UK, Azerbaijan seek to broaden cooperation

3 June 2016 13:42 (UTC+04:00)

By Nigar Abbasova

So far the United Kingdom has invested $25 billion in Azerbaijan's economy, said the Azerbaijani minister.

Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijan’s economy minister and co-chair of the Azerbaijani-British Intergovernmental Commission, made the remark as he met with Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourn, the trade envoy of the UK Prime Minister on June 2.

The minister underlined the importance of further developing the UK-Azerbaijan ties saying that mutual visits are of great importance for the strengthening of the cooperation. Currently the countries cooperate in different spheres of economy including energy, trade, investments.

The minister emphasized that Azerbaijan is highly interested in the expansion of economic cooperation with the UK in non-oil sectors such as tourism, agriculture and investments. “British companies operating in the sphere of industry have great opportunities for investing in Azerbaijan’s petrochemical sphere,” he added.

Baroness Emma Nicholson, in her turn, mentioned that the two countries have a great potential for the development of relations in various directions of economy.

She mentioned that cooperation between the National Farmers’ Union of Great Britain and local organizations of such kind will give a stimulus for the expansion of the export of Azerbaijani agriculture products. The trade envoy did not rule out a possibility to realize the opportunities in agriculture and tourism and underlined the importance of mutual visits for the research of opportunities in the spheres of agriculture and tourism.

Azerbaijan is currently engaged in the diversification of its economy by means of developing the non-oil sector. The government places particular emphasis on the growth of non-oil sector and minimization of oil dependence as well as increasing the volume of foreign investment in this field.

The cooperation in energy sector is currently the primary factor of the bilateral economic ties between the UK and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan cooperates with the United Kingdom in the field of exploration and transportation of oil and natural gas from the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. BP as a leading oil company which has launched its operations in Azerbaijan in 1992 participates in the main production sharing agreements such as the “Contract of Century” (Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli) and the Shah Deniz project.

Azerbaijan's State Customs Committee reported that the trade turnover between the UK and Azerbaijan totaled $169.5 million in January-April 2016, some $166.9 million of which falls to a share of imports from the UK. The United Kingdom is considered to be the largest foreign direct investor in Azerbaijan followed by the U.S. and Japan.

The United Kingdom recognized the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 26 December 1991. The diplomatic relations between two countries were established on 11 March 1992. The British Embassy was opened in Baku in September 1993 and the Azerbaijani Embassy in London in January 1994.

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Nigar Abbasova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @nigyar_abbasova

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