Azerbaijan offers Austrian firms joint access to regional markets

By: Aynur Karimova

Azerbaijan has proposed Austrian companies to consider opportunities for joint access to regional markets.

“Azerbaijan can play its role as regional hub and we are committed to this goal,” Elmir Velizade, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Minister of Communications and High Technologies said at the Azerbaijani-Austrian business forum in Baku on June 3.

The deputy minister also noted that today, cooperation in the field of information and communication technologies remains the main axis of cooperation in between the two countries.

“The development of Azerbaijan’s ICT sector continues at a rapid pace and it increases the interest of large European companies in the country,” Velizade said, adding that cooperation with Austria in this and other sectors is very important for Azerbaijan.

“We are interested in increasing Austrian investments, as well as expanding the number of Austrian companies in Azerbaijan. It is also important to consider the possibilities of joint access of Austrian and Azerbaijani companies to countries in the region,” he stressed.

In her remarks, Deputy Minister of Science, Research and Economy of Austrian on Economic Policy and European Integration, Bernadette Gerlinger said her country is interested in increasing its trade turnover with Azerbaijan.

“In the past few years the trade turnover between our countries has been developing increasingly. Despite the fact that in 2014 there was a decrease of export by 1.8 percent and import by 18.6 percent, a growth was again recorded in 2015. Import of goods from Azerbaijan has increased by 37 percent, but it should be noted that almost 99 percent of import is oil and oil products,” she noted.

Gerlinger also noted that expansion of relations with such a developed market like Azerbaijan is very important for Austria. The main directions of cooperation between the two countries are ICT, energy and alternative energy resources, as well as tourism and agricultural sectors.

“We have already determined a number of projects in the ICT sector, and we will discuss them at the meeting of the joint working group. It is planned that we will sign agreements and memorandums in the future. We also hope that in the near future, agreements will be signed in the agricultural, aviation and financial sectors,” she noted.

Gerlinger also revealed the existence of plans to increase the number of Austrian companies in Azerbaijan.

“Today several Austrian companies are operating in Azerbaijan, but it would be better to increase their number and to open up new perspectives for them,” she added.

On June 2, co-chairs of the Azerbaijani-Austrian intergovernmental commission on cooperation in economic, agricultural, industrial, technical and technological sectors held a bilateral meeting.

Speaking at the meeting co-chair of the commission from the Azerbaijani side, Minister of Communications and High Technologies, Ali Abbasov said the two countries enjoy great prospects for cooperation in various fields.

Gerlinger, co-chair of the commission from the Austrian side, made a general presentation about the economic situation in Austria. She noted that her country gives preference to the development of the export economy.

During the meeting the sides also discussed the state of cooperation in the economic, agricultural, industrial, technical and technological fields, as well as prospects for expanding bilateral ties.

Later, the co-chairs signed a protocol on the results of the 8th meeting of the intergovernmental commission.

Diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Austria were established in February, 1992.

The trade turnover between them amounted to $434.3 million in 2014. In January-April 2015, this figure stood at $203.4 million, which is 27.76 percent more compared to the same period in 2014.