Corporation, a foreign direct investment promotion strategy, among others.
Speaking about the Azerbaijani-French economic cooperation, Jabbarov noted that 65 French companies operate in various sectors of the Azerbaijani economy, including industry, energy, trade, services, agriculture and others.
"Our countries also successfully cooperate in the field of investment. So far, Azerbaijan has invested $2.1 billion in the French economy, whereas $2.2 billion was invested from the French side to Azerbaijan. French companies also participate as contractors in non-oil projects in Azerbaijan funded by public investment and worth $ 2.1 billion," Jabbarov said.
Mikayil Jabbarov also said that the Azerbaijani government reacted promptly to the pandemic and the global crisis amid dropping oil prices, and took systematic and operational measures to maintain macroeconomic stability.
"As a result of timely preventive measures taken under the leadership and direct control of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, the number of coronavirus cases in our country have been limited. In addition to protecting human health, a relevant Action Plan has been approved to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the national economy", the minister stressed.
The minister noted that according to the Action Plan, the country is also taking measures to provide financial support to entrepreneurs and employees working in the affected areas, to protect jobs and to strengthen the social protection of the population.
Furthermore, Jabbarov said that along with ensuring economic stability in the Action Plan, the application of a new model of economic growth is one of the main goals.
Thus, Azerbaijan's GDP grew by 3 percent in January-February 2020, by 1.1 percent in the first quarter of the year, by about 7 percent the non-oil sector in the first two months of the year, and by more than 3 percent in the first quarter. Azerbaijan pursues a targeted policy to diversify and develop the non-oil economy, as well as to increase the economy's resilience to global shocks, in order to build a stronger non-oil sector and reduce dependence on oil.
In turn, noting that his country attaches great importance to the development of ties with Azerbaijan, MEDEF CEO Philippe Gauthier reminded that the official visit of the delegation of his organization to Azerbaijan in July 2019, where the delegation was received by President Ilham Aliyev and First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva, Azerbaijani-French business forum, as well as the signed documents.
Philippe Gauthier stressed that Azerbaijan has favorable business and investment environment, is an attractive tourist destination, a producer of a number of competitive products, and he shared his views on combating the pandemic and expanding cooperation in various sectors of the economy.
Other participants of the meeting expressed their views on economic diversification and strengthening resilience in the current context of the pandemic and the sharp drop in oil prices, non-oil projects that can ensure sustainable economic development, and expanding cooperation with French companies.
Thus, during the webinar, the participants held discussions on the prospects of partnership development in the banking and financial sector, agriculture, ICT, innovation, transport and transit, and other areas.
The ambassadors of Azerbaijan and France also attended the meeting.
The webinar was organized by the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), the French Entrepreneurs Organization (MEDEF) and the Azerbaijan-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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