Last week review (March 10-14)
Azerbaijan raises $1.2bn in international bond debut
Azerbaijan has raised $1.25bn in its first international bond sale, in a sign of continued investor interest in emerging economy debt despite the market turmoil in nearby Russia and Ukraine, the Financial Times reported.
Azerbaijan which has an investment grade of Moody's and at Fitch level, sold a benchmark 10-year bond with a five per cent yield on March 10. Investment banks Barclays, Deutsche Bank AG London and Citigroup Global Markets Limited were selected as managers of the government for the first Eurobond issuance.
South Korea allocates loan for construction of water purification plant in Azerbaijan
South Korean government has allocated about $43.5 million for Azerbaijan. The relevant loan agreement was signed by Azerbaijan's Minister of Finance, Samir Sharifov and South Korea's ambassador to Azerbaijan Choi Suk-Yin in Baku, Azerbaijani Ministry of Finance said.
The funds will be allocated from Economic Development Cooperation Fund of South Korea's Export-Import Bank for construction of a water purification plant in Baku's Pirshagi settlement, the ministry said. The water processed in this facility will be used for agricultural irrigation.
Azerbaijan, Russia establish maritime vehicle transportation in Caspian Sea
'Ro-ro' vessels will begin operating between the international ports of Baku and Astrakhan from April 2014. They will transport vehicles, head of the Azerbaijani State Maritime Administration Gudrat Gurbanov said at a meeting with MPs.
"The vessels will operate as part of a relevant intergovernmental agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Russia," he said. MPs visited the building of the Azerbaijani State Maritime Administration on March 11 to view its work. They also discussed the bill on 'Sea Ports' that parliament is considering at present.
Fitch affirms five Azerbaijani private banks' ratings
International ratings agency 'Fitch Ratings' has affirmed the long-term foreign currency issuer default ratings (IDRs) of Azerbaijan-based Unibank (UB) and Demirbank (DB) at 'B', and Atabank (AB), AGBank (AGB) and Bank Technique (BT) at 'B-'.
The outlooks on UB and DB have been revised to Positive from Stable. The outlook on AGB has been revised to Stable from Negative. The outlooks on AB and BT are Stable.
Azerbaijani president receives WB regional director
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by World Bank (WB) Regional Director for the South Caucasus, Henry Kerali. They also discussed how to expand the Azerbaijan-World Bank cooperation in a variety of fields, including agriculture and culture.
New challenges and goals facing Azerbaijan's education system
Investment in education is the best investment that can be made by a state, Azerbaijani Education Minister, Mikayil Jabbarov said. The minister made these remarks speaking at an Azerbaijani investment summit entitled "2020 and beyond; accelerating economic development", held in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku.
"The biggest difficulty to be encountered was that the education system in the country was originally created to meet the Soviet system's needs. Now we see a very different socio-economic reality and therefore we are facing very different purposes and goals," Jabbarov said. The minister said that this matter does not only rest in the technological changes.
"There is a need for a complete and critical review of the entire system in accordance with the objectives of the national economy, as well as formation of human capital," the minister added.
U.S. investors purchase nearly half of Azerbaijan's sovereign Eurobonds
Investors from the U.S. purchased 47 percent of Azerbaijan's sovereign Eurobonds, Azerbaijani Finance Ministry said.
"The demand for placement exceeded the placement's volume by four times and drew the attention of investors from 160 countries. British investors purchased 25 percent of bonds, investors from Germany - 18 percent, and the remaining 10 percent bonds were purchased by buyers from other countries, including Singapore and Israel," the ministry said. The ministry considers the placement successful.
Fitch assigns Azerbaijan's eurobonds 'BBB-' rating
Fitch Ratings has assigned Azerbaijan's USD1.25 billion (bn), 2024 eurobonds a 'BBB-' rating, in line with the sovereign's foreign currency Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR), the agency reported on its official website.
Azerbaijan prepares proposals for cooperation with EU in ICT field
The Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) is preparing proposals on 22 areas of activity of the National Contact Points (NCP) in cooperation with the EU framework programs, director of the Regional Information Technologies Academy (RITA) Tofig Babayev said.
"The European Commission presented its recommendations to all countries participating in the framework programs ("Horizon- 2020") - maximum 22 national coordinators ( one coordinator from NCP and 21 coordinators - in various areas ( ICT , transport, environment and so on)," he said. The proposals on candidates of the national coordinators are being prepared by the academy together with the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. A procedure for considering possible candidates is expected before the end of March 2014.
