Last week review (Feb. 26-March 2)

Analysis Materials 5 March 2018 17:25 (UTC +04:00)

Honey processing facility may appear in Azerbaijan’s Gakh district

The National Fund for Entrepreneurship Support (NFES) under the Economy Ministry of Azerbaijan has begun accepting investment projects on priority development areas in the Gakh district, the Economy Ministry said in a message Feb. 26.

The NFES considered it expedient to start accepting proposals of entrepreneurs on investment projects on implementation of startups, creation of horticultural farms, tobacco growing and beekeeping farms, as well as honey processing and packaging facility, tobacco processing facility and a dried tobacco warehouse.

In addition, acceptance of proposals of entrepreneurs on investment projects on creation of a hotel started.

Entrepreneurs can apply to the Fund through authorized credit organizations. Small projects can be fully financed through concessional loans.

As many as 170 million manats are planned to be issued in preferential loans to entrepreneurs in 2018.

Azerbaijan can become first country in Caucasus region to gain representation in IPRA

The representatives of Azerbaijani Public Relations Association (APRA) have met with IPRA President Bart de Vries within the framework of his visit to Baku.

The parties came together to identify spheres for potential cooperation between the two associations and agreed on several important topics to influence the development of public relations discipline in Azerbaijan.

One of the topics of discussion was IPRA's membership opportunities for local PR practitioners who seek access to the global PR industry and international exposure for their careers. The President of IPRA mentioned interest in broadening IPRA's membership geography across various parts of the world.

According to him, Azerbaijan can be the first country in the Caucasus region to gain a representation in International Public Relations Association, and that could be achieved by authorising APRA to set-up a regional IPRA Chapter.

"Establishing an APRA-IPRA Chapter in Azerbaijan can be an excellent way forward for both organizations to grow their footprint and representation in the community of professional communicators", said Mr. De Vries.

Participants also exchanged their views on the annual Golden World Awards (GWA), IPRA's global award scheme recognizing excellence in public relations practice in a wide variety of categories. APRA can help drive entries in the GWA from, first, Azerbaijan and the greater Caucasus region.

Conversely, by participating in the GWA, professionals in Azerbaijan can gain valuable insights, experience and contacts.

Both parties agreed to continue their constructive dialogue with a view towards exchanging documents and Guidelines and working toward setting up cooperation.

Azerbaijan allocates subsidies worth over 22M manats to farmers

The republican commission of Azerbaijan's Agriculture Ministry has made a decision to allocate subsidies worth 22.505 million manats to 19,086 agricultural producers in the country, the ministry said in a message Feb. 27.

The decision was made at a regular meeting of the commission under the leadership of its chairman, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Ilham Guliyev.

The subsidies were allocated to producers of cotton, tobacco and sugar beet.

The relevant documents for the payment of funds to producers were sent to Azerbaijan's Finance Ministry, Kapital Bank OJSC and to the relevant regional departments of the Agriculture Ministry and local executive authorities.

The subsidy to cotton producers for each kilogram of raw cotton sold to processing facilities in Azerbaijan is 0.1 manats, this is while subsidy to tobacco producers for each kilogram of dry tobacco and for every 10 kilograms of raw tobacco amounts to 0.05 manats.

Azerbaijan to allocate about 200M manats to increase pensions, social benefits

Azerbaijan will additionally allocate about 200 million manats to finance the increase of pensions and social benefits in the country this year, Azerbaijani Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population Salim Muslumov told reporters in Baku Feb. 27.

The minister noted that pensions and social benefits of a total of 1.856 million people will be increased in Azerbaijan.

He said that during February, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a total of 13 decrees and orders aimed at increasing pensions and social benefits, which shows the president's special attention to the social protection of Azerbaijani population.

Muslumov noted that on Feb. 9, Ilham Aliyev signed an order on indexation of the insurance part of pensions in Azerbaijan. The order covered 1.236 million people and 165.4 million manats were additionally allocated for the order's implementation, Muslumov added.

Last week, the Azerbaijani president signed nine more documents that cover nine categories of persons receiving presidential pensions, Muslumov said.

"As a result, the pension of these categories of persons will be increased by 10 percent from March 1, 2018," he noted.

