WB announces preliminary date for second economic forum

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.17 / Trend I.Khalilova /

The second forum on the long-term economic development of Azerbaijan is scheduled for March 5-6, the World Bank's (WB) Baku office told Trend on Tuesday.

Within the next few weeks a list of the forum's participants will be given. These include world renowned experts such as former high-rank officials from Chile, Australia, Korea, Turkey whose activities contributed to big successes in the development of their countries, the Office said.

Key questions to be discussed will cover the improvement of the business climate in Azerbaijan, setting common rules for business as well as the formation of viable institutions needed for the market economy.

The forum was originality scheduled for October 17-18, 2011. The main reason for postponing such an important event both for the bank and the Azerbaijani government was a contentious schedule of possible forum's participants.

The event may contribute to the development of Azerbaijan's oil sector, diversification of economy, creating new jobs, development of capital and achieving general development during next 10-20 years.

As a result of the first forum on long-term economic development of Azerbaijan held on Oct.21, 2009, an agreement on the preparation of an activity plan to oversee diversification of the country's economy for further development as well as holding a new forum to assess progress and results was reached.

The forum made it possible to start constructive dialogue on diversifying Azerbaijan's economy. The country was offered preparation based on Ireland's model and Slovakia's experience for its own model of economic growth and balancing dependence on domestic and foreign markets.

Amidst the change of an economic climate and oil price volatility as a result of world financial and economic crisis, Azerbaijan should significantly increase non-oil export during the next 10 years.

World experience shows that it can be reached only by a significant increase in direct foreign investment. At the forum among the most important elements to attract direct foreign investment and introduce new products and innovations by local entrepreneurs, preservation of macroeconomic stability, creation of dynamic business environment and raising population's education abilities was stressed.

In order to transform Azerbaijan into a country with a high income level by 2020 there was a need to change approaches to the country's development in regard to the world financial crisis and gradual stabilisation of Azerbaijan's oil revenues.

The forum was organised by the Azerbaijani government and the WB's Baku Office and was attended by the bank's director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. It is expected that high-ranking officials of the WB will attend the second forum.

Meetings were held at the WB's headquarters in Washington in May, 2011. Head of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) Elman Rustamov said att the meeting with the WB's president that holding the forum will make it possible to bring cooperation to a new level. Azerbaijan is interested in the WB's participation in the second economic forum and in this regard relevant debates were held in Washington.

Azerbaijan has been member of the WB since 1992 and under its cooperation, the Bank has allocated $2.9 billion to fund 43 projects which makes Azerbaijan third in terms of portfolio volume after Turkey and Kazakhstan.

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