By Aynur Karimova
Azerbaijan and Turkey, the two neighboring countries and strategic partners, have a great potential to increase their bilateral trade turnover to $15 billion.
This was stated by Turkey's Economy Minister Mustafa Elitas on April 28.
"The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Turkey increased eight times and stood at $5.1 billion in 2002-2014, but it slightly dropped due to the global financial crisis in 2015 as compared to the previous years," he told Trend.
According to the State Customs Committee, trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $1.476 billion in 2015.
Turkey's export to Azerbaijan stood at $1.9 billion in 2015, while the country's import from Azerbaijan totaled $1.6 billion.
Turkey primarily exports iron and steel products, various finished products, electronics, furniture, plastic products to Azerbaijan.
"Natural gas accounts for 85 percent of Turkey's import from Azerbaijan," he said, adding that aside from the natural gas, Turkey imports non-ferrous metals, chemical industry products, plastic products from Azerbaijan.
Elitas believes that Azerbaijan's important role in the region, the high-level relations between Baku and Ankara make it possible to even more develop the economic and trade relations between our countries.
He said one of the most important missions of Turkish companies is to contribute to the development of Azerbaijan's economy.
Turkey's investments in Azerbaijan reached $7.5 billion by late 2014, while the volume of investments made by Azerbaijan in Turkey's economy stood at $4.2 billion.
The Turkish minister believes that these figures mirrors the level of relations between the two countries.
"But Baku and Ankara should even more develop the bilateral relations," he added.
Azerbaijan-Turkey enjoyed strong relations for centuries due to a common culture and history and the mutual intelligibility of the Turkish and Azerbaijani languages.
Turkey was the first country in the world to recognize Azerbaijan's independence in 1991 and has been a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan in its efforts to preserve its territorial integrity and realize the economic potential that arises from its rich natural resources in the Caspian Sea.
Azerbaijan and Turkey have good and developing economic ties, especially in terms of huge energy projects envisaging the transportation of Azerbaijan's hydrocarbon resources to the European and world markets through the Turkish territory.
Today, Azerbaijan and Turkey are the beneficiaries of all the major projects in the region, in particular the Southern Gas Corridor, which comprises TANAP and TAP projects, as well as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.
The partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan has become a driving force forming policy and economy of the region. The two countries complete each other. The political weight of Ankara is supported by the economic projects implemented at the initiative of Azerbaijan. This unity allows Baku and Ankara to respond all modern challenges.
Azerbaijan's investments in the Turkish economy will reach $17 billion to $20 billion by 2020. Currently, this figure exceeds $6 billion.
Elitas believes that the crisis in relations between Russia and Turkey increases the relevance of the Trans-Caspian international transport corridor for cargo transportation through Azerbaijan to markets in Central Asia.
He said the Trans-Caspian transport corridor should become a priority when transporting cargoes.
Turkey held meetings with the representatives of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on effective use of the Trans-Caspian transport corridor.
Customs procedures were simplified for effective use of the corridor, and it was agreed to reduce customs duties, transit quotas for Turkish trucks were increased.
The Trans-Caspian route connects China with Europe via the territory of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia. This is a multimodal corridor which uses railway, maritime and road transport for transportation of goods.
The Trans-Caspian route enjoys an opportunity to become attractive and profitable for consignors from European countries. This route will transport approximately 300,000-400,000 containers by 2020.
This route is attracting the attention of the transport and logistics communities of China, Turkey, Ukraine and European countries, which are looking for new routes of supply of their products to foreign markets.
Being the cheapest and most profitable corridor for freight traffic, the Trans-Caspian route is expected not to have an alternative in the coming decade.
The growing interest in transport infrastructures via Azerbaijan helps the country to become a major transport hub in the region.
Earlier, Azerbaijan Railways reported that Germany and Lithuania have expressed interest in joining the Trans-Caspian route.
Once fully operated, the transport route will have a positive impact on Azerbaijan’s economy.
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