Last week review (April 2-6)

President Aliyev attends Non-Aligned Movement Mid-Term Ministerial Conference in Baku

Mid-Term Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), titled "Promoting international peace and security for sustainable development", has kicked off in Baku April 5.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the event.

Firstly, a joint photo was taken.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, whiсh chairs the Non-Aligned Movement, Jorge Arreaza Montserrat noted the support of the President of his country, Nicolas Maduro, for the activities of the Non-Aligned Movement, and conveyed his greetings to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and participants of the conference.

At the opening, the memory of the presidents and leaders, who died after the previous summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was held in the Venezuelan city of Margarita, was honored with a minute of silence.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made a speech at the opening of the event.

New solar power plants may appear in Azerbaijan

Two new solar power plants are planned to be commissioned in Azerbaijan in the near future, Nizami Asgarov, chief technologist of Azerbaijan's Azguntex company, told Trend April 3.

The power plants will operate on solar panels manufactured by the company, he added.

"The power plant in Baku's Sahil settlement is fully ready for operation," he said. "It is only left to connect solar generating facilities to the common electricity grid. After the start of its operation, it is also planned to commission a similar solar power plant in Sumgait city, where the work has almost been completed."

Presently, solar power plants in Azerbaijan operate in the cities of Gobustan and Samukh, the Baku settlements of Pirallahi and Surakhani, he noted.

"For example, the solar power plant in Gobustan almost completely meets the city's needs in electricity," he said. "The task is to increase the number of such power plants and make full use of alternative energy opportunities."

Azguntex plant was opened in April 2012. The lifespan of solar panels is 30-40 years.

Azerbaijani investors may be interested in Bulgaria’s tourism sector – minister

Azerbaijan entrepreneurs may be interested in making investments in Bulgaria's tourism sector, Tourism Minister of Bulgaria Nikolina Angelkova said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

"Bulgaria is becoming an increasingly attractive destination not only for tourists but also for entrepreneurs. Our ambition is for the Ministry of Tourism to become a one-stop shop for large investors in the sector, to encourage them and to focus administrative procedures in one place," said the minister.

Angelkova noted that Bulgaria has created flexible conditions and a lot of incentives for successful implementation of serious business ventures.

"We, together with the municipalities, prepared a Map of investment projects in tourism in Bulgaria, including more than 30 sites from different parts of the country, following an invitation to all regions to participate in it. These are mostly ideas for renovation of parks and urban environment, swimming and SPA complexes, exposition and cultural centers, ski facilities, tourist infrastructure and others. The selection is open and can be complemented by new proposals," said the minister.

She went on to add that the Map is published not only in a separate brochure in several languages but also on the Ministry of Tourism website.

"We promote it in any appropriate case to potential investors. I am convinced that the realization of the sites will bring economic benefit to both businesses and consumers of tourist services," said the minister.

Bulgaria has its unquestionable advantages as a business and outsourcing destination - 10 percent corporate tax rate and 10 percent personal income tax, political stability, GDP growth of 3.4 percent for 2016 (fifth in the European Union) and second highest ratio of the government debt / GDP within the Community, she noted.

"On average, over the past 5 years, Bulgaria has twice as much increase in tourist trips from abroad as compared to the EU level. These are undoubtedly attractive features of the country and I am sure that the Azerbaijan investors will also be interested in them," added Angelkova.

It is already a fact that world hotel chains start building high-class sites on the Black Sea coast and in the interior of the country because the demand for higher-star hotels grows steadily, said the minister.

President: Azerbaijan plans to take additional steps to further facilitate visa regime with UAE

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received a delegation led by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates Anwar Gargash on April 4.

Minister of State Anwar Gargash extended greetings of President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to President Aliyev.

Stressing the importance of the Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement being held in Baku, Gargash recalled with satisfaction his previous meeting with the Azerbaijani president.

Touching upon bilateral ties between the two countries, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs hailed the visa facilitation for tourists traveling to Azerbaijan, adding that it gives great impetus to increasing the number of UAE tourists visiting the country.

President Aliyev underlined the significance of Gargash`s participation in the Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement being held in Baku.

The Azerbaijani president said that bilateral relations between the two countries are developing successfully, and noted with satisfaction that the number of UAE tourists visiting Azerbaijan are increasing year by year.

Touching upon the work to develop the tourism sphere in Azerbaijan, President Aliyev said that additional steps are expected to be taken for even further visa facilitation.

