By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and Belarus are interested in using the cooperation opportunities in various fields on mutually beneficial conditions.
Azerbaijan will be ready to help Belarus in case of its appeal regarding oil supplies, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Belarus Latif Gandilov told Belarusian media.
He noted that it is necessary to take into account the complexity of the transportation of oil from Azerbaijan to Belarus and look for the most optimal ways that will not lead to a strong increase in the cost of energy resources.
“There are no other issues except for transportation routes, which may greatly affect the cost of transported oil,” Gandilov said. He suggested that deliveries may be made possible through the ports of the Black Sea.
The ambassador also noted the great potential of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
"Belarus is located in the center of Europe. It means the European market will be open to us. In its turn, Azerbaijan, which is at the outer edge of the East, can open the Middle East market for Belarus," he said.
Industrial cooperation between the two states has been recently expanding, and third countries have been starting to join the partnership, which is exemplified by the joint production of MAZ equipment at the Ganja Automobile Plant in Azerbaijan and supply of the plant's products to the Turkish market.
"I think such manufacturing cooperation would facilitate division of labor and expand the choice of products we can jointly manufacture. It is a very correct approach to the matter. It will result in more successful development of our region by means of providing more job opportunities to people and, thus, will increase their well-being," Gandilov said.
Belarusian media have earlier reported that the country intends to begin importing oil alternative to Russian oil by the end of the year. Oil may be shipped via the ports of the Baltic Sea and Ukraine. Belarusian oil refineries can process 18 varieties of oil from Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria.
Diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Belarus were established in 1993, and cooperation in the economic sphere has been developing dynamically in the past decade.
Today, a legal and organizational framework has been set up that allows the implementation of joint projects. The Agreement on Investment Promotion and Mutual Protection between the Governments of Belarus and Azerbaijan came into force in 2011, which accelerated the bilateral economic cooperation.
Azerbaijan’s first ever Trade House was opened in Belarusian capital Minsk on May 26, 2017. The Trade House presents Azerbaijan's domestic products.
Two countries closely cooperate in the field of machine engineering. Azerbaijani-Belarusian enterprise for the assembly of tractors of the Minsk Tractor Plant (MTZ) in Turkey will be put into operation in July 2019.
So far, more than 10,000 Belarusian tractors and specialized equipment have been assembled at the Ganja Automobile Plant, which is the largest assembly plant of Belarusian tractors outside the Eurasian Economic Union.
Last year, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Belarus was about $204 million, which is approximately $56 million more than the figure of 2017. The volume of trade between Azerbaijan and Belarus reached $60 million in January-February this year. Imports from Belarus to Azerbaijan amounted to $55.9 million, while the volume of exports from Azerbaijan to Belarus was $3.3 million.
Products of the machine engineering industry, petrochemistry, woodworking, pharmaceuticals, military-technical cooperation made up the main Belarusian export items to Azerbaijan. In turn, Azerbaijan mainly exports to Belarus petrochemicals, vegetables, fruits and other non-oil products.
Meanwhile, Belarus is interested in the North-South project and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, and aims to create the Minsk-Baku railway route. Earlier, Belarusian Railways and Azerbaijan Railways signed an agreement on mutually beneficial cooperation for the interaction of the railways of the two countries to contribute to the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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