By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and China intend to maintain the high level of relations, in particular in the fields of economy and trade, in the years ahead.
Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Guo Min, the newly appointed Ambassador of China, have discussed the current level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and China in political, economic and other fields.
Mammadyarov hailed the ongoing support provided by China, particularly as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and within the international organizations, to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan.
He stressed the successful development of bilateral relations, noting that the recent mutual exchange of visits has given important impetus to further deepening of the relations.
Guo Min, in turn, underlined that the latest high level mutual contacts between the two states, including the last working visit of President Ilham Aliyev to China and his meeting with Chairman Xi Jinping, official visit of Wang Yi, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Azerbaijan, contributed to further expansion of bilateral relations.
The ambassador assured that she will make all efforts to further develop relations between the two countries.
She also stressed the necessity to expand economic and trade ties in line with consistently developing political dialogue between Azerbaijan and China based on the mutual confidence.
China is the third largest trading partner of Azerbaijan, holding the third position in Azerbaijani exports and the fourth in imports. The trade turnover between China and Azerbaijan reached a record level of $1.31 billion in 2018.
Currently, over 20 Chinese enterprises, engaged in energy, construction, information and communications, aviation, transport logistics, retail trade, restaurant business etc, operate in Azerbaijan. Chinese enterprises invested $800 million in Azerbaijani economy, while counter investments amounted to about $8 million.
At present, Azerbaijan’s trading and wine houses operate in Shanghai, Urumqi and Liuzhou cities to ensure the export of local products to China under the Made in Azerbaijan brand. In addition, the country is planning to open its trading house in the city of Xi'an.
The country is going to implement new projects together with the Chinese companies in view of the recently signed contracts worth $821 million covering many fields. The documents were signed the sidelines of the second Belt and Road International Forum in April this year.
The diverse relations between China and Azerbaijan, which have intensified in recent years, are expected to enter a new phase within the Belt and Road Initiative.
Azerbaijan is one of the first countries that supported the Belt and Road project and is one of the active participants in its implementation. Azerbaijan became a signatory to the Belt and Road Energy Partnership Declaration in October 2018.
China announced the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, aimed at creating infrastructure and establishing links among the Eurasian countries back. This Chinese strategy envisages two key areas of development: the economic belt of the Silk Road and the maritime Silk Road. It is related to the creation of trade corridor for direct deliveries of goods from East to West on preferential terms.
Successful transport projects implemented by Azerbaijan, such as Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, South-North, Alat International Sea Trade Port, have considerably contributed to the Belt and Road Initiative.