Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (Oct. 24-28)

Azerbaijan may export 3,000-4,000 tons of tobacco annually

Azerbaijan will not only be able to meet the domestic demand for tobacco, but also to annually export 3,000-4,000 tons of tobacco in the future, Rufat Guliyev, the chairman of the board of the European Tobacco Baku OJSC, the largest tobacco producer in Azerbaijan, said.

He added that this will happen if Azerbaijan increases product quality and brings tobacco prices to the average European level.

“Nearly 1,000 tons of Azerbaijani tobacco may be used for the local market if the quality of tobacco increases,” the head of the European Tobacco Baku OJSC said.

“The remaining part can be sent for export. To do this, first of all, it is necessary to increase the experience of tobacco manufacturers.”

“For this purpose, we even send our foreign specialists to different districts of Azerbaijan,” he added.

Azerbaijan also needs to start growing varieties of tobacco used in Europe, and the country has all the necessary climatic conditions for that, Guliyev noted.

Head of European Tobacco Baku OJSC said that the company intends to increase the share of the Azerbaijani tobacco in their cigarettes.

“We already use local tobacco in our own cigarettes, the share of which in the blends is about 50 percent,” Guliyev said. “However, due to the poor quality, tobacco undergoes serious selection. Currently, we plan to increase the share of local tobacco in our blend of cigarettes to 55-60 percent.”

He added that it is the highest possible share, given the fact that the company produces relatively cheap cigarettes.

Some 3,100 tons of tobacco were produced in Azerbaijan in January-September 2016, which is 9.8 percent more than in the same period last year, according to the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan.

Djibouti DGZ head talks Azerbaijan’s free trade zone

Creation of a free trade zone (FTZ) in Azerbaijan around the Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat settlement is a project with a great future, Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority (DGZ), said in an exclusive interview with Trend in Baku.

He said the creation of an FTZ is a very important factor for attracting cargo traffic and investments to Azerbaijan.

Djibouti has an extensive experience in the FTZ creation, Hadi said, adding the first FTZ was established back in 1954, more than 60 years ago.

The FTZ will create economic revival in the port and attract business operations to Azerbaijan, he added.

Products are received, processed, re-exported in this zone, and it is very comfortable and good for the parties involved, Hadi noted.

Many countries integrate the work of their customs services into the FTZs, he said.

In Djibouti, the FTZ covers not only a port, but also an airport, which greatly facilitates the work, Hadi noted.

He thinks that at least the sea port and the FTZ should be under a single management.

He added that a delegation from Djibouti arrived in Azerbaijan to share its experience and gave some recommendations for the establishment of the FTZ.

Hadi said the delegation told about the mistakes Djibouti made when creating the FTZ, so that Azerbaijan would not repeat them.

He believes that the most important part of creating an FTZ is the development of a legal framework, adding that it must necessarily exist.

Some countries that didn’t have free market traditions, free trade zones, cannot understand why they have to change the laws, he noted. But if the state wants to create an FTZ, it must begin with the legal framework in order to attract businessmen and large companies, simplify the customs procedures, Hadi added.

He said Djibouti issues visas and work permits directly at the port in the FTZ.

It is a common practice, he added. Visas are issued only for the businessmen working in the FTZ, Hadi said, adding that this is a very important point, and everything works on the principle of “a single window”.

This is something that Djibouti recommends Azerbaijan to create in Baku, he noted.

A specific law on the FTZ is also needed, he said.

The concept is very simple, Hadi said, explaining that the FTZ territory shouldn’t be considered as a territory of Azerbaijan.

All this is needed in order to attract companies, and that will create jobs for local youth, he added.

In addition, these companies shouldn’t pay taxes, Hadi said.

They will bring profit through their investments, he noted.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree March 17, 2016, on measures to create a free trade zone type special economic area in the Alat township of Baku’s Garadagh district.

A draft law on the free trade zone will be discussed during the fall session of the country’s parliament.

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