BAKU, Azerbaijan, Feb.19
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
Italy has much to offer to Azerbaijan across all sectors, Augusto Massari, Italian ambassador to Azerbaijan told Trend.
“Azerbaijan can certainly reap the benefits of diversification and a greater openness in terms of trade and industrial development. Italy, in turn, has much to offer across all sectors, thanks to its industrial and engineering prowess. This is why, starting with the visit from our Head of State in Baku, we launched a simple but ambitious concept: “Beyond oil & gas”. We are aware that extractive industries will remain at the heart of our relationship, thanks to our imports but also to the Italian companies working in Azerbaijan in this field. However, Azerbaijan is not only about oil, and Italy certainly isn’t!” said the envoy.
He pointed out that agriculture is a good example.
“Only in 2019 we had many important highlights in this field, starting with the first-ever visit of our Minister of Agriculture, last July, and with the launch of an important EU Twinning project led by our Ministry in the field of subsidy reform. Many companies in this sector will take part in the Business Forum that will be held in Rome this Friday. Much can be done in the areas of renewable energies, water and soil remediation, and green technologies – these are fields we really want to emphasize in 2020, when Italy will host the “pre-COP26” meeting as well as the “Youth COP” summit. We see very important opportunities also in infrastructure and connectivity, where Azerbaijan displays great ambitions,” noted the ambassador.
Massari thinks that if one looks beyond the oil and gas sector, there remains a vast potential for further investment and openness toward foreign players.
“We closely follow the reforms pursued by the President and the Azerbaijani government in terms of improving the business climate, and look forward to further measures in fields such as rule of law and the functioning of the courts, which may ideally be dedicated to international commercial and economic issues. Good logistics naturally favor investments, too, and I really appreciate the efforts this government is making in this regard. Italian companies are already active in this field. Since you mention ports, we have an excellent Italian SME, DBA Group, which for several years has supported Port of Baku in building the new IT infrastructure for the Alat terminal,” he said.
At the same time, as the envoy said, Italy has a vast trade deficit with Azerbaijan.
“This is why we look to the next few years as an important opportunity to bolster the position of Italian companies here in Azerbaijan – both in terms of exports and industrial cooperation. Of course, as the Azerbaijani economy grows, the middle class rises with it, opening up new opportunities for thousands of our exporting companies. Regarding industrial cooperation, I would not like to repeat my previous comments, but just to recall the decision of our two Heads of State to jointly inaugurate the Sumgayit polypropylene factory in July 2018, during our President’s historic State visit to Azerbaijan. This is exactly the type of project that can become a blueprint on which to build a growing friendship and mutual success: based on strong partnerships, driven by advanced technology and supporting the long-term growth trajectory of the country,” added Massari.
Follow the author on Twitter:@Lyaman_Zeyn