Baku, Azerbaijan, July 28
By Azad Hasanli – Trend:
The Czech Republic is undoubtedly interesting for Azerbaijan in terms of investment, such as in the petrochemical industry, energy and natural resources, Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jiri Havlicek said in an exclusive interview with Trend.
"In this area, only few concrete projects have been implemented, and Azerbaijani investors have so far been interested especially in the field of real estate and hotels," he added.
"The amount of Azerbaijani investments in the Czech economy is relatively small, reaching a rate of two percent [out of all investments made in this country]," Havlicek said. "The largest investments are directed to the real estate and hotels. I think, however, that right now it is a very good time for investment in the Czech Republic."
"Our economy has been steadily growing in recent years and creates many opportunities for foreign investors, whether in existing companies or start-ups," he said. "Investment incentives are dealt with by a specialized agency CzechInvest, and we attach great importance to it."
Havlicek said that Czech banks have lent more than 1.8 billion euros to Czech companies that have implemented major projects in Azerbaijan over the last ten years.
"These projects were funded by our banks directly," the minister said. "Therefore, we consider these financial contributions as investments in the Azerbaijani economy. This implies that the Czech Republic is one of the most important investors in the Azerbaijani economy and evidences the confidence of Czech entrepreneurs in cooperation with Azerbaijan."
As for cooperation with Azerbaijan, Havlicek also spoke about the areas of mutual interest having great potential for development.
"I would like to remind here the January visit of my predecessor, Jan Mládek [Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic until February 28, 2017] in Baku," Havlicek said. "During this visit, the 4th meeting of the Joint Czech-Azerbaijani Commission was held to address these issues in detail. I agree with what was said at the meeting."
"The most promising areas for cooperation between the Czech Republic and Azerbaijan are traditional and renewable energy, modernization of transport infrastructure, green technologies, agriculture and manufacturing, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, supplies of medical equipment, engineering and construction," he said. "I see another significant potential in the development of tourism."
The minister added that the aforementioned fields are also most interesting for setting up joint ventures that are of interest to the Czech Republic.
"We can recommend this way [establishment of joint ventures with Azerbaijani companies] to Czech companies, however, they have to decide and choose a partner by themselves," Havlicek added. "In this regard, I would like to invite our Azerbaijani business partners to not to be afraid to enter into business relations with Czech companies; they are reliable players which have a lot to offer."
According to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic amounted to $201 million in January-June of 2017, with $168.26 million of that amount accounting for the export of Azerbaijani products to that country.