TODAY.AZ / Business

Saudi Arabian firms investment nears $370 million in Azerbaijan

11 December 2013 [16:15] - TODAY.AZ
By AzerNews

Azerbaijani and Saudi Arabian businessmen came together for a joint business forum in Baku on December 10.

The forum aimed at exploring new areas of cooperation.

Head of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority Abdullatif Al Othman and Azerbaijani Minister of Economy and Industry Shahin Mustafayev, as well as the government representatives and heads of leading companies from both countries attended the event.

Addressing the forum, Al Othman said Saudi Arabia is ready to invest in Azerbaijan's petrochemical and refining industry.

He also said that Azerbaijan is an economically developed country and there is high potential for the expansion of cooperation in many spheres including tourism and socially oriented projects.

Al Othman further said that all the sectors of Azerbaijan's economy are attractive for Saudi entrepreneurs and stressed that holding such business forums greatly contribute to the expansion of bilateral relations.

"Our delegation includes representatives of both the public and private sectors. We should not confine ourselves only to economic relations. Today we are bound by ties in the sphere of religion, education and many others. Therefore we also intend to develop relations in the social sphere," Al Othman said.

The Saudi official also said that the two countries' trade turnover is currently not so high. However, he believes that Saudi Arabia is determined to bring the figure to the level of the potential of the two countries.

Azerbaijani Minister of Economy and Industry Mustafayev, for his part, said that Baku and Riyadh plan to sign an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation on income and property, and tax evasion.

Mustafayev said the two sides have agreed on the details and the documents are ready to be signed.

"Today, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia are closely cooperating in international organizations. Trade relations play an important role in the development of bilateral relations between the two countries," Mustafayev said, adding that the bilateral trade of Baku and Riyadh has been on the rise in the first 10 months of 2013.

He said that six companies from Saudi Arabia carry out investment activities in Azerbaijan in the insurance, banking, industry, and services sectors.

The Azerbaijani official also said the total volume of investments made by these companies in Azerbaijan's economy amounts to $368 million.

"Currently there is a great potential for expansion of relations in the sphere of trade and investments, and the business forum held in Baku creates a good opportunity for materializing the goal," Mustafayev said.

He said the intergovernmental commission plays an important role in the development of bilateral relations.

The official also added that during the third meeting of the intergovernmental commission to be held on December 11 in Baku, the two sides are expected to sign a protocol that envisages the development of cooperation in the spheres of economy, trade, energy, banking , agriculture, tourism, construction, and healthcare.

Mustafayev also said that the total volume of investments in Azerbaijan's economy exceeds $156 billion.

He said around a half of the investments are made by foreign countries.

Mustafayev went on to say that the private sector's share in Azerbaijan's GDP is 85 percent. He also said in general, Azerbaijan's GDP has increased 3.4 times, while GDP per capita has grown threefold in the last 10 years.

He also said the state budget revenues for the mentioned period have increased by 19 times and the foreign trade turnover has increased nine-fold in the past decade.

"The poverty level declined eight times, reaching 5.5 percent in the past 10 years," the minister said.

"Currently Azerbaijan's economy accounts for more than 70 percent of the entire economy of the South Caucasus," he said.

"The country continues diversifying the economy and the bulk of the gross domestic product is generated in the non-oil sector," Mustafayev said.

He also said the country's external debt is only 8.3 percent of the GDP, while strategic currency reserves exceed an external debt up to ten times.

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