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Azerbaijan, U.S. discuss cooperation possibilities

4 December 2013 16:36 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan, U.S. discuss cooperation possibilities

By Nigar Orujova

Azerbaijan is ready to invest in the creation of new clusters, Azerbaijani Communication and Information Technology Minister said on December 3.

The main issue is creating innovative and export-oriented products, Ali Abbasov said at the Azerbaijan-U.S. ICT Business Forum in Baku.

Held within the 19th Azerbaijan International Telecommunications and Information Technologies Exhibition Bakutel 2013, the forum was part of the ICT Trade Mission to Azerbaijan on December 2-5.

Co-organized by the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC), the Azerbaijan ICT Ministry, and Azerbaijani Embassy to the United States, the forum brought together leading American tech-service and technology providers specialized in space technologies, business intelligence, cyber security, and other tech-related industries.

The oil revenues in Azerbaijan's GDP will be reduced from the current 47 percent to 20-25 percent by 2020 through the development of the non-oil sector.

Abbasov said it is important to apply an innovative approach to building a large-scale economy for such a small-scale market as Azerbaijan's.

The economy that depends on natural resources needs to redirect is capital to the development of other industries, i.e., technology-intensive products and services.

The ICT ministry was instructed to prepare the government's policy in this area and create a favorable condition for the development of the ICT sector.

Abbasov named three main areas that can contribute to creating a favorable environment: the development of human resources, the creation of favorable environment for development, and the capital.

The first area presupposes the development of human resources through development of science, creation of specialized universities like the University of Information Technologies, and sending students to study abroad.

The second area is the creation of a favorable environment for development. This includes the taxation policy, customs and fiscal policy, protection of investments, on each of which the government is doing everything necessary and possible in order to create a favorable environment for entrepreneurs.

The third important area is the capital. In this regard, Azerbaijan has great benefits compared to other countries without natural resources, and the income from the oil industry is being directed to the development of the non-oil economy.

Abbasov also underlined areas that can appeal to foreign investors, and hold the possibility of foreign companies' participation in the local and regional projects initiated by Azerbaijan.

Speaking at the event, U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar underscored Azerbaijan's successful economic policy and expressed confidence that it would also contribute to the development of the ICT sector in the country.

Highlighting the importance of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the field of ICT, he said despite being a small country, Azerbaijan has a lot of potentials for development.

The first plenary meeting of the forum was dedicated to Azerbaijan's first national satellite Azerspace-1 and prospects of Azerbaijan-U.S. partnership in the field of airspace.

Addressing the forum, head of Azerbaijani space agency "Azercosmos" Rashad Nabiyev said Azerbaijan has used the services provided by the U.S. space industry in launching its first satellite and, despite the difficulties in the production and financing process, intends do the same for launching its second satellite.

Azercosmos intends to complete the launch of the second satellite and Earth-imaging satellites, which have not been even named yet, by 2017, he said.

"In January or mid-February of the next year we'll start training for launch of imaging satellites, and American companies have already expressed their desire to participate in the tender," Nabiyev said.

He expressed confidence that in the next 15 years, Azerbaijan's space industry will make a worthy contribution to the economic development of the country.

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