By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and Iran hold rapidly developing ties in various spheres of cooperation. Both countries particularly aim to achieve noticeable progress in cooperation in the non-oil sphere.
The neighboring countries intend to develop ties in the insurance sector, and also plan to create a joint investment fund, Farhad Dejpasand, Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, told Iranian media.
Hailing the rapid development of relations between Iran and Azerbaijan, Dejpasand stressed that the economic potential of both countries creates opportunities for broader relations.
In his words, expansion of relations between the two countries in the insurance sector will help citizens and companies create their own business. He added that the states, in turn, will guarantee the integrity of their real estate and finances, which will increase the volume of mutual investments.
Dejpasand further pointed to the importance of cooperation in transport sector within the development of the international North-South international transport corridor. He noted that the construction of the Qazvin-Rasht-Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan) railway, which is the main component of the North-South transport corridor, is underway.
Dejpasand said the Qazvin-Rasht line section has already been commissioned, and work on the Rasht-Astara line is ongoing. He emhasized that construction of the Rasht-Astara line will be completed in the next two years, and the railway systems of Iran and Azerbaijan will be connected.
"This will create favorable conditions for the further development of the non-oil sector in both countries," he said.
The projects implemented by Azerbaijan and Iran designed to integrate regional transport networks will increase the competitiveness of International North-South Transport Corridor as well as deepen the relations in the regional format.
North-South transport route envisages connecting India with the Middle East and the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe. The project aims to increase the efficiency of transport communications in the organization of freight and passenger transportation, to assist in increasing the volume of international transportations.
Within the North-South corridor, Astara-Rasht-Qazvin railway project envisages the construction of a new railway line in Iran, which will connect Astara (Azerbaijan) to the Iranian cities of Astara, Rasht and Qazvin, as well as the reconstruction of the existing railway in Azerbaijan.
Dejpasand noted that thanks to the favorable business climate in the country, Iranian companies expand their activities in Azerbaijan in such fields as industries, construction, services, communications, trade, transport and agriculture.
"There is enormous potential in expanding cooperation in the fields of transport, energy, industry, healthcare, agriculture, ICT, tourism and other areas," he said.
Dejpasand also added that the trade between Azerbaijan and Iran grew 2.2 times in the first half of 2019.
Last year, the trade between the two countries amounted to about $440 million.
"At the same time, the number of Iranian enterprises operating in Azerbaijan has grown over the past six months. Today 1,371 Iranian companies operate in Azerbaijan," he noted.
As for the joint ventures, Dejpasand noted the successful operation of the Iranian-Azerbaijani joint automobile plant in Neftchala, whose products are sold both on the domestic and foreign markets.
In addition, he pointed out that construction of a pharmaceutical plant in the Pirallahi High-Tech Park is underway.