Details added (first version posted on May 31 at 14:31)
Baku, Azerbaijan, May 31
An Azerbaijan-Poland business forum has been held at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda attended the forum.
The presidents made speeches at the forum.
Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev:
- Dear Mr President, Dear guests, business forum participants!
Mr President, I welcome you once again. Within the framework of your official visit to Azerbaijan today, a broad exchange of views has been held, various topics have been discussed, and we can already say that the visit is very successful. I am sure that this visit will give a powerful impetus to the further development of Polish-Azerbaijani relations.
Our meetings are held on a regular basis. I am very pleased to remember my visit to Poland. We also meet and talk at international events, and these meetings are of great benefit to our bilateral relations. Today, representatives of business circles of Poland and Azerbaijan are meeting within the framework of this business forum today. And this is natural because our high-level political ties allow the business community to stay in touch as well.
I am aware that several agreements will be signed within the framework of the forum. This suggests that the forum will have tangible results. In the future, of course, there will be more such agreements because mutual interest is quite big. Business circles simply need to get to know each other better. It is necessary to explore business opportunities. I believe that the visit of President Duda is very important in this respect because the lack of information may sometimes prevent business people from establishing close ties with each other.
We are very interested in increasing our trade. A fairly broad exchange of views was conducted in this respect today. Specific steps are being taken to expand export-import operations. Last year, a trade house of Azerbaijan was opened in Poland. I consider this an important step, and products made in Azerbaijan will be represented there by means of this trading house. We have had an exchange of views on investments. I believe that there are also opportunities here, we simply need to focus on the right directions in order to achieve efficiency in the field of investment.
I think that cooperation can be very useful for business people. In general, the business environment in Azerbaijan is very positive, and there is a lot of progress in this direction in recent years. This is also acknowledged by the World Bank. The World Bank’s Doing Business report 2019 ranks Azerbaijan 25th in terms of the business environment and is among top 10 most reformist countries. Therefore, a lot of work is being done in terms of investment. Investments in the oil and gas and the non-oil sectors are worth tens of billions of dollars. Foreign investment is protected at the proper level, which is important for any country. As a result of the improving business environment, business people feel confident and countries receive more benefit.
The economic reforms carried out in Azerbaijan in recent years allow us the opportunity to expand our financial capability. The external public debt is at a low level and we are trying to further reduce it. Currently, it accounts for 19 percent of the gross domestic product. We actively cooperate with international financial institutions, and they positively assess the reforms being implemented in Azerbaijan.
The infrastructure projects implemented in our country further improve the business conditions, because where there are roads and communications, business people certainly feel comfortable. In recent years, great attention in Azerbaijan has been paid to the implementation of infrastructure projects. I believe that the results achieved in this area suggest that these projects are paying off and bringing comfort to people. They also facilitate the work of business people. All of the work related to road construction, gas supply and electricity creates excellent conditions, including those for businesses.
In recent years, the development of the transport sector in Azerbaijan remains a priority issue, and we have had an exchange of views on this. The modern transport infrastructure established in Azerbaijan is significant both within the country and in regional terms. The steps taken in recent years towards creating the East-West and North-South transport corridors are already bearing fruit. We have created a modern transport and logistical infrastructure. Of course, this is of great importance, it brings great benefits to the business community because business development would be out of the question without the transport infrastructure.
Azerbaijan traditionally pays great attention to the development of the energy sector. However, our main goal is to develop the non-energy sector. In short, the diversification of the economy is a priority for us, and in recent years tangible steps have been taken in this direction. I believe that as a result of the joint activities of the business circles of Poland and Azerbaijan, attention will be paid to this area as well.
We have already achieved results in the field of agriculture. An agreement has been signed. Poland's experience in this area is very important for us. Agriculture is of great importance for the development of our country, including the creation of jobs. I believe that we have good opportunities for extensive cooperation in this area.
Tourism has developed rapidly in Azerbaijan in recent years. Polish citizens can come to our country on the basis of a simplified visa regime. I think that it is necessary to make mutual presentations. In other words, our people should get to know each other better so that tourism develops at a higher rate and mutual visits are made.
Thus, high-level political connections make it possible to achieve good results in business as well. Currently, trade between us does not fully reflect our potential. In order to increase our trade, it is necessary to be more active – first of all, the business community. We, in turn, always support them. The participation of President Duda and myself in today's business forum is further evidence of this support.
I wish Polish and Azerbaijani business people further successes. I hope that cooperation between our countries leads to good results. Thank you!"