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Zangazur corridor's opening to expand co-op with EU

22 February 2022 17:30 (UTC+04:00)
Zangazur corridor's opening to expand co-op with EU

By Ayya Lmahamad

Azerbaijani Small and Medium Business Development Agency Board Chairman Orkhan Mammadov has said that the opening of the Zangazur corridor will create additional opportunities for expanding cooperation with EU countries and regional economic integration.

He made the remarks during the conference on support to the Azerbaijani government in creating a more favorable environment for SMBs and increasing their competitiveness.

Mammadov emphasized that this is especially important in the post-coronavirus pandemic period when economic recovery and sustainable growth are expected.

Trade turnover

He noted that the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and European countries in 2020 amounted to $9.5 billion, or 40 percent of the country's total trade turnover.

"Azerbaijan imported products worth $6.8 billion from Europe. Besides, 1,700 European companies operate in Azerbaijan," he said.

The chairman stressed that after the liberation of territories, Azerbaijan created new opportunities for expanding cooperation. He added that the country's GDP in 2021 increased by 5.6 percent compared to 2020.

"Additional value during this period in the non-oil industry increased by 7.2 percent, and in the oil industry - by 1.8 percent," he said.

He also stressed that Azerbaijan's SMBs received ample opportunities for sustainable development.

"Our agency has a wide range of tools to support small and medium businesses," he said.

EU cooperation

Moreover, EU Delegation to Azerbaijan head Peter Mikhalko stated that the delegation will provide €2 billion of financial assistance to businesses in the country. He added that the funding tool will cover about 25,000 entrepreneurs.

"The Azerbaijani government has made a breakthrough in the development of SMBs. We have seen this breakthrough by cooperating with the Small and Medium Business Development Agency. We will continue rendering financial support to small and medium-sized businesses in Azerbaijan," he said.

Noting that the EU Delegation in Azerbaijan conducted an analysis of microcredit for businesses, Michalko stated that within this framework, they gave recommendations to Azerbaijan and plan to further integrate the European experience here.

The official added that the EU mission and the SMBs Development Agency are implementing projects on digitalization of entrepreneurship and transition to green technologies.

Entrepreneurship digitalization dev't

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) analyst Patrik Pruzinsky noted that the Azerbaijani regions have made strides in the development of entrepreneurship digitalization.

He stated that the OECD has assisted Azerbaijan in strengthening its digitalization through collaboration with the country in the field of small and medium business development.

"Earlier, digitalization in Azerbaijan developed slowly. To date, business entities of Azerbaijan have expanded their presence in the online environment," he said.

The analyst noted that OECD experts record an increase in the use of online services by businesses and that the main obstacle to the entrepreneurship digitalization development in Azerbaijan is the small practice of applying digital services.

"In this area, we see how the Azerbaijan Agency for Small and Medium Business Development creates specialized centers in the regions that contribute to the entrepreneurship development," he said.

The analyst also stated that it is also planned to further develop the digitalization of Azerbaijan's entrepreneurship until 2030, in accordance with the country's development strategy. He stated that the organization sees the need to create a specialized document for the development of entrepreneurship in accordance with the new realities in this regard.

“It’s necessary to create a new infrastructure, expand the transition to modern technologies. These works must be carried out not only in large cities, but also in villages, and remote areas of Azerbaijan. It’s also necessary to support the creation and development of the business ecosystem as a whole," he said.

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Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad

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