BAKU, Azerbaijan, September 14. Fostering stronger cooperation with Central Asian countries has consistently been a cornerstone of Azerbaijan's foreign policy. President Ilham Aliyev's dedicated focus on forging partnerships with each of the Central Asian economies has played a pivotal role in fortifying vital connections with the South Caucasus.
In the present geopolitical environment, all states of Central Asia are actively pursuing enhanced cooperation with Azerbaijan across diverse directions. This includes Kazakhstan, which is working towards increasing its oil exports through Azerbaijani-built energy infrastructure. Turkmenistan is also seeking collaboration with Azerbaijan on gas exports as part of a project that is still in the draft, or Uzbekistan that is demonstrating a strong desire to jointly work on the development of the Middle Corridor, which currently serves as the crucial route for accessing the European market for all Central Asian economies.
Despite the fact that Tajikistan is a country that not only lacks common borders with Azerbaijan via the Caspian Sea, but is also geographically distant from Azerbaijan, the relations between the two states are much closer than they may appear.
Currently, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan are collaborating on numerous economic projects, encompassing the energy sector, the oil industry, and the aluminum industry. Key sectors for economic collaboration between Tajikistan and Azerbaijan comprise metallurgy, the agro-industrial complex, energy, light industry, transportation, telecommunications, and the financial sector.
As of April this year, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan had established a legal foundation for their bilateral cooperation through approximately 62 agreements covering various areas of collaboration. On April 5, 2023, an additional 14 agreements spanning various sectors were introduced. Among these, a crucial one is the action plan outlining economic cooperation between the two governments until 2025, which is expected to serve as the cornerstone for the development of effective mechanisms to strengthen their bilateral ties.
One of the most promising documents is the agreement pertaining to cooperation in the transportation sector. The Protocol for the exchange of advance information on goods and vehicles transported between Azerbaijan and Tajikistan will significantly boost trade relations and streamline logistics. Azerbaijan has established robust transport connections with all Central Asian countries and is continually striving to enhance them, which has led the country to evolve into a regional transportation hub. Tajikistan stands to gain immensely from this cooperation.
Other agreements include promotion of investments, start-ups and entrepreneurship, as well as cooperation in humanitarian and culture fields.
In the energy field, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan have initiated highly promising projects in recent times. After the 6th session of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation between Tajikistan and Azerbaijan in Baku on July 7, 2023, both parties reached an accord to execute distinct projects aimed at fortifying trade and economic collaboration between the two nations.
These initiatives encompass the creation of collaborative industrial ventures and the provision of Azeri Light crude oil from Azerbaijan to cater to the requirements of the oil refinery within the Dangara Special Economic Zone, fostering subsequent petroleum product production in Tajikistan.
Meanwhile, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Tajikistan over the first 7 months of 2023 reached over $2.3 million, which is 0.06 percent of the total Azerbaijani foreign trade turnover with the CIS countries. In 2022, the bilateral trade volume amounted to $5.8 million. While these numbers may not seem high, both parties have made notable strides in bolstering their cooperation in recent years.
Taking a cue from its neighbors, Tajikistan has the potential to leverage the distinct business opportunities currently available in Azerbaijan. The robust and enduring relationships with Central Asian nations are the outcome of President Ilham Aliyev's forward-thinking policies. As we look ahead, Azerbaijan has solidified its connections with this region, and, in collaboration with its partners, is actively advancing the region's development for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders.