Ankara keen on raising trade turnover with Baku

By: Sara Rajabova

Azerbaijani-Turkish economic relations, as well as the energy projects with participation of Baku and Ankara were discussed during the Turkish top official’s visit to Azerbaijan.

Following meetings with Azerbaijani officials and businessmen, Nihat Zeybekci, Turkey’s Economy Minister spoke about the economic ties between Azerbaijani and Turkey at a press conference in Baku on February 5.

Turkey offered to free delivery of agricultural products exported to Azerbaijan from payment of customs duty.

Zeybekchi said Ankara is interested in raising the trade turnover with Baku up to $15 billion.

“Turkey has an agreement with the EU Customs Union, but it includes products of light industry. We have already proposed the EU signing of the corresponding agreement on agricultural commodities. Along with this, we are also ready to sign an agreement for the release of the supply of agricultural products also to Azerbaijan,” said Zeybekchi.

At the same time, he added that if signed the agreement will affect sampling prices.

The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Turkey at the end of 2014 amounted to $ 1,789 billion, while imports from Turkey to Azerbaijan was $ 1.3 billion and the exports to Turkey was 502.49 million, according to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan.

Turkish Stream no alternative to TANAP

Turkish Stream can never been viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline, Zeybekci said.

He said these two projects differ from each other and will allow Turkey to strengthen its role in the region.

“Although it is believed that the implementation of the Turkish Stream project is still doubted, this project is very serious for Turkey,” said Zeybekci.

TANAP, developed by SOCAR in collaboration with Turkish Botas and the energy company TPAO, will deliver Shah Deniz gas to the Turkish-Greek border from eastern Turkey.

The initial capacity of the pipeline will be 16 billion cubic meters of gas a year. TANAP will link up with Trans-Adriatic (TAP) pipeline on the Turkish-Greek border.

All these projects are the components of the Southern Gas Corridor. The Southern Gas Corridor will allow Europe to diversify its hydrocarbon supply sources and strengthen energy security and also will allow Azerbaijan to obtain a new market in Europe.

BTK impact region’s economic view

Zeybekci further said the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway construction project will have a significant impact on the economic situation in the region.

“Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia attach great importance to this project as it is one of the most important one in the region designed to be a transport corridor between Europe and Asia,” he said.

Zeybekci also said Tbilisi will host a trilateral meeting of Azerbaijani, Turkish and Georgian economic ministers on March 6, and a trilateral meeting with representatives of Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey is expected to be held in Tabriz in the near future.

Afterwards, the meeting will be held in the quadripartite format (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey), he said adding the venue and time of the next meetings are being specified.

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is being constructed on the basis of the Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement.

The peak capacity of the corridor will be 17 million metric tons of cargo per year. At the initial stage, this figure will be equal to one million passengers and 6.5 million metric tons of cargo. The railway is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2015.