UK reviews opportunities to use Azerbaijan as Caucasus-Caspian hub
By Ayya Lmahamad
British Ambassador to Azerbaijan James Sharp and Alat Free Economic Zone (AFEZ) Chairman Valeh Alasgarov have discussed opportunities for UK companies to take advantage of Azerbaijan's position as a Caucasus-Caspian crossroad.
Ambassador Sharp has made the remarks on his official account on Twitter.
"Today we had a good meeting with Valeh Alasgaorov, chairman of the Alat free economic zone. We discussed the possibility of British companies using Azerbaijan's position as a crossroads of the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea," the ambassador tweeted.
Azerbaijan and the UK are cooperating in different spheres of the economy. There are already 30 years of successful cooperation between the two countries in the oil and gas sector, which entered a new stage of development in line with the challenges of the global energy sector.
Moreover, the UK is Azerbaijan's largest investor. The energy sector accounts for $28.8 billion out of $30.6 billion of the UK's investments in the Azerbaijani economy.
Earlier, British companies expressed their interest in rebuilding Azerbaijan's liberated territories. In this context, Azerbaijan’s Energy Ministry and BP signed an Implementation Agreement to build a 240MW solar power plant in liberated Zangilan and Jabrayil regions.
In 2021, the Azerbaijani and British governments signed a memorandum of understanding on clean energy transition. The document aims to strengthen energy cooperation between the two countries and explore opportunities for solving the climate change problem.
The trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $480.3 million in the first seven months of 2021, and to $454.4 million in 2020.
In 2017, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the creation of a special economic zone near the Alat settlement. On July 2021, he laid the foundation for the country’s first free economic zone. AFEZ will use this strategic geographic location to provide a regional investment hub and boost competitiveness in the Europe-Caucasus-Asia and North-South transport corridors.
The realization of the Alat FEZ project will not only bring economic dividends to Azerbaijan but also strengthen the country’s position in the region. This project's implementation will also increase the strategic importance of Azerbaijan, which plays an important role in such transit transport corridors as East-West and North-South.
Benefits and exemption from a number of taxes in FEZ will increase interest in the country and the region as a whole and consequently attract foreign investors and investments. The Alat FEZ project will become the main driver of economic development in the non-oil sector.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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