Last week review (Feb. 19-23)

Minister: Azerbaijan eyes to achieve maximum economic interaction with Pakistan

Pakistan and Azerbaijan have great potential for trade and economic cooperation, the Pakistani media quoted the country's president Mamnoon Hussain Feb. 19.

During the meeting with Azerbaijani Minister of Finance Samir Sharifov in Pakistan, the president noted that both countries must make efforts to use this potential.

President Hussain also stressed the need to create mutual trade and industrial delegations.

The Pakistani president also touched upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that Pakistan respects Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and supports the country in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

In his turn, Sharifov noted that both countries share one position on regional and international issues and support each other on international platforms, which reflects close and fraternal ties between the countries.

The minister stressed that Azerbaijan also supports Pakistan in the issue of Kashmir, and noted the need to resolve this conflict within the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Sharifov added that Azerbaijan wants to achieve maximum economic interaction with Pakistan.

The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Pakistan amounted to $8.25 million in 2017, of which more than $1.8 million accounted for the export of Azerbaijani goods to Pakistan, according to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee.

Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan energy co-op discussed at meeting of working group in Baku

The first meeting of a joint working group created on the basis of a memorandum of understanding on further development of energy cooperation between the Azerbaijani and Turkmen governments dated August 8, 2017 was held in Baku, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a message Feb. 19.

According to the message, the delegations led by Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov and Chairman of the State Enterprise for Caspian Sea Affairs under the President of Turkmenistan Murat Atadjanov attended the meeting.

During the meeting it was stressed that the agreements reached at the level of the presidents of the two countries give an impetus to the further strengthening of friendly and good-neighborly relations and the development of fruitful cooperation.

The participants of the meeting stressed that the coordination of the draft convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea at the end of 2017 in Moscow will serve to resolve the issues of mutual interest concerning the Caspian Sea.

The prospects for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries on the basis of the principles of equality and for the achievement of the goals of the memorandum of understanding were discussed during the meeting.

The sides discussed the issues related to the delimitation of the Caspian Sea bottom between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

Taking into account that both countries have great energy potential, the discussions on the improvement of the legal basis on the Caspian Sea were held to reach further agreements that will allow uniting efforts in this sphere and expanding energy projects. An agreement was also reached to hold the next meeting in Turkmenistan.

“Central Asian countries show great interest in BTK project”

Vienna hosted a meeting between Javid Gurbanov, chairman of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC and Andreas Mattha, CEO of Austrian Federal Railways, the Azerbaijan Railways CJSC said in a message.

At the meeting, the sides discussed possibilities of transporting cargoes along the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway from China to Europe and vice versa.

Gurbanov provided detailed information on the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, the North-South and South-West transport corridors, in particular the BTK railway commissioned in October last year, and noted that this railway will connect Asia with Europe.

It was noted that during his speech at the BTK opening ceremony, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev stressed that this railway will connect three countries and continents.

At the meeting, it was also noted that Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India expressed interest in joining this project first of all. The Central Asian countries show great interest in the project, Gurbanov said.

The new BTK railway network facilitates connection of the Trans-European and Trans-Asian railway networks, direct access of cargo and passengers to Europe and Asia through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, Gurbanov noted, adding that the BTK railway serves to increase the transit potential of the countries of the region.

In turn, Andreas Mattha, CEO of Austrian Federal Railways, highly appreciated the work carried out in Azerbaijan on the expansion of transport and logistics capabilities of the country, on the commissioning of the BTK railway Oct. 30, 2017, as well as the opening of other international transport corridors.

An agreement was reached on further expansion of bilateral cooperation.

Azerbaijan expanding export of products to Arab countries

Azerbaijan's Azhazelnut company has signed a contract with an UAE company, the Azerbaijani Economy Ministry said in a message Feb. 21.

According to the message, the contract was signed during the Gulfood 2018 exhibition, which is being held in Dubai, and envisages the export of 40 tons of blanched hazelnuts to the UAE.

The proposals were also discussed to create a distribution network for the export of Azerbaijan's dairy and confectionery products to Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and UAE.

