Minister: Azerbaijan is open to cooperation with France in building digital economy (PHOTO) (UPDATE)
Details added (first version posted on 18:21)
BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 12
Azerbaijan’s goal is to build the digital economy and in this field, the country is open to cooperation with France, Azerbaijani Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov said.
Jabbarov made the remark during a business meeting in the format of a webinar organized by the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), the French Entrepreneurs Organization (MEDEF) and the Azerbaijan-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Trend reports.
“The organized event is a convenient platform for exchanging views on the prospects for cooperation between business representatives of the two countries,” the minister added. “Azerbaijan attaches great importance to international cooperation, including relations with France.”
“Our countries are determined to bring the partnership to a higher level, even during the global pandemic,” Jabbarov said. “From this point of view, the efforts of MEDEF and the Azerbaijan-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry to develop business relations between the parties are commendable.”
The minister informed the participants of the webinar about the reforms being carried out in Azerbaijan under the leadership of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, measures to liberalize the economy, create a favorable business and investment environment, a new bill being prepared in connection with investment activity with the participation of experts of the International Finance Corporation, a foreign direct investment promotion strategy, etc.
Talking about economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and France, the minister stressed that 65 French companies operate in various spheres of the Azerbaijani economy, including industry, energy, trade, services sector, agriculture and others.
“Our countries also successfully cooperate in the field of investments,” the minister said. “So far, Azerbaijan has invested $2.1 billion in the French economy while the French side invested $2.2 billion in Azerbaijan. French companies are participating in Azerbaijan as contractors in non-oil projects that are implemented through the state investments, the cost of which is estimated at $2.1 billion.”
Stressing the negative impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the minister emphasized that in terms of the global crisis and a sharp drop in oil prices, the world economy, in particular the economy of oil-producing countries faced new challenges.
Jabbarov said that the Azerbaijani government has promptly responded to the pandemic and the global crisis, and has taken systematic and operative measures to maintain macroeconomic stability.
The minister stressed that as a result of timely multilateral preventive measures taken under the leadership and direct control of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the cases of infection with coronavirus in the country were limited.
“To protect people's health and to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the national economy, an appropriate Action Plan has been approved,” Jabbarov said. “According to the plan, the measures are being taken to render financial support to entrepreneurs and hired employees involved in the spheres affected by the pandemic, to preserve jobs and strengthen social protection of the population.”
The minister said that one of the main goals in the Action Plan, along with ensuring economic stability, is the application of a new model of economic growth.
Azerbaijan’s GDP grew by 3 percent from January through February 2020, by 1.1 percent in the first quarter of the year, by about 7 percent in the non-oil sector in the first two months of the year and by more than 3 percent in the first quarter of the year. To form a stronger non-oil sector and reduce dependence on oil, Azerbaijan is pursuing a targeted policy to increase the economy's resilience to global impacts.
Currently, the global economy is in the process of digitalization, which promises new opportunities. Therefore, the digitalization of the economy has been set as a long-term goal.
Jabbarov emphasized that the goal of Azerbaijan is to build a digital economy and Azerbaijan is open for cooperation with France in this issue.
In this context, the creation of a branch of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum in Azerbaijan is of particular importance.
MEDEF Chief Executive Officer Philippe Gautier said that France attaches great importance to the development of ties with Azerbaijan and reminded the official visit of the delegation of his organization to Azerbaijan, the fact that the delegation was received by President Ilham Aliyev and First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva, Azerbaijani-French business forum, as well as the signed documents.
Gautier emphasized that Azerbaijan has a favorable business and investment environment, the country is extremely attractive from the point of view of tourism, as well as a manufacturer of a number of competitive products. He also shared his views on combating the pandemic and expanding cooperation in various spheres of the economy.
During the meeting, other participants also expressed their views on the diversification and strengthening of economic stability in the current conditions of a sharp decline in oil prices and the spread of the pandemic, as well as regarding non-oil projects that may ensure economic stability and the issues of expanding cooperation with French companies.
During the webinar, discussions on the prospects of developing partnership in the banking and financial sectors, agriculture, ICT, introduction of innovations, transport and transit and other spheres were held. The ambassadors of Azerbaijan and France also took part in the meeting.