Ilham Aliyev: We will have large influx of additional foreign currency this year
BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 17
"Our external public debt is already at a very low level – at about 17 percent, and it will decrease even more this year. But we have financial capacity to further reduce the external debt in a short time. As I noted, we earned $6.4 billion of additional funds last year alone. This year, the oil price is at around $65. The price of oil in our budget is set at $55. We have envisaged the price of oil in a very conservative manner, i.e. at a low level. Despite this, our budget has reached a record level. Therefore, I am sure that we will have a large influx of additional foreign currency this year. So the debt taken at a relatively high interest rate can be replaced with those with a low interest rate. Also, negotiations may be held with creditors that we will repay the arrears ahead of schedule. I believe that the lower the external public debt, the better. In addition, we borrow foreign loans with great caution today," President Ilham Aliyev said.
The head of state noted that loans can be taken only for the implementation of technological projects.
"In previous years, loans were taken for some kind of construction – road or other. There is no reason for that because this work is not dollar-intensive. Therefore, I am instructing the government again to act with great caution in relation to loans," President Ilham Aliyev said.
"In fact, we do not need foreign loans. We are lenders ourselves now. A report of the Agency for International Development recognizes Azerbaijan as a donor country. As for additional funds earned by the State Oil Fund, this is a very positive fact, of course. Most of the money has been earned from management. And yet, the strategy of the State Oil Fund should consist in investing money in less risky instruments, because our main goal is to save these funds. Of course, as the amount grows, so do the funds earned. I am sure that the Oil Fund’s revenues from management will grow every year. We will continue to increase our foreign exchange reserves. Even in the most difficult years – 2015, 2016 and 2017 – we managed to preserve and increase our foreign exchange reserves."
The head of state noted that Azerbaijan's foreign trade relations are expanding.
"A 14-percent increase in non-oil exports is directly related to this activity. We have bilateral intergovernmental commissions with many countries. In several countries, we have set up trading houses of Azerbaijan. Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev leads many bilateral commissions, including those with neighboring countries – Russia and Iran, as well as our main trading partner – China. Therefore, what should be done in this direction this year? Please report on that. I have instructed the government: the main goal of intergovernmental commissions for us is to explore new opportunities for the activities of local companies in foreign countries in order to export Azerbaijani products to these countries, enable their participation in tenders and, at the same time, allow us the opportunity to implement contracts with many countries in this direction," President Ilham Aliyev said.