Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 20 / Trend E.Ostapenko /
Spheres of construction, design and trade, along with the traditional oil and gas sector, offers many opportunities for joint business of British and Azerbaijani companies, UK Minister of State for Europe, MP David Lidington considers.
"There are lots of opportunities for British businesses in other sectors, in particular in design and construction as Azerbaijan modernises its infrastructure and redevelops Baku. There are also opportunities in the retail sector", Lidington told Trend in an interview in the light of his visit to Baku.
"And I look forward to seeing the iconic London taxi on the streets of Baku soon", he added.
David Lidington will pay first official visit to Azerbaijan from Wednesday to Friday.
The Minister will use his visit to further strong bilateral relations and to bring British and Azerbaijani businesspeople together to find new opportunities to support prosperity in both countries.
He will be accompanied by a delegation of British businesses. Lidington is expected to meet with heads of leading Azerbaijani enterprises in Baku.
"British businesses are already the largest investors in Azerbaijan, so there is excellent existing cooperation for us to build on", said Lidington, Member of British Parliament since 1992.
The Government of Azerbaijan has done a good job to make doing business easier in the oil and gas sector by improving transparency, the minister said, noting, that there are more steps that can be taken to make doing business easier in other sectors.
"I think that all of the EU would like Azerbaijan to be a reliable trading partner, a country that promotes peace in the region, and to share in the values of the EU", he said.
During the visit Lidington will give a speech at the Azerbaijan University of Languages on Azerbaijan and its role in Europe.
"I would suggest that it depends on Azerbaijan's vision - we are clear that the level of integration with the EU is for individual states to choose", he said.
"A process is already in place for Azerbaijan to gain increased access to EU markets and for Azerbaijani people to move more freely to and from Europe - through its negotiations on an Association Agreement", Lidington said.
In July the first round of talks on the EU Association Agreement with the three South Caucasus countries has passed. The agreement is based on joint commitment to develop common values and cover a wide range of areas including political dialogue, justice, freedom and security, as well as issues of trade and cooperation.
"If Azerbaijan can show that it meets the criteria - through opening markets, other economic and democratic reforms, and improving regional relations, then it should be able to benefit from a closer partnership with the EU", Lidington said.