The Gulfood 2018 exhibition, which kicked off on February 18, will last until February 22. Azerbaijan is represented by 23 companies at the exhibition.

The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Arab countries amounted to $324.53 million in 2017, while $259.72 million accounted for export of Azerbaijani goods, according to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee.

Baku ready to host WB and IMF annual meeting

Azerbaijan filed an application to hold the Annual Meeting of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Baku, a source in Azerbaijan's government told Trend.

According to the information, the meeting is to be held in 2021. The WBG will review the candidacies of Baku and other cities in Autumn 2018.

Each autumn, the Boards of Governors of the WBG and IMF hold Annual Meetings to discuss a range of issues related to poverty reduction, international economic development and finance. The Annual Meetings provide a forum for international cooperation and enable the Bank and Fund to better serve their member countries.

The Annual Meetings traditionally are held in Washington two years out of three and, in order to reflect the international character of the two institutions, every third year in a different member country.

In addition to the meetings of the Boards of Governors, the Development Committee and the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) are officially convened. The Development Committee and the IMFC advise the Boards of Governors on issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

In 2018, the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of WBG and IMF will be held in Indonesia. The next two meetings will be held in Washington.

Azerbaijan joined the WBG and IMF in 1992. Azerbaijan's Governor in the Bank is Chairman of Azerbaijan's Central Bank Elman Rustamov, in the Fund - Finance Minister Samir Sharifov.

Azerbaijan, UAE discuss mutual investments

Azerbaijan and the United Arab Emirates (the UAE) discussed further cooperation in mutual investments sphere, Arab media reported on Feb. 21.

The discussions were held during the meeting between Azerbaijan's Minister of Finance Samir Sharifov and UAE Minister of Finance Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the framework of Sharifov's working visit to the UAE.

The two sides exchanged a number of financial issues and means to further develop cooperation between the two friendly countries in the field of joint investments of mutual benefit.

Sharifov praised the financial institutions in the country, referring to the Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, and its role in attracting major international financial companies and banks, thus contributing to stimulating the movement of investments in the country and boost its national economy.

He expressed hope to establish constructive cooperation between the DIFC and the Azeri financial institutions, especially in the field of exchange of experiences for the benefit of both parties.

Azerbaijan, Jordan may open direct flights

Azerbaijan and Jordan may establish direct air communication, Azerbaijan's Economy Ministry said in its message on Feb. 21.

The topic was discussed during the 3rd meeting of the Azerbaijan-Jordan Intergovernmental Committee on Trade, Economy and Technical Cooperation.

According to the message, talks with tourism companies on arrangement of the direct flights between the countries in upcoming summer season are currently underway.

Talking about cooperation in the tourism sphere, the minister reminded that after the implementation of e-visa in Azerbaijan a number of Jordan tourists increased by 55 percent in 2017, compared to 2016.

Projects of the new agreements between the two counties were discussed during the meeting as well.

The two sides said that discussion of nine agreement projects is currently ongoing. They will cover spheres of science, air communication, security, sea sector, taxes, agriculture etc.

According to the Azerbaijani State Statistics Committee's data, the trade turnover with Jordan amounted to $6.65 million in 2017, 37 percent more compared to 2016.

Azerbaijan to study Russia’s experience in social payments’ audit

Azerbaijan will study the experience of Russia in the audit of social payments, Mehriban Alishanova, a member of Azerbaijan's Chamber of Accounts, said on Feb. 21 in Baku as part of a bilateral meeting with representatives of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation.

She said that cooperation between the highest audit bodies of the two countries has always been at a high level.

"We intend to study Russia's experience in auditing funds that make social security benefit payments at the expense of the Federal Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund of Russia, as well as funds that make social payments at the expense of the Pension Fund and the Social Insurance Fund of Russia," Alishanova said.

She added that despite the differences in the number of pensioners, the territories of the two countries and the payments made, both sides have similar problems and methods for resolving them.

