The exclusive interview of Trend Correspondent to Astana with Heydar Babayev, Azerbaijan Economic Development Minister
- How could you evaluate the existing trade and economic relations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan?
- Hydrocarbons are Azerbaijan key export raw materials, and possessing such resources, our countries should search other possibilities to increase the commodity turnover. According to our and Kazakhstan data, in 2006, the growth of the turnover between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan has exceeded 65%. But even these figures do not correspond with the potential that our countries have. Holding such business-forums like this one is envisaged by intergovernmental agreements we have, and now our parties will work purposefully to establish necessary contacts between business circles of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The cross points of our mutual interests will be: Capital Astana, financial centre Almaty, and Kazakhstan Regions bordering with Azerbaijan via the Caspian Sea- Mangistau and Atyrau Regions, where the Sea is a subject of our common interests. Interoffice relations will become another direction of the development of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
- What do you expect from the visit to Astana?
- My expectations are new real concrete steps on cooperation irrespectively of the form of ownership of companies. We really expect that the existing contacts will be reflected on the volume of the commodity turnover.
We, state figures, should assist cooperation. We must do all possible to up level our trade and economic relations to the political ones.
- Do you think that Azerbaijani investing to Kazakhstan projects is possible or not?
- The Azerbaijani party is interested first of all in possible investments to infrastructure projects in the Kazakhstan Regions that I mentioned above, and not only in the oil sector but also in the non-oil one. And I think that the business-forum will give its results, and our cooperation will be really commenced.
- What political and economic reforms Azerbaijan is carrying out to bring the country to the EU standards?
- If to consider the EU standards being the etalon, then by all our routine work, reforms, decisions made by the Government, Parliament, and the President of the Country all these are aimed at creating favourable conditions and approaching to EU. We have posed a task to join WTO. But this issue does not depend only on us. This is a negotiation process. We are preparing our legislation, and we hope that 2007 will be the decisive one in the issue on Azerbaijan joining WTO.
- How could you estimate the investment climate in Azerbaijan?
- President Heydar Aliyev repeatedly declared that we were interested in seeing foreign investors in Azerbaijan, and not only in the oil sector of its economy, but also in other ones. We are interested in both foreign and local investments. It has been for the first time in this year when the volume of local investments is more than foreign ones. That could not fail to make us glad, since local investments are more reliable and not subjected to frequent changes.