Financial markets abroad consider Azerbaijan a reliable partner, the World Bank (WB) Regional Director for the South Caucasus said.
Henry Kerali made the remarks on the sidelines of the Azerbaijan Investment Summit "2020 and Beyond, Accelerating Economic Development: a Look into the Future", held on March 12.
Commenting on Azerbaijan's recent issuance of Eurobonds, Kerali said it means the country is a reliable partner in which financial capital markets can make investments and be able to make a profit.
"The successful issue of the Eurobonds is actually a good indicator, as it means the rest of the world trusts Azerbaijan's economy," he told AzerNews. "So it is a positive step for Azerbaijan, and is the reflection of a good macroeconomic. The country has strong balance of payments driven mostly by its exports, but I also think that the rest of the world believes that Azerbaijan has a good potential to grow, because without that growth, it will not get these investments."
Kerali plans to talk to the government about how the WB's strategy can support the government's vision of 2020.
"It's always a pleasure for me to come to Azerbaijan. We believe that we need several things for Azerbaijan's development. First, it needs to improve what we call "human capital" to make sure that the country has good health systems. Second, Azerbaijan needs to diversify its "physical capital". You have natural resources, but you also need "physical capital", which means your infrastructures -good roads, good power supply, and good water supply- in order to be able to enrich all corners of Azerbaijan.
Last, but not least, Azerbaijan needs strong institutions, meaning government institutions, private sector, and banking sector. They all need to be able to contribute to the growth of the country," he said.
Speaking about the spheres that the WB is involved in, Kerali mentioned Azerbaijan's education and health sector, infrastructure, and agriculture for rural areas.
"We are supporting the education sector; we are trying to strengthen the skills of people coming out of the education system in Azerbaijan, looking at the health sector and studying how to improve the service delivery of hospitals and healthcare systems, and looking at infrastructures. We are financing some roads, railways, and water supply systems, and are also looking at agriculture for rural areas. We are studying how to improve the activity of farmers, small farmers, to produce more and better products for export," he said.
Saying that the bank has not yet concluded the joint economic research program with the government, Kerali added that the WB hopes to be able to conclude it in the next few months, and then start in a small way - from ICT and communication technologies.
Speaking about the country's domestic development, he added that Azerbaijan needs to invest in the rural areas of the country.
"In our opinion, it would be good to try to encourage more investment in the rural areas, and promote the activities that rural population can adopt to increase their income. I think tourism and agriculture are the most important things for Azerbaijan's regional areas," he said.
Touching upon Azerbaijan's participation in such major projects as TAP and TANAP, Kerali said SOFAZ and SOCAR are also investing outside Azerbaijan and making significant progress.
Answering a question about the possibility of changing the bank's strategy in the CIS area amid the last developments in Ukraine, Kerali said the WB will continue to support Ukraine.
"We recently announced a $4 billion support for Ukraine, which will continue. We will support Azerbaijan and Georgia too. So, in the region, we will continue our support away from politics, but give more forecast on the economic development of these countries."
Being a United Nations international financial institution that provides loans to the developing countries for capital programs, the World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group, and a member of the United Nations Development Group.
The Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty. As its Articles of Agreement says, all its decisions must be guided by a commitment to the promotion of foreign investment and international trade and facilitation of capital investment.
The World Bank is one of the most important organizations, cooperating with Azerbaijan which joined the WB in 1992.
Besides providing consultations, finances, and investments, the WB also provides assistance to the state budget and its coordination, and continues to offer proposals regarding strengthening the independent activities of government organizations involved in the exploitation of oil resources.
The investment portfolio of the World Bank in Azerbaijan consists of 17 projects, and it has financed as many as 54 projects worth of over $3 billion since the country joined the bank.