"Thus, the pension for the families of martyrs will grow from 220 manats to 242 manats, the pension for the families of servicemen who were killed and went missing while performing international duty as part of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan will grow from 200 manats to 220 manats. The pension for the first group handicaps of war and 20 January events will be increased from 165 manats to 181.5 manats, the pension for the second group invalids of war and 20 January events will be increased from 143 manats to 157.3 manats, and the pension for the third group of invalids of war and 20 January events will grow from 110 manats to 121 manats. This is while the pension of a certain category of persons participated in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 will grow from 110 manats to 121 manats."

In addition, allowances for invalids of the first group will be increased by 10 percent, the monthly amount of the presidential pension to the National Heroes of Azerbaijan will be increased from 1,300 manats to 1,500 manats, the personal presidential pension will grow from 1,300 manats to 1,450 manats, monthly scholarships for the "People's" honorary title will be increased from 100 manats to 150 manats, and monthly scholarships for the honorary title "Honored" will grow from 60 manats to 100 manats, Muslumov said.

He added that these nine decrees and orders cover up to 60,000 people, and 9.7 million manats will be allocated from the state budget for their implementation by the end of the year.

The minister also noted that the orders of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev "On increasing the amount of social benefits", "On increasing the amount of benefits for women with more than five children" and "On increasing the amount of benefits for those on a partially paid social leave to take care of their children" dated Feb. 23, 2018, will affect about 560,000 people.

For the payment of the corresponding increments to the specified social benefits, about 23.2 million manats will be allocated from the state budget by the end of the year, while additional funds worth up to 1.7 million manats will be allocated from the budget of the State Social Protection Fund under the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population, he added.

President Aliyev and his spouse attend opening of yarn plants in Mingachevir

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva have attended the opening of two yarn production plants owned by Mingachevir Tekstil LLC in the Mingachevir Industrial Park.

Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev and project manager Mehriban Akhundova informed the head of state and his wife that the National Fund for Entrepreneurship Support of the Ministry of Economy allocated a 10 million manat soft loan to create plants with a total cost of 144 million manats. The state-of-the-art plants are supplied with equipment of leading companies of Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Japan.

The plants will have an annual production of 20,000 tons of yarn, including 10,000 tons made through Ring method and 10,000 tons through Open End method.

The head of state and his wife posed for photographs together with employees.

President Ilham Aliyev then launched the Open End method yarn production plant.

President Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva toured a canteen.

After familiarizing themselves with the new plants, the head of state and his wife met with employees and representatives of local public.

Employee Huseyn Hashimov thanked the head of state for supporting construction of new plants and his attention to the development of the city.

President Aliyev inaugurates drinking water supply system in Mingachavir

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has attended commissioning of the drinking water supply system in Mingachevir city.

Chairman of JSC Azersu Gorkhmaz Huseynov informed the head of state about the work carried out in the framework of the reconstruction project of water supply and sewerage system in the city of Mingachevir.

The implementation of the project on reconstruction of drinking water supply and sewerage systems of the city of Mingachevir started in October, 2011 under the State Program on socio-economic development of regions. The project is designed to improve drinking water and sewerage services for 151,000 people in the city of Mingachevir.

A 103km section of the 236km-long sewerage network was built.

President Aliyev then pressed a button to launch the drinking water supply system of Mingachevir.

China sends freight train to Italy through Azerbaijan

China has sent a thousandth freight train on the China-Europe route, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The train left the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in north-west China and will pass through Azerbaijan, according to the report.

The freight train carrying tomato sauce produced in Xinjiang, left Urumqi city, the administrative center of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the report said.

For the first time, the cargo will be delivered to the Italian city of Naples, the report noted.

The freight train will cross the state border at the Khorgos border crossing, proceed through Kazakhstan to the Kuryk port, from where it will travel on a roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) vessel via the Caspian Sea to the new Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat settlement and further to the Georgian port of Poti. At the port, the cargo will be loaded onto a vessel that will take it to Naples via the Black and Mediterranean seas.

A 10,500 km-journey will take 25 days, which is almost twice less than the travel time via sea alone.

Economy ministry talks on sales of Azerbaijani products abroad

One can already see Azerbaijani products in foreign markets, Azerbaijan Deputy Minister of Economy Sahib Mammadov said at the conference entitled "Support for small business" in Baku Feb. 27.

Mammadov said that along with the work conducted by entrepreneurs, the reforms carried out in Azerbaijan played a big role in this issue.

"Major reforms aimed at supporting entrepreneurship have been carried out at the initiative of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev since the end of 2015," he said. "The licensing process has been greatly simplified. Entrepreneurs have been exempted from a number of taxes. Business has been exempted from inspections. A big mechanism was created to support and encourage exports and investments. All these greatly increased the competitiveness of the Azerbaijani economy."