In turn, Olga Samarina, director for expert, analytical and control activities in the area of expenditures of Russia's federal budget for fundamental research, physical culture, sports and social policy, said that the social insurance systems of Russia and Azerbaijan have similar features.

"Organization of the social insurance fund under the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of Azerbaijan became interesting for us, because in Russia these structures are completely independent of each other," she said. "Formation of the revenues of the State Social Protection Fund of Azerbaijan deserves special attention. We will discuss this issue with our colleagues."

She noted that, in turn, Russia is ready to share its own experience in the audit of social payments.

"We have several specific tools, in particular, we conduct a great number of checks, that is, we check not only the budget execution, but also the spending of funds for implementation of specific events of the Pension Fund or the Social Insurance Fund," Samarina said. "This may become interesting for Azerbaijan."

Azerbaijan’s State Motor Road Agency talks plans for 2018

Azerbaijan's State Motor Road Agency has a goal to build more than 2,000 kilometers of roads covering at least 600 villages in 2018, chairman of management board at the Agency, Saleh Mammadov said.

"On top of that, the workplan includes construction of a tunnel in the area of the Baku Olympic Stadium, five pedestrian crossings, some projects in Baku White City, a new road connecting the Ziya Buniyatov Avenue with the Balakhani-Binagadi highway, the Padar-Sabirabad road continuing the Shamakhi-Padar road, a new bridge over the Samur River bordering Russia, reconstruction of two avenues and two streets in Sumgayit, construction of a motor road in the Ganly-gyol area etc.," Mammadov said.

Mammadov added that the Agency plans to build, reconstruct and repair at least 2,171 kilometers of motor roads.

"Work schedule has already been approved," he said. "According to an order of the president, the new M-1 Baku-Guba-Russian border motor road - a part of the transportation corridor - will be built. The Alat-Astara-Iranian border motor road with a length of 243 kilometers will be built and commissioned in 2018."

Azerbaijan, Russia discuss railway transit tariffs

Heads of Azerbaijani and Russian railway agencies, Javid Gurbanov and Oleg Belozerov, discussed development of transportation and the tariffs on the Samur-Akhalkalaki and Samur-Astara routes, Azerbaijan Railways CJSC said in a message Feb. 22.

The sides met at the "Strategic Partnership 1520: Central Europe" business forum held in Vienna.

"Further development of the western part of the North-South international transport corridor, issues of freight and passenger transit via the Samur-Astara and Samur-Akhalkalaki routes, tariff terms and other topics were discussed during the meeting," the message said.

Gurbanov said North-South is among the priority international transport projects for Azerbaijan.

"Azerbaijani side has carried out its obligations in the shortest time. Construction of a railway station and an unloading terminal on a 35-hectare area in Iranian Astara is almost finished," the message said.

Commissioning of the Astara (Azerbaijan)-Astara (Iran) international railway is expected in the next few months. The first six-car test train from Russia has been recently sent via the line.

The International North-South Transport Corridor is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia. It will serve as a link connecting the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At an initial stage, it is planned to transport 5 million tons of cargo per year through the corridor and over 10 million tons of cargo in the future.

Azerbaijan Airlines CJSC, Boeing enter new stage of cooperation

At the invitation of Azerbaijan Airlines, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Commerical Airplanes, Kevin McAllister arrived in Baku on February 22.

During the negotiations, the parties expressed satisfaction with the strong partnership relations that have developed during the long-term cooperation between Azerbaijan Airlines CJSC and Boeing Corporation.

President of Azerbaijan Airlines, Jahangir Askerov noted that cooperation with Boeing Corporation is of strategic nature. In 2000, according to the instructions of Azerbaijani National Leader Heydar Aliyev, for the first time Western-type Boeing 757-200 aircraft were added to the fleet of Azerbaijan Airlines. At that time, with the support of instructors and software Boeing Corporation provided much assistance in mastering and servicing this type of aircraft, as well as organizing ground simulators for B757 / 767 aircraft.

