By Amina Nazarli
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a high-level delegation from Azerbaijan, which was led by Deputy Minister of Economy Sahil Babayev, at its head office on April 19.
The visiting delegation, which included 28 representatives from the country’s public and private sectors, was received by Majid Al Shamsi, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Chamber, and Mohammed Al Shehhi, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs for the UAE Ministry of Economy.
Delegates met with Al Shamsi, Al Shehhi, and a group of UAE-based businessmen representing some of the country’s leading food and retail companies to discuss the potential to expand trade ties and increase bilateral investment.
Al Shamsi highlighted the unique trade relationship between Azerbaijan and the UAE, which has strengthened in recent years supported by high-level visits from both sides.
He explained that Dubai-Azerbaijan non-oil trade has grown considerably following the opening of Dubai Chamber’s first representative office in Baku in 2012, and revealed that the number of Azerbaijani companies registered with the Chamber has recently exceeded 230.
Dubai Chamber’s Vice Chairman noted that non-oil trade between Dubai and Azerbaijan amounted to AED 808 million ($220 million) last year, adding that the emirate has become a major re-export hub and a logical base for traders from Central Asia to reach major consumer markets in the Middle East and Africa.
Al Shehhi highlighted the fact that economic cooperation, trade and investment have contributed greatly to strengthening relations between the UAE and Azerbaijan. He revealed that non-oil bilateral trade exceeded $600 million in 2015 including free zones, and said that there is still plenty of scope to further develop relations and align economic cooperation with the ambitions of both countries.
For his part, Babayev thanked the UAE Ministry of Economy and Dubai Chamber for their support, and said that Azerbaijan’s government remains committed to exploring all existing possibilities to increase bilateral trade and promote mutual cooperation.
Babayev revealed that Azerbaijan investments in the UAE have been valued at $300 million, while the number of UAE companies operating in Azerbaijan has reached 255.
He stated that a lot of potential exists to expand the scope of investments, adding that Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Economy is evaluating prospects for expanding linkages in key sectors.
“We are ready to cooperate with the UAE and create new joint ventures in the areas of industry, logistics, and transport, while we also hope to attract UAE businesses that want to set up in Azerbaijan,” said Babayev.
The deputy minister explained that Azerbaijan is an ideal market for foreign investors and businesses as the country enjoys political and economic stability, while it offers plenty of attractive incentives, such as cheap labor costs, a skilled labor force, and easy access to key surrounding markets including Georgia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.