In conclusion, Mammadov added that the country's government will continue to carry out reforms to increase the share of small and medium-sized entrepreneurship in the country's GDP.

Netherlands can offer technical support for new Baku port

The Netherlands can offer technical support for the Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat township in Azerbaijan, former president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), chairman of the Dutch Friends of Azerbaijan Group Rene van der Linden said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

He noted that in March a high-level delegation from the Port of Baku will visit Venlo, the most important logistics center in the Netherlands on the mainland.

"We have huge industrial settlements, all connected to logistics facilities. We can offer the most modern innovative way of dealing with logistics," said Rene van der Linden.

He noted that at the moment, the discussions are being held at the level of Dutch government and the Port of Baku.

Azerbaijan is now building a modern port with all the facilities and the Netherlands can render technical support on the basis of its longstanding experience.

Earlier, Azerbaijan's Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev said that the first phase of construction of the Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat settlement will be completed in May 2018.

Mustafayev noted that after the first phase's completion, the port's capacity will be 15 million tons per year.

"The port's capacity will be increased up to 25 million tons of cargo and 500,000 containers per year at the second stage, and up to one million containers per year - at the next stage," noted the minister.

In 2017, the volume of freight traffic through the Baku International Sea Trade Port (excluding the oil terminal) rose by 31 percent and totaled 4.4 million tons as compared to 2016. About 85.7 percent of the total volume accounted for the share of transit cargo transportation.

Azerbaijan main tomato supplier to Russia in 2017

Azerbaijan was a leader in tomato export to Russia in 2017, Russian media reported citing Federal Customs Committee.

Azerbaijan increased its export volume by 50 percent to 151,000 tons ($151 million). Azerbaijan's share in Russian tomato import increased from 22 percent in 2016 to 30 percent in 2017.

Russia accounted for 99.8 percent of Azerbaijan's total tomato export in 2017.

China held the second place with 109,000 tons (a 26-percent increase from 2016). Morocco went down to the third place from the first place it held in 2016. The country's share correspondingly decreased to 23 percent with 97,000 tons.

Belarus with 70,000 tons and Iran with 9,000 tons also entered the Top 5.

Azerbaijan, South Africa expanding economic co-op

The Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) and the South African Embassy in Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding.

The memorandum was signed during presentation of investment opportunities of South Africa, which was held in Baku Feb. 28. The document was signed by AZPROMO head Rufat Mammadov and ambassador of South Africa in Turkey and Azerbaijan Pule Isaac Malefane.

The document envisages the exchange of information on investment and trade opportunities between the two countries, Mammadov told Trend Feb. 28.

"At the same time, the document envisages the exchange of information on regulation of investment activity," he said. "The South African embassy will support the work of Azerbaijani companies in South Africa. In our turn, we will support the South African companies willing to work in Azerbaijan."

Mammadov said that in general, the memorandum covers cooperation in trade and investment promotion between the two countries.

Trade turnover between Azerbaijan and South Africa amounted to $7.16 million in 2017, according to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee. Most of that amount accounted for import of products from South Africa. The trade turnover increased by 9.8 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.

Azerbaijan fulfills all commitments on North-South transport corridor’s implementation

Azerbaijan fulfilled all commitments undertaken as part of the International North-South Transport Corridor project's implementation, Javid Gurbanov, chairman of the Azerbaijan Railways CJSC, said.

He made the remarks March 1 at a meeting with deputy minister of roads and urban development of Iran, Director General of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Saeed Mohammadzadeh, the Azerbaijan Railways CJSC said in a message.

At the meeting, the sides discussed construction of Iran's Astara terminal, the transportation prospects along the Astara (Iran) - Astara (Azerbaijan) railway as part of the International North-South Transport Corridor.

Gurbanov said that the construction of the railway station in Iran's Astara and the construction of terminals for unloading of cargo are being completed at the territory of 35 hectares.

Gurbanov also noted that Azerbaijan Railways and Islamic Republic of Iran Railways signed an agreement on the project "Construction and operation of the Astara loading and unloading terminal".

According to the agreement, the Azerbaijan Railways CJSC leases a 1.4 kilometer-long railway line for 15 years, and a terminal for 25 years, he said, adding that the Astara (Azerbaijan) - Astara (Iran) international railway is planned to be commissioned in the near future.