In the following years, under the leadership of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who pays great attention and care to civil aviation, the fleet of Azerbaijan Airlines was replenished by such aircraft as the Boeing 767-300ER, and later by the most modern liners - Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Along with the success of passenger air transportation, the country's air cargo transportation is developing dynamically. Since 2010 the fleet of Azerbaijan's national air cargo carrier Silk Way Airlines was replenished with Boeing 747 F aircraft, and since 2014 the Airline started to operate the newest cargo aircraft Boeing 747-8F, which allowed it to become one of the leading players in the world cargo transportation.

In the near future, passengers of Azerbaijan Airlines will be able to fly on another liner of the new generation. According to the agreement reached between Azerbaijan Airlines and Boeing, Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will start to arrive in Azerbaijan starting from 2018, and till the end of 2020 their total number will reach 10. Till the end of 2022 four more Boeing 787-8 aircraft are also expected to arrive in the country.

In turn, Kevin McAllister highly appreciated the partnership and friendly relations between Boeing and Azerbaijan Airlines and expressed his confidence in further expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation.

During the negotiations, further exploitation and maintenance of all types of Boeing aircrafts operated by Azerbaijani civil aviation, with the participation of our technical center, were also discussed.

Within the visit, the guests got acquainted with Azerbaijani civil aviation facilities, which have been built and reconstructed in recent years - the new airport complex of Heydar Aliyev International Airport (Terminal 1), Baku Cargo Terminal, Silk Way Business Aviation, Silk Way Technics - the complex on maintenance and service of all types of aircrafts, etc.

Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) is one of the leaders of the aviation community of the CIS countries. Total route network of the airline is about 40 destinations in 25 countries. In 2017, Azerbaijan Airlines carried over 2.2 million passengers.

Currently, AZAL operates such aircraft as Boeing 787, Boeing 767, Boeing 757, as well as Airbus 340, Airbus 320, Airbus 319 and Embraer 190.

Aircraft of Azerbaijani civil aviation fully meets the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and Azerbaijan Airlines is a member of the most prestigious civil aviation association - the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In June 2015 Azerbaijan Airlines received a prestigious "4 Stars" from the world-famous British consulting company Skytrax, which is the leader in assessing airline service quality .

The headquarters of Azerbaijan Airlines is located in Baku, at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport, which meets the requirements of international standards. In March 2017, Heydar Aliyev International Airport was awarded the prestigious Skytrax World Airport Award - the airport topped the list of the best airports in Russia and CIS countries in terms of the level of services provided, and again confirmed its compliance with the high level "4 Stars".

Azerbaijan, South Korea expanding economic co-op

South Korea and Azerbaijan agreed to expand bilateral economic cooperation in infrastructure and other sectors, the South Korean Finance Ministry said Feb. 23.

The two sides held high-level talks in Seoul to discuss ways to bolster trade and investment and help more South Korean firms participate in infrastructure projects in the Central Asian country, according to the ministry.

Azerbaijan, located along the Caspian Sea, is known for its rich natural resources, including crude oil and natural gas.

The country is working on projects to expand its infrastructure, such as roads and railways.

During a meeting with South Korean Deputy Finance Minister Ko Hyung-kwon, Azerbaijan's Deputy Finance Minister Emin Huseynov urged South Korean companies to join his country's efforts to expand infrastructure.

Ko responded by saying that the Azerbaijani government should play a key role in wooing South Korean companies to the nation.

President Aliyev receives delegation led by President of American Jewish Committee

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by President of the American Jewish Committee John Shapiro.

Shapiro hailed very good conditions created for the Jewish community in Azerbaijan, describing this as an example to other countries.

President Aliyev described traditional meetings with the delegation of the American Jewish Committee as fruitful. The head of state said all conditions have been ensured in Azerbaijan for the Jewish community, along with representatives of other nations and communities, to enjoy freedom and prosperity .

President Aliyev said representatives of the Jewish community are active members of the Azerbaijani society. They are loyal to their traditions, and are contributing to the country`s development and promotion of Azerbaijan`s realities in the world, the head of state said. President Ilham Aliyev stressed that multiculturalism and tolerance reign in Azerbaijan and became the norm of life in the country.

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