TODAY.AZ / Business

Harnessing regional potential: Baku business forum faces the future with optimism

15 June 2006 [13:32] - TODAY.AZ
Economically the Black Sea region is the fastest growing region in the world after East Asia and has a lot of prospects lying ahead: this was the main message of the June 12 business conference in Baku.

Organized by the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) the Black Sea Business Day was an opportunity for interested companies, investors and bankers to discuss investment projects in Azerbaijan and other countries in Black Sea region and to look for partners.

Discussions focused on the role of the financial sector in economic development and the investment opportunities in agribusiness and food processing as well as on regional infrastructure development.

Speaking at the session the economic advisor to the President of Azerbaijan, Vahid Akhundov, noted regional economic cooperation is very important. "Mutual beneficial business tasks are important for the development of the region," he said.

Azerbaijan's Minister of Economic Development Heydar Babayev spoke of his country's economic accomplishments. He said last year Azerbaijan registered the highest economic growth rates in the world and that the growth is expected to be even higher in 2006.

"The GDP in Azerbaijan has tripled in nine years, and we plan to double it in the next three years," he said.

Babayev noted that 2005 was the year during which many positive economic trends happened in the region despite the fact that prices on energy carriers rose.

The minister also pointed out that Azerbaijan is part of the corridor between the Central Asia and Europe and therefore plays a key role in transporting gas and electricity from the Caspian basin countries to Europe.

Azerbaijan is involved in several important regional projects including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway projects as well as the TRACECA Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor project.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was fully commissioned a few days ago and the Baku-Tbilisii-Erzerum gas pipeline is set to start operating shortly in future.

BSTDB President Hayrettin Kaplan also expressed his belief that Azerbaijan possesses the right conditions to enhance regional business development as well as plays an important role in regional cooperation.

He explained why one of the conference's sessions was devoted to agribusiness and food procession saying "agriculture is the main attraction of investments in the region."

The speaker from the Georgian delegation, the executive director of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Giorgi Kakabadze presented his view of why Georgia is attractive for foreign investments, pointing to Georgia's GDP growth of 9 percent over the past three years.

Kakabadze also noted that Georgia has been experiencing a rapid growth in its IT, communications, and banking sectors, and pointed to the country's potential for agribusiness and tourism.

Further signifying the importance of the event, and in an attempt to forge new partnerships, the BSTDB signed three loan agreements with three Azeri commercial banks. Kapital Bank will receive a USD 4 million short-term loan, and two other banks - Azerdemiryolbank and Technikabank - will get loans of USD 2 million each.

By Christina Tashkevich



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