During the discussions it was noted that the International North-South Transport Corridor will unite the railways of the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Azerbaijan in a single network.

Saeed Mohammadzadeh said that this project will strengthen the railway communications of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia, the transit and economic potential of these countries, as well as give impetus to the cargo flow in this direction.

The Astara (Iran) - Astara (Azerbaijan) railway line, which is the basis of the International North-South Transport Corridor, will connect the railway systems of Iran and Russia through Azerbaijan.

Minister talks details of Azerbaijan's Agency for Development of SMEs

The Agency for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) has been established under the Ministry of Economy under the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, dated Dec. 28, 2017.

Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev spoke to Trend News Agency regarding the activities of the new Agency and its role in the development of entrepreneurship.

Mr. Minister, what is the necessity of establishing this authority?

The measures on further expansion of entrepreneurship activity, further improvement of business and investment environment in our country continue in line with the socio-economic development policy implemented under the leadership of the Azerbaijani president. Reforms meeting the new economic conditions are being carried out in order to support the private sector, the protection of entrepreneurs' rights and interests, and the mechanisms that meet modern challenges are being used, taking into account international experience. The number of entrepreneurship subjects has increased by 4.3 times over the past 15 years as a result of measures of state support for entrepreneurship, and the share of private sector in gross domestic product exceeded 80 percent, and the share of employment exceeded 75 percent.

Ensuring the continuity of success achieved as a result of implemented measures makes it necessary to improve the regulation of entrepreneurial activity, and the use of a systematic approach to expanding the volume and scope of technical, financial and other services for entrepreneurs, especially small and medium-sized entrepreneurship, and improving their quality.

All this, as well as the targets defined in the "Strategic Road Map for the Production of Consumer Goods at the level of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in the Republic of Azerbaijan", dated Dec. 6, 2016, approved by a decree of the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the head of state signed a decree on further improvement of the management of small and medium-sized enterprises. Under the decree, the Agency for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been established under the Ministry of Economy.

Progressive international management practices used in entrepreneurship development and regulation have been studied while preparing the proposals in this area. There are relevant institutions in several developed countries that assist in the introduction of investment, modern technologies, advanced management practices in entrepreneurship, especially for the development of SMEs and, this way, encourage innovative mechanisms and foreign economic activity in order to produce high-quality, competitive and export-oriented products, provide information, legal and economical advisory services to subjects of entrepreneurial activity, and in the establishment of effective cooperation with government, local and foreign partners.

The establishment of the Agency for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, which will play a special role in the development of the private sector in Azerbaijan, is another example of the great attention and care paid by the head of state to the development of the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

What are the main activities of the agency?

Under the decree of the Azerbaijani president, the main task of the Agency for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises is to increase the role and competitiveness of SMEs in the country, support their development, provide services to SMEs, coordinate activities of state authorities and organizations, preparation of proposals for improvement of state regulation system with regard to SMEs, as well as the use of advanced international experience in the field of state support.

According to the tasks set by the head of state, the agency will assist in the development of support infrastructure for SMEs and will ensure the luring of funds from domestic, foreign and international organizations in order to support SMEs, and the preparation and implementation of targeted programs.

Another area of the Agency's activity is arranging access to training, consulting, information, innovation, law, finance, human (personnel) and information and communication resources related to entrepreneurial activity of SMEs, marketing and sale support, project management, corporate management and other communicative mechanisms used in international practice, as well as services provided by the state bodies and organizations in a single space "SME houses", and digitalization of services provided to them.

All these services will be implemented in accordance with the principles of operability, transparency, courtesy, responsibility and flexibility by ensuring the satisfaction of an entrepreneur.

Furthermore, the agency will develop proposals on measures related to increasing participation of SMEs in public procurement, protection of the rights of small and medium-sized businesses, attraction of foreign and local organizations in supporting of SMEs and improving regulatory legal acts in this area.

What small, medium entrepreneurs gain from the agency's activity?

The experience of leading countries shows that the arrangement of the services provided to small and medium entrepreneurs in a single space on the principle of "single window" plays an important role in ensuring the quality and availability of these services along with giving positive results.

In addition to the services provided by the Agency on the directions that we have mentioned, it will be beneficial for entrepreneurs that all the essential services required for SMEs, particularly, the study of domestic markets, establishment of contacts with scientific and educational institutions, introduction of advanced scientific and technological innovations, support to the sale of products produced by entrepreneurs, organization of activity of business incubators, consideration of entrepreneurs' applications and other services are implemented through "SME Houses", and will play an important role in the organization of their efficient activities.