The Azerbaijani president stressed the importance of UAE tourists' visit not only to Baku, but also regions of the country.

They exchanged views over the issues related to the development of cooperation between the two countries in a variety of fields.

President Aliyev thanked for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan`s greetings, and asked Gargash to extend his greetings to the president of the United Arab Emirates.

President Aliyev receives Jordanian ICT minister

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has today received Mohammad Momani, Minister of Information and Communications Technology of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Momani conveyed greetings and best wishes of King Abdullah II to President Aliyev and the people of Azerbaijan. The guest noted that Jordan has a great respect for leadership of President Aliyev, for Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people.

The minister said that Jordan follows with interest the success achieved by Azerbaijan, and noted that Azerbaijan is an exemplary country that hosts important international events.

Noting that personal friendly relations between the King of Jordan and the President of Azerbaijan play a big role in the bilateral relations of the two countries, Momani said that the King of Jordan gave instructions to develop cooperation with Azerbaijan in both political and economic spheres.

The Jordanian minister, highly appreciating Azerbaijan's holding the Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed gratitude for the invitation to this event.

Expressing gratitude for the kind words, President Aliyev stressed that personal friendship with King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein contributed to the development of the relations between the two countries.

The head of state said that Jordan is a friendly country for Azerbaijan, and noted that the two countries have good relations in the political sphere.

President Aliyev further stressed the importance of expanding cooperation in the economic sphere, including increasing the trade turnover and using investment opportunities.

Praising the fact that Azerbaijan has become a venue for important international events, President Ilham Aliyev noted the significance of the Ministerial Conference of the Non-Alignment Movement. The head of state expressed his confidence that Azerbaijan's chairmanship at the NAM in the years to come will see successful cooperation on the issues that interest both countries.

President Aliyev thanked for King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein`s greetings, and asked the minister to extend his greetings to the King of Jordan.

Baku may become major hub between Asia, Europe - Chinese envoy

China hopes that Baku will become a major hub between Asia and Europe, Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Wei Jinghua said at the presentation of the equipment handed over to the Baku International Sea Trade Port on April 4.

He stressed that regular mutual visits of the leadership of the two countries and signing of numerous documents determined the development of relations between China and Azerbaijan.

"China pays great attention to Azerbaijan's special advantages in the Eurasian transport hub. Thus, Chinese companies support cooperation with Azerbaijan in the field of transport and logistics. The technology that was transferred to the Port of Baku will further increase Azerbaijan's capacity to receive cargoes and strengthen its role, as a trade and logistics center in the region," the ambassador said.

China hopes that Baku will soon become a major logistics hub on the route from Asia to Europe, he said.

"The Great Silk Road connected our peoples more than 2,000 years ago. After Azerbaijan regained the independence, our historical ties were restored, and now they are being strengthened within the framework of the" One Belt and One Road" project. Both countries support each other on all issues," said the ambassador.

The Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat is expected to become one of the most promising logistics zones throughout the New Silk Road.

The Port in Alat, which will become the largest port on the Caspian Sea, is an important part of Azerbaijan's transport infrastructure. The first phase of construction of the Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat settlement will be completed in May 2018.

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.

China allocated grants worth $70M to Azerbaijan – deputy PM

Over the recent years, the Chinese government has allocated grants worth $70 million to Azerbaijan, the country's Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov said April 4.

More than $60 million in the form of various equipment has already been received by Azerbaijan and the equipment worth $7-8 million will be delivered in the near future, he noted.

"In particular, more than 20 units of various necessary agricultural machinery were transferred to Nakhchivan in late 2017. Meanwhile, Azeravtoyol equipment - bulldozers, excavators, graders and other construction equipment - were supplied for several years and until the end of July 2017. We purchased more than 150 garbage trucks, water trucks, sewer machines, dump trucks, graders thanks to Chinese grants during three years and distributed them to the districts of Azerbaijan. We also ordered a batch of new communal vehicles for fleet renewal next year," Sharifov said.

The deputy prime minister noted that the Cabinet of Ministers is regularly in touch with the relevant Azerbaijani structures in any of the spheres and solves issues on the delivery of equipment in line with their requests.

"We appreciate the wishes and consider the possibility of acquiring this or that equipment with Chinese grants. The fact is that, according to the conditions, we can only purchase Chinese-made equipment, and there are such types of equipment that are not manufactured in China," Sharifov said.

