Last week review (March 19-23)

President Aliyev: 2018 to become year of development for Azerbaijan

Last year was a year of stabilization for Azerbaijan in the economic sphere and 2018 is a year of development, said Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.

He made the remarks addressing a republican conference on development of cotton-growing in Barda District on March 26.

"As during the last year, this year all relevant structures, central and local executive authorities, vendor companies, farmers and workpeople should act as one team. The problems existing during the season, that's to say, the problems that will emerge, should be resolved immediately. And we should complete this year with maximum profit," said the head of state.

"I mentioned the figures related to labor resources. Around 200,000 people were involved in these works. Local executive authorities should work and provide information with the purpose of identifying labor resources in regions and attracting them to these works. That's to say, cotton-growing is a very favorable sphere for earning money every day. It is necessary to ensure serious analysis of our labor resources in regions, because, as a result of growing economic activity in Azerbaijan, tens of thousands of new jobs have been created, including in the private sector, as currently, the state renders great support to the private sector," said President Aliyev.

The head of state pointed out that 2017 was a year of stabilization in the economic sphere and 2018 is a year of development.

"Economic indicators of this year are encouraging. Over the two months, the non-oil industry has grown by more than 8 percent, while non-oil sector and agriculture have increased by 2.3 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. Plant growing has increased by over 40 percent. Therefore, economic activity paves way for creating jobs in the private sector," said the president.

The head of state went on to add that at the same time, very active work is underway in cotton-growing and other spheres of agriculture.

"New jobs are created there as well. It is already several years that citizens are also involved in social works organized by the state at my initiative. As I was informed yesterday, hundreds of people have been involved in social works in Barda city alone. Almost the same situation can be seen in other cities. Therefore, we should know about our labor resources. Both central and local executive authorities should analyze this. We should build our future economic development, including our plans regarding planting areas, in general, our plans related to economic sphere and industry, on the proper analysis of our labor resources," said President Aliyev.

Further, the head of state noted that demographic dynamics in Azerbaijan is very positive, the population is growing and will reach the level of ten million in the near future.

"This is our great privilege and we should use our labor resources effectively. It is necessary to pay serious attention to this sphere in this season. In one word, I am confident that positive and negative sides of the last year's results will be seriously analyzed this year. We will achieve even better results this year. Productivity, cotton supply will grow, and cotton-growing will continue to develop rapidly," added President Aliyev.

Moldova supports strengthening of bilateral co-op with Azerbaijan: FM

During the recent period, bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Moldova have been developing dynamically in all areas of cooperation, Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Tudor Ulianovschi said in an interview with Trend.

He noted that throughout the last two years, significant positive trends in economic cooperation, including commercial exchanges were registered.

"For instance, the turnover between the two countries in 2016 increased by 39 percent compared to 2015 and by 41 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. In spite of this, we believe that the economic and commercial potential does not match the excellent level of relations between our two countries and still remains quite high, especially in some priority areas," Ulianovschi said.

The minister stressed that Moldova supports the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the economic, trade and investment fields.

"We are confident that through the Inter-Governmental Joint Commission on economic cooperation and the Business Forum, to be held in the near future in Baku, we will further capitalize on the existing potential cooperation in areas such as agriculture, energy, industry, transport, tourism and other priority areas, to the mutual benefit of our countries," Ulianovschi said.

He noted that several high level visits planned to take place during the current year will also be of special importance for this process and further enhancement of political and economic cooperation between the two countries.

According to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, the trade turnover with Moldova in January-February 2018 amounted to $1.17 million, which is 12.5 percent more than the same period of 2017.

Moldova interested in investment cooperation with Azerbaijan: Foreign Minister

Moldovan companies interested in investing in Azerbaijan's economy, Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Tudor Ulianovschi said in an interview with Trend.

The minister noted that there are favorable incentives for certain investment of Moldovan companies in the Azerbaijani economy.

"According to the economic experts, there are favorable incentives for certain investment of Moldovan companies in the Azerbaijani economy, including through the existing and new joint enterprises, by sharing expertise and participating in the development of such economic sectors as agriculture, including viticulture and winemaking production, food processing and farming equipment production, green-house construction, as well as wood processing, furniture and carpet manufacturing," he said.

Ulianovschi stressed that presently, more than one hundred joint enterprises with a capital of around $2 million are operating in Azerbaijan and Moldova. Still, according to him, the potential for investment is much higher, especially since both countries provide an excellent environment for that.

"It seems that at this stage business communities from both countries are still to identify sources and conditions for investment, and consequently assisting them in this process remains one of the most important tasks of the relevant governmental institutions from both countries," the minister said.

Ulianovschi further added that Moldova is also interested in attracting investments in many sectors of the economy.

