Azerbaijan-Czech business relations to develop

By: Nigar Orujova

Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic are interested in developing mutual relations in agriculture, industry, oil and gas sectors. The ample opportunities for both countries were discussed at the Azerbaijani-Czech business forum in Baku on March 3.

Some 32 Czech companies and banks as well as more than 150 businessmen from both sides were taking part in the business forum within the framework of visit of the Czech delegation led by Industry and Trade Minister, Jan Mladek.

Currently, the Czech Republic mainly imports Azerbaijani oil, while industrial equipment and consumer goods are exported to Azerbaijan.

“Azerbaijan is interested in establishing joint ventures on the export of agricultural products with the Czech Republic,” said Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijan’s Economy and Industry Minister, at the event.

Mustafayev said the cooperation between the two countries is possible, using the Czech equipment for the food industry and the opportunities offered by the Azerbaijani agriculture.

“Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic have a good potential for the development of cooperation in economy, primarily in the industrial sphere,” he said.

“The Czech Republic has invested over $1 billion in Azerbaijan. At present, six major projects implemented in Azerbaijan are funded by Czech companies. Their total value stands at about $2 billion.”

The minister noted that it is very important that cooperation would not be limited only to Azerbaijan.

“The level of Azerbaijani companies allows them to work in European countries, including the Czech Republic,” Mustafayev said. “I think that our companies have every opportunity to strengthen their activities in the Czech Republic.”

He brought up the experience of an Azerbaijani company dealing with road construction in Serbia as an example of the work of Azerbaijani companies in Europe. The company does not lag behind local companies in Serbia and it actually largely outruns them in terms of quality.

The minister also noted that the two countries can expand cooperation in tourism, ICT and other areas.

Consequently, Jan Mladek expressed his satisfaction with the economic development of Azerbaijan, adding that Czech companies successfully operate in the country.

Talking about the interests of the Czech Republic in purchasing Azerbaijani gas, he added that in this regard, the project for construction of the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline is very important.

The trade turnover between the two countries increased by 23 percent in 2014 up to 1.5 billion euros.

The Czech banks have provided the country with loans worth $1.5 billion over the past decade, he noted.

Furthermore, Mladek said that taking into account the failure of Nabucco and South Stream projects and the fact that the implementation of the Turkish Stream project will take quite some time, TANAP currently represents the most real project in this sphere.

Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority energy projects for EU. This project envisages the delivery of gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas and condensate field to Europe.

Addressing the journalists in Baku, Mladek said his country is interested in importing Azerbaijani oil.

“One third of the oil delivered to the Czech Republic is produced in Azerbaijan, while the remaining part accounts for Russia,” said the minister.

“Import of Azerbaijani oil is very important for us, since we don’t want to be dependent on one source and one supply route,” he added.

Moreover, Mladek said that the Czech Republic is ready to further develop and finance the joint projects with Azerbaijan. In particular, the Czech companies are ready to take part in the construction of metro stations in Baku.

“While many countries are undergoing unstable economic situation, Azerbaijan remains a stable country and offers good opportunities for business development,” he said.

He added that in general, there are great prospects for the development of Azerbaijani-Czech relations in various spheres. “Czech companies are interested in developing the cooperation in many fields, for instance in the spheres of energy and agriculture.”

The Czech Republic does not export agricultural products, however, it supplies equipment for agriculture and food industry to other countries, the minister added.

Moreover, some Czech companies would like to deliver coaches, locomotives to Azerbaijan and take part in the road construction in this country, Mladek added.

President Aliyev receives Czech delegation

The Czech delegation was also received by President Ilham Aliyev on March 3.

The parties highlighted the successfully developing bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic in political, economic and other fields. It was noted that these relations paved the way for mutual investment making, and that there were good prospects for cooperation in energy field.

The sides also exchanged views over the prospects of cooperation in economic area.

SOURCE: Azer News