By Aynur Jafarova
Prospects of inter-parliamentary relations between Azerbaijan and Switzerland will be discussed in Baku during an official visit of President of the Swiss Council of States Filippo Lombardi, who arrived in the Azerbaijani capital on June 30, Trend news agency reported.
During the visit, Lombardi will hold talks with officials of the Azerbaijani parliament and government.
Talking to journalists at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport of Baku, Lombardi said the visit is aimed to explore ways of developing the relations between the Swiss and Azerbaijani legislative bodies.
Lombardi said the two countries enjoyed political and economic cooperation and were also collaborating as part of international organizations.
Lombardi said he was visiting Azerbaijan at the right time, referring to the decision concerning the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.
During his stay in Azerbaijan Lombardi will hold several bilateral meetings with the country's officials.
Azerbaijani-Swiss economic relations are successfully developing and expanding. Currenty, there is legal framework for expansion of cooperation which opens up real opportunities for further development of trade.
The opportunities of increasing the trade turnower between the two countries, deepening cooperation in the industry, agriculture, finance, banking, investment, and tourism sectors and in renewable energy are being discussed within the joint commission for trade and economic cooperation between the government of Azerbaijan and the Federal Council, the executive body which constitutes Switzerland's federal government.
Switzerland is one of the largest investors in the non-oil sector of the fast-growing Azerbaijani economy. Swiss companies open their representations in Azerbaijan and successfully operate in the country.
Since 1999 the two countries have been successfully cooperating in cement production, which is being carried out under one of the investment projects. Swiss company Holcim Ltd owns 66 percent of shares at Garadagh Cement plant. Cooperation with a number of Swiss pharmaceutical companies continues. Also, high quality medical equipment manufactured in Switzerland is imported to Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan exports precious metals, including gold, to Switzerland. Part of the gold produced in the Gadabay gold ore field is being refined in Geneva.
Furthermore, Azerbaijan uses Swiss generalized system of preferences which promotes the expansion of export of Azerbaijani goods to the Swiss markets.
Switzerland has implemented several projects within the process of Azerbaijan's joining the World Trade Organization. These projects targeted increase of qualification of specialists of various government agencies of Azerbaijan in the intellectual property field and other issues related to the WTO.
Switzerland is also interested in the development of cooperation with Azerbaijan in the energy sector. In 2007, Azerbaijan and Switzerland signed a memorandum on energy security and cooperation. Swiss initiatives which would contribute to European energy security are under discussion as well.
In 2008, Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR opened its office in Geneva. Azerbaijan is considered as a reliable oil exporter in Switzerland. A significant part of the oil demand in this country is met by the resource-rich South Caucasus republic.
Switzerland has experience in the use of renewable energy sources, therefore, Azerbaijan is considering the application of Swiss technologies in this sector.
Moreover, Azerbaijan has studied the technologies used in Switzerland for effective utilization of household waste and the possibilities of introducing these technologies at home.