By Aynur Jafarova
The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) has signed agreements with three Azerbaijani financial institutions - Unibank, FINCA Azerbaijan and TBC Credit.
The signing ceremony took place following a business forum held in Baku on June 21 within the 15th Annual Meeting of the BSTDB Board of Governors.
The first loan agreement worth $5 million, signed for five years with Unibank, is another contribution made by BSTDB to the development of Azerbaijan's economy, according to BSTDB Chairman Andrei Kondakov.
Chairman of the Board of Unibank Faig Huseynov said that the loan agreement is the fourth one and another agreement is expected to be signed next year. BSTDB and Unibank have been cooperating for eight years, he said.
Moreover, an agreement worth $10 million was signed with FINCA Azerbaijan credit institution. FINCA Azerbaijan is the leader of the microfinance market in Azerbaijan which is of particular importance for the development of rural regions, Kondakov said.
FINCA Azerbaijan CEO Manish Sane said that the allocated loan will be used to expand lending in the country's regions.
The other agreement, signed by BSTDB and TBC Credit, is worth $4 million.
Kondakov added that BSTDB is closely cooperating with Georgian TBC Bank and welcomed the fact that this cooperation has been expanded in Azerbaijan as well. The allocated loan will be used for lending to small and medium-sized businesses.
Speaking at the opening of the business forum held within the BSTDB annual meeting, Azerbaijani Finance Minister Samir Sharifov said that Azerbaijan has become a major player in the region.
The minister said the country attaches great importance to the forum and considers it a good platform for the presentation of the economic successes of Azerbaijan, the investment climate created in the country and opportunities for economic cooperation.
"Azerbaijan's economic growth over the past 10 years has no matches in the world. The country has successfully endured the consequences of the global economic crisis. More than 80 percent of the national economy comes from the private sector. Along with the energy industry, impressive results are observed in the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan's economy," Sharifov said.
This policy, the minister said, is aimed at the renovation of infrastructure and investment in Azerbaijan as well as improving the social and economic situation of the country. Economic achievements of the country are reflected in the rankings of the leading international agencies. Azerbaijan leads the way among the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries in terms of economic growth.
Sharifov went on to say that Azerbaijan faces new challenges.
"First of all, we are talking about diversification of the national economy. President Ilham Aliyev has set out a goal of doubling the GDP in the next 10 years. Moreover, the head of state has adopted the strategy 'Azerbaijan 2020: A Vision into the Future' aimed at developing the economy, improving transport and logistics infrastructure, development of information technologies and other purposes. I believe the forum is a good opportunity for discussion and exchange of experience in these areas," the minister said.
The BSTDB annual meeting which is underway in the Azerbaijani capital will conclude on June 23.
BSTDB is an international financial institution established by Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. The bank supports economic development and regional cooperation by providing trade and project financing, guarantees and equity for development projects supporting both public and private enterprises in its member countries.
The bank's governor from Azerbaijan is Minister of Economic Development Shahin Mustafayev and his deputy is Finance Minister Samir Sharifov.
At the end of 2012, BSTDB's active portfolio in Azerbaijan consisted of 18 Board approved operations for the total amount of 87.7 million euros. Azerbaijan ranks fifth in terms of Board approved transactions with the figure accounting for 6.9 percent of the total portfolio, and signed operations with 7.5 percent of the total portfolio. The country also ranks fifth on outstanding financing, with 9.8 percent of the total portfolio.
Based on the 2011-2014 Business Plan, the bank would expect to approve new operations in Azerbaijan for about 18-26 million euros per year or approximately 88 million euros over the four-year period.
Currently, the bank's activities are mainly focused on the financial sector. BSTDB has opened credit lines to 10 Azerbaijani banks - International Bank of Azerbaijan, Access Bank, AGBank, Unibank, Texnika Bank, Demir Bank, Kapital Bank, Azer-Turk Bank, Bank Standard and Bank Respublika.
At present, Greece, Russia and Turkey remain the bank's largest shareholders with stakes of 16.5 percent each. Romania owns 14 percent, while Bulgaria and Ukraine - 13.5 percent each, Azerbaijan 5 percent, Albania 2 percent, Armenia and Moldova - one percent each, and Georgia 0.5 percent.