By Sara Israfilbayova
A bill on establishment of a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Azerbaijan will be submitted to the Milli Majlis [Parliament] until the end of the year, said Taleh Ziyadov, the Director General of the Baku International Sea Trade Port CJSC.
President Aliyev signed a decree on March 17, 2016, on measures to create a free trade zone type special economic area covering the territory of the Baku International Sea Trade Port in the Alat township of Baku’s Garadagh District.
Ziyadov reminded that last year an agreement was signed with the UAE-based Dubai Port World (DP World), which completed all the works and submitted the bill to the government of the country.
"An important factor in the successful operation of the FTZ is the legal regime. The draft law was prepared and President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree establishing a task force headed by Vice-Speaker Valeh Alasgarov to coordinate it and conduct state expertise,” he said.
The 11-man task force will work to speed up the establishment of free economic zones. Under the presidential order, the task force shall submit – within three months – a final draft law on the creation of free economic zones to the head of state.
Ziyadov further added that a meeting with Turkish Ambassador Ercan Ozoral, who visited the port in Alat and got acquainted with the conditions, proved more prospects.
“A 100-percent growth in the number of trucks was recorded in 2016, and about 23,000 trucks were shipped from Turkey to Central Asia and back. In 4 months of this year, we sent more than 10,000 trucks in both directions. This is a very positive trend, and we hope that it will continue," Ziyadov stressed.
The Alat FTZ will make Baku Port more attractive for Turkey, said Ambassador Orzoral following the meeting.
The ambassador said Baku Port is a door which unites Turkey with Asia. “Free Trade Port project will give an important contribution to Azerbaijan`s economy. The importance of Baku Port will significantly increase following the opening of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project,” he added.
The free trade zone in Alat is expected to bring up to $1 billion just in the first few years. Special tax and customs policy, which will be pursued in the territory of the free trade zone will also stipulate further development and simplification of a number of procedures.
Moreover, seeking to become the largest logistics zone in the Caspian region, the FTZ will offer comprehensive logistics services to its residents and international clients, serving as a major regional intermodal distribution hub. Taking into account that many manufacturers now prefer to put the final touches onto their products at the distribution centres, such as FTZ’s nearby consumer markets, the provision of value added logistics services at the FTZ becomes an even more compelling prospect. This would not only generate significant non-oil trade for Baku Port at Alat and Azerbaijan in whole, but would establish it as a regional logistics leader with all three main services of import/export, transit shipment and logistics.
The FTZ can bring $57 billion to the country’s economy by 2040. In this regard, 60,000 additional work places can be opened in the country, said Khudayar Hasanli, the head of the Strategic Planning and Development Department of the Baku International Sea Trade Port CJSC.
Hasanli, talking to Milli.Az, stated that the new port of Baku was chosen for the FTZ for its favorable geographical location
“Since the new port is being built at the major railway juncture connecting the North-South and the East-West railway lines in Azerbaijan, FTZ will also have rail access. Serving as a multimodal transit logistics hub, the new port and FTZ will become a major consolidation and distribution centre in Central Eurasia that provides a wide range of value added services.”, Hasanli said.
He noted that, the essence of the concept is to provide access to markets within a radius of 1000 km from Alat, which means having access to a market where 130 million people live. Hasanli stressed that for entrepreneurs will be created favorable conditions.
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