Furthermore, it is planned to create a unified information portal for broadening SMEs' access to the legislative and business knowledge, specialist bank and various sources of information, creation of opportunities for using public services in one place and strengthening of business and partnership relations.

What work has been done to organize the activity of the agency?

Presently, the work is underway to ensure the activity of the Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development Agency, and to formulate a regulatory legal framework. Thus, a draft of relevant normative-legal documents has been developed and is in a stage of coordination with relevant state agencies.

Orkhan Mammadov, who worked at the Economy Ministry for a long time and has experience in this field , was appointed the executive director of the Agency.

I would like to reiterate that the launch of the Agency and "SME houses" as the implementation of the tasks set by the president of Azerbaijan within the relevant decree, will allow to bring the management system in this area in line with the modern requirements, further improve institutional support mechanisms and provide a convenient access to all services necessary for SMEs in a single space.

SOFAZ to finance four projects in 2018

In the 2018 budget-year, Azerbaijan's state oil fund SOFAZ is projected to continue financing four strategic programs, a source in SOFAZ told Trend and Azernews.

Out of them two are infrastructural: the Samur-Absheron irrigation system reconstruction project and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars new railway project, said the source.

The other two projects reflect social responsibility: measures related to social and settlement issues of refugees and internally displaced people; and the "State Program on Education of the Azerbaijani youth abroad in 2007-2015", added the source.

Overall, expenditures on all the four projects are equal to 482.3 million manats, below 5 percent of the Fund's overall expenditures, noted the representative of SOFAZ.

"In order to preserve the SOFAZ's incomes, the use of alternative funding sources has been increasing. For example, since 2017 SOFAZ has not been contributing to the South Gas Corridor which is now financed via debt instruments," said the source.

Based on SOFAZ's regulations, its funds may be used for construction and reconstruction of strategically important infrastructure facilities, as well as solving important national problems.

The main goals of the State Oil Fund include: accumulation of resources and placement of the Fund's assets abroad in order to minimize the negative effect on the economy, the prevention of "Dutch disease" to some extent, promotion of resource accumulation for future generations, and support of current social and economic processes in Azerbaijan.

Director of Agency for Development of SMEs appointed in Azerbaijan

Orkhan Mammadov has been appointed executive director of the Agency for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) under Azerbaijan's Ministry of Economy, the ministry told Trend Feb. 28.

He served as chief advisor, deputy director and director in the Department of Entrepreneurship Development Policy and the Department of Interstate Economic Cooperation of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Economy in 2007-2018.

In December 2017, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev decreed to create the Agency for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises under the Ministry of Economy.

According to the decree, the Agency is a public legal entity that supports the development of small and medium-sized businesses in the country, provides a range of services to the SMEs, coordinates and regulates the services of state bodies in this field.

The chairman of the Agency's Supervisory Board is the minister of economy. The executive director manages the Agency. The minister of economy in agreement with the president appoints or dismisses the executive director of the Agency.

Also according to the decree, small and medium-sized entrepreneurship (SME) houses will operate at the ASAN Service centers. The SME houses will operate at the regional departments of the Economy Ministry in those districts of the country where the ASAN Service centers are not available. The SME houses will be controlled by the Agency for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

The SME houses will render a range of services, including training, consulting, information, financial and other services.

Azerbaijan, Belarus mull int’l security issues

Azerbaijan and Belarus have discussed topical issues of international security and the results of the bilateral cooperation, BelTA news agency reported, citing the State Secretariat of the Security Council of Belarus.

Discussions were held during the meeting of Fuad Alasgarov, assistant to the Azerbaijani president for work with law enforcement bodies and military issues, with Stanislav Zas, state secretary of the Security Council of Belarus.

Azerbaijan’s High-Tech Park starts implementing own road maps

The High Tech Park LLC of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan is starting to implement its own road maps, the key aspect of which is the formation of favorable investment climate for IT companies, Tural Karimli, executive director of High Tech Park LLC, told Trend.

He said that proposals regarding the legislative regulation have also been prepared, and they will be submitted to higher authorities.

"When it comes to encouraging foreign investments, it is envisaged to create acceptable conditions for foreign vendors so that they would be interested in manufacturing their products in Azerbaijan," he noted.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the establishment of the High Tech Park Nov. 5, 2012.