Ambassador: Difficult situation in Spain may encourage development of economic relations with Azerbaijan

Business Materials 13 October 2011 12:31 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 13 / Trend , S.Agayeva /

Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Spain Altay Efendiyev believes the complex internal situation in Spain is may contribute to and encourage the development and intensification of bilateral trade and economic relations with Azerbaijan.

"Of course, the current situation [the debt crisis in Spain] is not conducive to the development of cooperation directly, as lack of financial resources and tools to promote and encourage the Spanish companies' expansion into new markets negatively affects their competitiveness. This is especially impacts small and medium-sized enterprises," Efendiyev said in an interview with Trend. "But as for the large enterprises, they are less vulnerable to the negative impact of the crisis because about half or more of their activity occurs in foreign markets."

He said these companies have considerable resources, are competitive and are often leaders in their fields. Efendiyev named the so-called "blue chips" of the Spanish economy (Santander, BBVA, Telefonica, Iberdrola, Gamesa, ACS, Acciona, Repsol, Tecnicas Reunidas, FCC, Indra, Inditex, etc.), which has been actively expanding their presence in other countries in areas such as ICT, banking, energy, transport infrastructure, construction and so on, as an example. They invest billions in developed countries such as the United States (Energy), UK (banking and alternative energy), Germany (construction business and infrastructure), Poland (banking), Turkey (banks, transport infrastructure) and Brazil (energy).

"I think that relying on these companies and promoting the economic interests of Spain in new markets, which is a foreign policy priority, will help to get out of this crisis at a certain extent," he noted.

Efendiyev said compared to previous years, a number of Spanish companies are either already participating or in anticipation of implementing projects in Azerbaijan in areas such as transport infrastructure, water supply, alternative energy, environmental protection, etc.

"One can already meet in Baku new and popular, world-famous Spanish brands such as Mango, Zara, Massimo Dutti, Paul & Bears, Parcelanoza, and soon there will be new ones. Many companies participate in tenders held by state organizations in areas such as urban planning and architecture transport, energy and petrochemicals. I believe this is just the beginning of the process and that it will be actively developed. Here one of the motives, of course, is the financial and economic crisis and the need to find new markets," he noted.
He believes while developing relations, the sides must proceed from mutual interests, but, above all, national interests should be given priority, taking into account the main trends and needs of socio-economic development. These areas require the attraction of advanced technology, managerial expertise, modern standards of environmental protection.

"This is where the Spanish companies' opportunities and interests completely consistent with our needs," he said.

Efendiyev named highlighted sectors such as the development of transport infrastructure, where Spain's achievements and experience is one of the best in the world. Spanish companies have also shown great interest in cooperating with Azerbaijan in the development of electricity generation based on alternative and renewable energy (Spain is the world leader in this area), urban planning and architecture, agriculture and food processing, oil refining and petrochemicals, ICT and tourism.

"As you can see, the list is not only vast but also very relevant for us. As to whether Spain intends to invest in Azerbaijan and to what extent, it will depend on how favorable the investment climate will be between our countries," he said.

He said business is very sensitive to the environment and directs itself to a place where it feels good. The environment involves not only the stability and potential of a market, but the level of political relations between countries, developed legal sphere and legal framework, etc.

Given this, Efendiyev sees as primary objectives in the bilateral relations activities to raise awareness of the parties on the potential and possibilities of multi-faceted cooperation; intensification of the dialogue at the intergovernmental level; formation of a supportive legal framework; institutional support for the development of relations, including the establishment of joint committees, business councils.

He also named the opening of the Spanish Embassy in Baku among these activities.
Currently, some preparatory work is being carried out, and I think activation is expected to strengthen in this area after the elections in November," he said. Opening a direct air link between the countries would be a great help, he believes.

Speaking of raising the level of trade and economic relations between the two countries, Efendiyev said it is also important to think about expanding the interests of Azerbaijan in the Spanish market.

"Spain is very interested in attracting investment, and proposals to this effect were sent to Azerbaijan', he said.

He invited Azerbaijani businessmen to cooperate with Spanish companies, and the embassy, he assured, is ready to render all possible assistance in this.