"Having a wide range of investment opportunities, Moldova is one of the most attractive destinations for direct foreign investments. Presently, the main reasons to invest in our country are political stability, economic growth and a very friendly and non-discriminatory investment environment, including freedom of investment, transparency, guarantees of investor rights and against loss, as well as resolution of disputes and other rights. In addition, great opportunities for foreign investments are offered by the 7 free economic zones with 11 sub-zones and 10 industrial parks operating in Moldova. As for main fields of investment; they are agriculture, automotive, textile, renewable energy, transportation, ICT and medicine. We confirm our interest in further promoting and supporting investment projects of economic entities of the two countries and given the existence of a favorable investment climate and attractive conditions for business development in the Republic of Moldova we are interested in the participation of potential Azerbaijani partners in the activities of the Free Economic Zones and Industrial Parks," the minister said.

New opportunities for investment in these and other sectors of the Moldovan economy are also offered by the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) signed by the Republic of Moldova with the European Union, according to the minister.

Ulianovschi voiced belief that the free trade regime between Moldova and the EU provides all the necessary conditions for attracting investments of Azerbaijani companies, such as from the processing sector of Azerbaijani raw materials and manufacturing goods for export to the EU markets.

"We hope that the development of the Moldovan-Azerbaijani relations in the economic, trade and investment areas will be significantly boosted as a result of holding, in the near future, the 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Moldovan-Azerbaijani Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation (IPC) and organizing a business forum within its framework," the minister noted.

According to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee, the trade turnover with Moldova in January-February 2018 amounted to $1.17 million, which is 12.5 percent more than the same period of 2017.

Moldova offers to review tourism agreement with Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan and Moldova may review the existing agreement on cooperation in tourism sector if needed, Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Tudor Ulianovschi said in an interview with Trend.

The minister that the first and foremost step to be made by the responsible institutions in order to advance in the tourism sector is to revisit and if needed to review the existing agreement on cooperation and ensure its implementation by concrete practical measures.

"Nevertheless, we also have to recognize that while tourist exchanges between our countries have increased during the last two years, there are a lot of new opportunities and plenty of common work needs to be done in this regard," the minister said. " According to the experts, and we agree with them on this, among other joint activities in this respect we should also include exchange of information and best practices in the tourism field between governmental and private tourist agencies, active promotion of the national cultural, historical, natural and touristic sites, organizing reciprocal visits of specialized missions for representatives of tourism agencies and mass media in two countries."

Ulianovschi stressed that for many reasons, and especially from the political, cultural and economic points of view, tourism has always been a very important sector for Azerbaijan and Moldova.

"It is our pleasure to acknowledge significant progress achieved in recent years by the Republic of Azerbaijan in its development by building excellent infrastructure, organizing plenty of major international forums and sport events in the capital and other important cities and regions of the country, as well as by finding the best solutions for better exhibiting the richest historical, natural, cultural and architectural sites of Azerbaijan to foreign visitors. The Republic of Moldova has also taken important steps in order to create all the necessary conditions and incentives for the development of tourism and for the increase of attractiveness of the country for foreign tourists. And we can assure you that Moldova has a lot to show to foreign tourists, including to those from Azerbaijan," the minister said.

The current agreement between Azerbaijan and Moldova on cooperation in the tourism sector was signed in May 2004.

Azerbaijan discloses priority markets for fruits, vegetables exports

Russia and the CIS countries are currently the priority markets for the export of Azerbaijani fruit and vegetable products, Bashir Guliyev, chairman of Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association of Azerbaijan, told Trend.

"As of today, the Russian market is the main export direction for us. Azerbaijan also exports to CIS countries, mainly to those located north of our country. As for Europe, then currently there is very strong competition in this area. The North European market is provided by the countries of North Africa and Southern Europe. Consumption in the Nordic countries does not exceed the volume of supplies today," Guliyev said.

Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association of Azerbaijan was established in August 2016.

The main goal of the Association is to coordinate the activities of local entrepreneurs engaged in this field, increase production and boost export opportunities.

According to Azerbaijan's State Customs Committee, Azerbaijan exported fruit and vegetable products worth about $503 million in 2017.

Azerbaijan reveals priorities for establishing trade and investment cooperation with Saudi Arabia

Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Shahin Abdullayev said that Baku is seeking to establish partnerships with Saudi Arabia in the fields of satellites technology, petrochemicals, oil, gas, agriculture and tourism.

"We launched two satellites and we reached advanced levels in this sector. We aim to be among the top producers of satellite parts," Abdullayev told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said that political ties with Saudi Arabia are excellent and have contributed to economic, trade and investment cooperation in several fields.

He added that Azerbaijan is ready to export agricultural products such as wheat, vegetables and fruits, as well as some industrial products to the Kingdom.

Azerbaijan has imported huge quantities of Saudi petrochemicals in the past years, he said.

He also noted that the tourism sector in Azerbaijan is considered among the significant investment and economic sectors, lauding that 35,000 tourists from Saudi Arabia visited Azerbaijan last year.

He noted that Baku wants to increase trade exchange and investment cooperation, which recorded $17 million last year, adding that Azerbaijan government will offer privileges to investors and exemptions from taxes.

Abdullayev discussed with Council of Saudi Chambers Chairman Ahmed al-Rajhi possible ways to foster trade and investment cooperation.

Rajhi asserted that the Saudi business sector is interested in exploring investment opportunities in Azerbaijan.

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