New alternative ways of financial access to appear in Azerbaijan
Establishing a training centre for capital market participants will increase reliability on the Azerbaijani securities market, head of WB office in Baku Larisa Leshchenko said at the opening of the centre. The training centre was established as part of the WB project for the modernisation of the capital market in Azerbaijan.
"The most successful world countries achieved diversification of the economy by investing in three major components, namely institutional development, infrastructure and human capital development," she said. "Opening the training centre will combine the work on all these components." "The centre's activity will enable the development of new alternative ways of gaining access to the funds in the country in the medium term," she said.
Azerbaijan important partner of Europe in long-term gas supplies
The Southern Gas Corridor is a project allowing Europe to diversify its sources for hydrocarbon supplies and increase energy security and allowing Azerbaijan to obtain a new market represented by Europe, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder said during a conference held at the Azerbaijani- German Chamber of Commerce in Baku. He said despite the fact that gas supplies from Russia are important from geographical point of view, the gas supplies from Azerbaijan have played and will play an important role for Europe.
Azerbaijan invests about $ 1 billion in Russia over 10 years
The Azerbaijani investments in the Russian economy amounted to about $1 billion over the past 10 years, Azerbaijani Economy and Industry Minister, Shahin Mustafayev said during the Azerbaijani-Russian business forum held in Baku. "Last year alone, the volume of investment amounted to about $ 200 million. The economic development of our country has led to the fact that Azerbaijani entrepreneurs have the necessary resources for making investment abroad, and we are interested in the further development of investment activity," he said.
At the same time, about 570 Russian companies operate in the country, according to Mustafayev. A memorandum of understanding was signed in accordance with the results of business forum between Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO),and Ural Chamber of Commerce ( UTPP ). The document was signed by the head of AZPROMO Rufat Mammadov and UTPP President Andrew Besedin.
Azerbaijan, Argentina sign agreement on use of outer space for peaceful purposes
Argentina and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on cooperation in the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies said. The agreement was signed by Azerbaijani Minister of Communications and High Technologies Ali Abbasov and Argentine's Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Lino Barañao, the ministry said.
Azerbaijan became a permanent member of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in January 2012. Previously the country held observer status.
The purpose of the agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Argentina is to create a legal framework for bilateral cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, including space communication, research and staff training.
Azerbaijan liberalizes export-import operations
Only two documents are needed for Azerbaijani entrepreneurs to implement export and import operations, according to the Azerbaijani Minister of Economy and Industry Shahin Mustafayev`s interview posted in the local media. "Thus, with the changes to a number of legal acts for customs control for import-export operations, there will only be required transport documents and direct declaration. Thereby, the number of documents required for imports will decline from 11, and for export - from 8 to just 2. Overall, the list of necessary documents will be reduced from 19 to 4, " Mustafayev said.
Azerbaijani, Turkish, Iranian railways can be connected
Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran are considering the possibilities of connecting their railways, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov said after the meeting of the three countries' foreign ministers in Van (Turkey).
The issue of connecting Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) and Nakhchivan-Julfa-Tabriz railways was also discussed during the meeting of Azerbaijani, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers, according to the minister.
Foundation laid for new checkpoint on Azerbaijani-Turkish border
Foundation of the new Diluju checkpoint between Turkey and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic was laid, Turkish Customs and Trade Minister, Hayati Yazici wrote on his Twitter page. He said the construction of the checkpoint should be completed by late 2014.
Yazici believes that the checkpoint will contribute to development of economies not only of the two countries, but also of the entire region. Previously, Turkish Deputy Customs and Trade Minister, Ziya Altunyaldiz said creation of a new checkpoint will cost 34 million Turkish liras ($15.23 million).
AmCham calls for accelerating credit bureau creation in Azerbaijan
The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Azerbaijan has called for the speeding up the process to create the country's first private credit bureau. This is stated in a package of proposals for the development of the business climate in Azerbaijan in 2014, published annually by the Chamber.
'The credit bureaus are essential for the effective management of the corresponding risks. Their activities will reduce the volume of overdue loans and consequently a reduction in the cost of lending resulting in the lowering of interest rates', the package said.
'It is also necessary to note the progress on the work of adoption of the law 'On the private credit bureaus'. Furthermore, the Chamber recommends expansion of the Centralised Credit Registry through inclusion of the information received from utility companies, as well as introduction of detailed information on lien', the package of proposals said.