He also noted that a new record indicator was observed in trade turnover between China and Azerbaijan that stood at about $1.2 billion.

China's investments in the Azerbaijani economy amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, and a memorandum of understanding was signed on the SOCAR GPC project in 2017, the cost of which is estimated at $4.5 billion and can be financed by the Chinese side.

According to Azerbaijan's State Customs Committee, trade turnover with China amounted to about 146 million manats in the first two months of 2018.

Baku Int’l Sea Trade Port receives new equipment from China

The Baku International Sea Trade Port has received 34 units of equipment from the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges, Trend's correspondent reported form the event dedicated to the presentation of the equipment on April 4.

The equipment, the total cost of which is about $3.867million, was transferred to the Port of Baku on the basis of an intergovernmental grant agreement signed between China and Azerbaijan.

The equipment includes 16 forklifts with carrying capacity from 1.5 to 20 tons, two 45-ton telescopic container loaders, three 30-ton trailers for tractors, one 220-ton crane and other equipment.

Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Abid Sharifov and Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Wei Jinghua signed the acceptance certificate on new equipment.

The Port in Alat, which will become the largest port on the Caspian Sea, is an important part of Azerbaijan's transport infrastructure. The first phase of construction of the Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat settlement will be completed in May 2018.

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.

Azerbaijan modernizes major ferry

Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company has completed modernization of the "Dagestan" ferry at the Zikh Shipbuilding Plant, the company said in a message April 5.

This is the first such project in the company's history, as the project was developed by the company staff.

"The entire control systems of the ferry boat have been modernized. The two out-of-date auxiliary engines of the ferry were replaced with Hyundai engines. The new 1000 kW engines differ from the dismantled engines for high efficiency and service convenience. Main engines were also replaced with ones ordered from Wartsila in Finland. The new engines reduce fuel consumption to 30 percent," the company said.

New reduction gear simplifies the procedure of starting and preparing the engines for operation, which in turn allows to significantly reduce fuel consumption. Engine management station was also completely modernized, and new equipment was installed to meet the latest technological advances. In addition, the ship's emergency and generator compartments were upgraded. A control and monitoring system was created as in all modern ships, according to the company.

Furthermore, all control systems of the ferry vessel "Dagestan" were replaced with more modern systems. The hull of the ship was thoroughly repaired.

Following completion of the modernization, the "Dagestan" ferry vessel successfully passed the tests.

The vessel is already involved in cargo transportation on the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.

The carrying capacity of the ferry is 2,425 tons. The vessel's length is 154.5 meters and width is 18.3 meters. It has two decks to transport cars and a deck for wagons.

Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company is the only ferry operator in the Caspian Sea. The company's fleet consists of 13 ferries, which are involved in transportation on the Trans-Caspian transport route.

FM Mammadyarov meets foreign and African integration minister of Chad

Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov met with Mahamat Zene Cherif, Foreign and African integration Minister of Chad on the sidelines of the Mid-Term Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku April 6.

Foreign Minister of Chad expressed satisfaction for being in Azerbaijan and appreciated the high level organization of the NAM Ministerial in Baku, according to a message from the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.

The sides recalled humanitarian projects implemented by Azerbaijan International Development Agency in Chad.

The sides also noted the necessity of expanding legal base for development of bilateral relations.

The two ministers also reviewed the cooperation perspectives in the fields of education and science, as well as within the international organizations.

Terms of future drilling at Azerbaijan’s Absheron gas field announced

Plans for future drilling at Azerbaijan's Absheron gas field in the Caspian Sea after completion of the first well are not frozen yet, an informed source in Azerbaijan's oil and gas market told Trend.

The first well should be completed by end Q2-2019, noted the source.

Decisions on next phase will be taken if a profitable project can be agreed between French Total and SOCAR, added the source.

In 2016 Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR and Total signed a framework agreement on the main contractual and commercial principles regulating the program of the first phase development of the Absheron field.

The first phase of the field's development envisages drilling of one well at a sea depth of 470 meters. The production will stand at 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year and these volumes will be used in Azerbaijan's domestic market. It is planned to produce up to 4 billion cubic meters of gas as the second stage.

Absheron's reserves are estimated at 326 billion cubic meters of gas and 108 million tons of condensate, according to the estimations of Total specialists.

The Absheron project will be operated by JOCAP (Joint Operating Company Absheron Petroleum) (50 percent SOCAR, 50 percent Total).

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