By Ayya Lmahamad
Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey have signed five memorandums and agreements on cooperation as part of the trilateral business forum held in Baku.
The memorandums were signed on December 14 by the heads of the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) and the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce and the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as representatives of the Small and Medium Business Development Agency of Azerbaijan, the Coordination Center of the IV Industrial Revolution and the Turkish Metallurgical Industry, Azerbaijan's AzSeker and Bayburt Grup.
Free trade agreements between the three countries are already creating comfortable conditions for the business sector development, Georgia's Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Natela Turnava said.
She stated that today Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey are jointly going through economic recovery as they overcome the COVID-19 pandemic consequences.
"I would like to note that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the period of trade between our countries has not stopped, which demonstrated how strong our countries are together," she said.
Turnava added that Azerbaijan and Turkey have been the largest partners of Georgia for many years, in terms of trade and investments attraction.
"Georgia creates an attractive investment climate and supports mechanisms for its partners, such as financing programs, a more simplified tax system," she said.
Cooperation in Karabakh's restoration
The acting head of Azerbaijan's Export and Investment Promotion Foundation, Yusif Abdullayev, said that the foundation will broadly discuss the possibilities of companies from Turkey and Georgia to restore Karabakh.
“We hope that this platform will contribute to the maximum use of the economic potential of our countries. In addition, during the B2B meeting, which will be held today, we will widely discuss the possibilities and potential of companies from Turkey and Georgia in the restoration of Karabakh," he said.
Abdullayev added that the foundation's activities are aimed at developing the export of non-oil products and increasing investments in this sector. Abdullayev noted that exports in this sector have grown by 45 percent since the beginning of 2021.
Speaking at the event, Azerbaijan's Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov said that the liberation of Azerbaijani territories had created new opportunities for economic cooperation with Turkey and Georgia. He noted that despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic "today we see at the forum not only the heads of the economy and trade ministries of Georgia and Turkey but also businessmen from these countries".
"In 2020, as you know, Azerbaijan liberated its territories from occupation. This created new opportunities for economic cooperation between our countries. This format will contribute to the development of bilateral and multilateral cooperation," he said.
Jabbarov stated that Azerbaijan had received 921 requests regarding participation in the reconstruction of liberated lands. He stressed that the liberation of Azerbaijani lands opened up new realities and opportunities not only for business but also for regional development as a whole.
"We are implementing large-scale projects in Karabakh based on smart technologies. Our friends help us implement these projects. We have 921 requests for restoration work. Among them are many Turkish companies, as well as Georgian ones. And these requests continue to come," he said.
Jabbarov underlined that Azerbaijan expects the opening of the Zangazur corridor.
"This will contribute to the connection of the main part of Azerbaijan with Nakhchivan, as well as create alternative routes in the direction of Turkey, Iran, Russia and some other countries. Other promising routes are also being created," he said.
Head of Turkey's Organization for Foreign Economic Relations Nayil Olpak said that the corridor will open new alternatives of logistics and trade.
Noting that the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Turkey amounted to $2.5 billion, he stressed the need to strengthen cooperation in the agriculture, infrastructure and mining fields.
"On the other hand, as much as the process of restoration of the liberated territories is important for Azerbaijan, it is so important for all of us. We think we can support it with our projects. Along with investment projects, there is also the issue of financing. Turkey has extensive experience in this field, so we believe that its application will be fruitful in both Azerbaijan and Georgia," he said.
Investments, non-oil exports
Jabbarov added that foreign investments in Azerbaijan's economy reached $57 million in the first 11 months of 2021. He said that Azerbaijan's investments in the economies of other countries are also growing.
"Investments in the non-oil sector make up about 25 percent of the total investment. Azerbaijan's GDP growth in 11 months amounted to 5.3 percent, and the growth of the non-oil sector of the economy exceeded 6 percent," he said.
The minister stressed that the government's goal is to turn Azerbaijan into a transport, investment and IT hub of the region.
Noting that Azerbaijan's investments in Turkey exceeded $19 billion, Jabbarov recalled that a number of agreements on investments in Azerbaijan were signed between Baku and Ankara in 2021.
The minister added that Azerbaijani-Georgian strategic cooperation had expanded recently, despite the coronavirus pandemic. He added that Azerbaijan's investments in Georgia amounted to $3.3 billion.
"We are interested in more investments in the economies of Georgia, Turkey and our other partners. Besides, Azerbaijani companies in Georgia are large taxpayers, which also contributes to the growth of the economy of this country,” he said.
Jabbarov added that the procedure for cargo transportation between the countries had also been simplified.
"The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipelines and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway also testify to the success of our cooperation. In addition, we have great potential in the transport sector, including maritime transport," he said.
Additionally, Yusif Abdullayev noted that Azerbaijan's non-oil exports increased by 45 percent as of December 10.
He stressed that the results of nine months of 2021 give ground to talk about approaching the indicators of 2019. Abdullayev added that the purpose of the business forum is to increase non-oil exports and attract direct foreign investment into Azerbaijan.
Turkish Trade Minister Mehmet Mus has said that the trade turnover between Turkey and Azerbaijan increased by 6.5 percent since early 2021 and reached $4.5 billion. He also noted that the trade turnover between Turkey and Georgia increased by 20 percent and amounted to $1.9 billion.
"Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia are the intersections of the world logistics route. It is necessary to strengthen trilateral cooperation and to fully use the potential of our countries," he said.
The minister also emphasized that Turkey is ready to take all necessary steps to bring trade relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia to the highest level.
At the same time, Mikayil Jabbarov stated that Azerbaijan's trade mission in Istanbul will start to work fully soon. He noted that the activity of the Turkish businessmen in Azerbaijan today will give a bigger impetus to the economic relations between the two countries.
"We plan to bring the bilateral trade turnover up to $15 billion in 2023," he said.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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