Azerbaijan-France business forum held
Azerbaijan-France business forum was held at Baku Business Centre on July 11 with the support of the Ministry of Economy, organized by the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) and the French Business Federation (MEDEF). Along with the Azerbaijani and French officials, more than 150 entrepreneurs operating in the field of agriculture, construction, transport, logistics, ICT, energy, finance, education, tourism, trade, environment, consulting and in other areas attended the event.
Making a speech at the event, Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev stressed development of the Azerbaijani-French relations, the reception by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva of representatives of the French Business Federation - MEDEF Member Companies, who are on a visit to our country, as an indicator of the great importance attached to the relations between the countries.
Briefing on the trade relations, one of the main directions of Azerbaijani-French economic cooperation, the Minister of Economy said that Azerbaijan is the main trade partner of France in the South Caucasus region. It is not accidental that in 2018 year, 62.4% of France's total turnover with three South Caucasian countries accounted for Azerbaijan. Trade turnover between the two countries increased by more than 53% in the first five months of 2019 compared to the same period last year. The Minister noted that there is a great potential for further increase of the volume of mutual trade, diversification of the structure, and expansion of export of non-oil products to France. 45 French capital companies operate in Azerbaijan in the fields of industry, service, communication, trade, banking and insurance and agriculture. French companies have been involved in the projects realized in Azerbaijan worth $ 6.2 billion as Contractors.
Mentioning successful cooperation in the field of investment, Minister Shahin Mustafayev added that Azerbaijan invested $ 2.6 billion in France, and France invested more than $ 2.2 billion in the economy of Azerbaijan.
Along with economic cooperation with France, Shahin Mustafayev also highlighted humanitarian cooperation and stressed successful activity of Heydar Aliyev Foundation in this direction.
Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev provided information about the reforms carried out in Azerbaijan, gained achievements, the broad transit potential of our country and the regional projects implemented. It was noted that the successes of Azerbaijan are highly appreciated by international financial institutions. Thus, in the World Bank's Doing Business 2019 report, Azerbaijan ranked 25th among 190 countries, improving its position by 32 steps and included in the list of the top-10 reformers. It was pointed out that in the 2019 edition of the EU Business Climate Report Azerbaijan, 74% of EU businesses assess the current macroeconomic situation as satisfactory/strong, while 90% consider the prospects of the macroeconomic situation as better and stable. 75% of the companies surveyed in EU’s this year’s “Azerbaijan as an investment location” stated their confidence when asked if they would invest in Azerbaijan again and highly appreciated security, political and social stability in our country.
Minister Shahin Mustafayev noted broad cooperation opportunities between the two countries in many spheres of economy, including trade and investments, small and medium-sized businesses, energy, transport, agriculture, industry, education, tourism, ICT, financial spheres and invited French businessmen to take advantage of these opportunities.
Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, President of the French Business Federation - MEDEF Business Council noted that his country attaches great importance to the development of relations with Azerbaijan and underlined the favourable business climate in Azerbaijan and expressed his satisfaction with its position in Doing Business 2019 report. Noting that the current business forum is an effective platform for the development of relations, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux stressed the country's attractive tourism potential, as well as a number of competitive products, in particular, underlined the country as a high-quality wine producer and shared his views on expanding economic cooperation.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Azerbaijan Aurélia Bouchez said that her country is interested in expanding cooperation with Azerbaijan. The ambassador said that the economic reforms in Azerbaijan created favourable opportunities for foreign companies, including French companies.
Then, Acting Head of AZPROMO Yusif Abdullayev made a presentation on the business and investment climate in Azerbaijan.
Business forum continued with bilateral meetings between businessmen, discussions hold on extending cooperation and establishing new relations.