By Seba Aghayeva – Trend:
Azerbaijan and Germany have been implementing mutually beneficial, equal and fruitful cooperation for a long time, and the political dialogue between the two countries has been established at the highest level, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Federal Republic of Germany Ramin Hasanov said in an interview with Trend.
He added that economic relations between Germany and Azerbaijan are developing at an accelerated pace, and this is one of the main priorities.
"Both countries are interested in deepening the existing relations, as well as in raising them to a higher level, especially, given the fact that there is great potential for this," the diplomat said.
"There are many areas for cooperation: agriculture, transport, logistics, tourism, the study of best practices in the field of innovative technologies, etc.," the Ambassador said. "German experience and technology are highly valued in Azerbaijan. Deepening cooperation for the use of this potential is the most important area of bilateral relations."
"We are also interested in attracting German investors to various sectors of Azerbaijan’s economy," Hasanov said.
He particularly noted the potential of cooperation between the two countries in the sphere of tourism.
"One of the challenges facing Azerbaijan currently is the development of tourism in the country at the international level," Hasanov said. "There are direct flights between Baku and several German cities. Rich history, cultural diversity of Azerbaijan, its beautiful and diverse nature, historical monuments, Baku’s architecture (which is successfully developing and being enriched) – all of these factors can attract German tourists to Azerbaijan, who, as well known, are amongst the most travelling nations in the world. Thus, acquainting Germany with our huge tourism opportunities is one of the main directions of our work here,"-said Hasanov.
According to him, in 2016, about 13,000 German tourists visited Azerbaijan and this year the tourist inflow is expected to grow up to 14,500 people.
"At the same time, Azerbaijan’s potential in such areas as countryside tourism, ecotourism and health tourism, can also cause great interest among German tourists," the diplomat said.
As for the trade relations between the two countries, the Ambassador mentioned that this sphere is one of the most dynamic in our cooperation.
"In 2016, the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to about two billion euros," he said. "Azerbaijan’s trade turnover with Germany in January-June 2017 amounted to 715 million euros, 577 million euros of which accounted for the exports to Germany."
"The main share of Azerbaijani exports accounts for oil and oil products," he noted. "Azerbaijan is in the fifth place among the countries that supply oil to Germany. Azerbaijan also considers Germany as a strategic market for the export of non-oil, in particular agricultural and industrial products. In turn, Azerbaijan imports pharmaceutical products, building materials, chemical products, equipment."
"In general, Azerbaijan is Germany’s most important economic and trading partner in the South Caucasus," Hasanov said. "According to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Azerbaijan’s share in Germany’s trade turnover with the countries of the South Caucasus was around 70 percent in the first half of 2017."
"Despite this fact, both countries continue working on the expansion of the trade relations", he noted.
"One of the activities of Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Germany is to assist businessmen of the two countries in forging partnerships," he said. "To this end, the diplomatic mission assists Azerbaijani entrepreneurs in participation in the specialized exhibitions in Germany, demonstration of their products and promotion of the "Made in Azerbaijan" brand."
According to the diplomat, about 170 German companies operate in Azerbaijan. There is the German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce in Baku.
"The opening of the second (among the CIS countries, after Moscow) official chamber of commerce in Baku is an indicator of the dynamic development in the economic relations between the two countries and the manifestation of Germany’s great economic interest in Azerbaijan," the Ambassador said.
"Over the past 20 years, German companies have invested about $500 million in the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan," he said.
The Ambassador also noted the potential of cooperation with Germany for Azerbaijani investors and entrepreneurs.
"For Azerbaijani investors, such areas of the German economy as construction of tourism facilities, in particular hotels, restaurants, etc. may be attractive," he added. "The German market can also be attractive for Azerbaijan’s agricultural producers."
"Prospects for economic cooperation and specific projects are being considered within the framework of the meetings of the Azerbaijani-German intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation," the Aambassador said.
"The last meeting of the intergovernmental commission took place last year in Baku, and, according to the rotation, the next meeting will be held in Berlin in November of 2017," he noted. "Now the agenda of the meeting is being considered."
According to the diplomat, fairly solid legal framework, covering all spheres of cooperation, has been established between the two countries.
"Taking into consideration that such a framework requires regular updating and improvement, the work on it is being constantly carried out," Hasanov said. "Currently, a number of new draft agreements are being considered."