Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 7
By Azad Hasanli – Trend:
The Czech Republic invites Azerbaijani companies to invest in petrochemical, electrical and mechanical industries, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic Tomas Huner said in an exclusive interview with Trend.
“It is appropriate to add that the time is now very convenient for investing in the Czech Republic. Our economy has been steadily growing since 2015 and has been creating many opportunities for foreign investors, whether in existing companies or start-ups. The Czech government offers foreign investors assistance through the CzechInvest business and investment promotion agency,” said Huner.
“Due to its enormous mineral wealth, Azerbaijan enjoys a great interest from foreign investors, including Czech companies. They already invest in Azerbaijan and, in cooperation with the Czech Export Bank, are involved in major projects in the country, such as the construction and reconstruction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line. From 2005 to 2015, Czech banks provided export credits to Azerbaijan amounting to $2 billion. The Czech Republic thus became one of the largest foreign investors in the country (9th place in 2015). At present, 19 companies with the Czech capital operate in Azerbaijan,” noted the minister.
On the other hand, Azerbaijani investments in the Czech economy are relatively smaller and amount to a maximum of two per cent of all foreign investments, he continued.
“The largest investments of Azerbaijani entrepreneurs have so far been implemented in the field of real estate and hotels. This is related to tourism, which benefits from direct air links between Prague and Baku,” said Huner.
“The current state of our economic cooperation is based primarily on oil trade. However, there are broad possibilities of developing economic relations in other fields whose potential has not yet been fulfilled. The fields that are activated in the efforts of the Azerbaijani Government to diversify the economy and support the development of the non-oil sectors of the economy can be an opportunity for Czech companies,” said the minister.
“These include agriculture, the chemical and processing industry, engineering, services (especially the transport, logistics and tourism) and IT. The same applies to both ongoing and new projects for the modernization of the transport infrastructure, e.g. the reconstruction of the road and railway network together with the supply of means of transport. Czech companies can also succeed as suppliers in the field of pharmaceuticals, electrical engineering, consumer industry and environmental technologies,” added Huner.
“There is also a great potential for the future cooperation in the field of renewable energy sources. The technology of Czech companies can be used in the field of wind and water energy and in improving the efficiency of the energy industry,” said the minister.
The mutual cooperation at regional level also creates potential for Azerbaijani investment projects, said the Czech minister.
“Given the huge economic potential of Azerbaijan, Czech companies are interested in creating joint ventures in the future. Meanwhile, Czech companies as suppliers have been successfully involved in various projects in the country, totalling $16 billion. A recent example is the signing of a memorandum between Tatra Trucks and the Ganja Auto Plant, according to which the Tatra trucks will be produced in Azerbaijan from 2018 onwards,” added Huner.
According to Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee, trade turnover with the Czech Republic amounted to $664.5 million that is by twofold more than in 2016 ($316.3 million). Azerbaijani exports to the Czech Republic totalled $556.86 million in 2016 (an increase of 2.6 times).