The Ambassador of Azerbaijan, Ali Alizada, said that his country was keen to further promote bilateral trade with Pakistan, as both countries have tremendous potential in many areas to boost trade and economic cooperation. He said that Azerbaijan and Pakistan enjoyed excellent political ties, but they were not balanced by trade and economic relations, so there was a clear need to concentrate on fostering trade relations that would be of great benefit to both countries’ economies. During his visit to the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, he addressed the business community (ICCI).
Ali Alizada said that the people of Azerbaijan are very fond of Pakistan and feel relaxed doing business with it, so Pakistan should consider extending trade cooperation with it seriously. He said that Azerbaijan had signed free trade agreements with 10 countries in the region, including Russia, so Pakistani investors could promote exports to all of these regional countries by investing in and increasing trade cooperation with Azerbaijan. He said that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused trade activity between the two countries to slow down, but bilateral trade was expected to receive a boost after the coronavirus was over. He said that soon after the end of Covid-19, Azerbaijan was involved in establishing railway ties and direct flights to Pakistan. As potential areas of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Pakistan, he described agriculture, industry, tourism, mining, hospitality and defense.
The envoy said that in his region, Pakistani pharmaceutical companies have enormous potential and should set up manufacturing plants in Azerbaijan. He said Azerbaijan was setting up a free economic zone next to the Baku port, and Pakistani investors were expected to explore JVs and invest in the facility. He said an online business forum between the two nations was scheduled in March and said it should be attended by the Pakistani business community to discuss business cooperation with Azerbaijan’s counterparts. He said that the ICCI was expected to take a delegation to Azerbaijan to explore its market and to cooperate with the right partners in his region.
Speaking on the occasion, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Azerbaijan of approximately US$ 16-17 million was very nominal, given the real potential of both countries and the need for more serious efforts by both sides to boost it. He said that in Azerbaijan, many high quality Pakistani products, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, surgical equipment, sports goods, cutlery, electrical appliances, textile and leather goods, furniture, home-made crafts, food and fruit products, engineering and consumer goods, rice, and imports of these products from Pakistan should be increased.
According to Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, Pakistan has set up several special economic zones under the CPEC, offering a 10-year tax holiday, so Azerbaijani businessmen can explore opportunities for JVs and investments in these SEZs to further enhance bilateral business cooperation between the two countries. He said that Azerbaijan was very rich in energy and that Pakistan could also be helpful in this field. He assured that in March 2021, ICCI will attempt to take a business delegation to Azerbaijan to explore business cooperation with Azerbaijan’s counterparts and examine the market potential for Pakistani goods. He said the delegation would also communicate with Azerbaijani investors and inform them of the possible business opportunities available to them in different sectors of the economy of Pakistan.
Senior Vice President Fatma Azim, ICCI Vice President Abdul Rehman Khan, Aslam Khokhar and others also spoke on the occasion, stressing that measures should be taken to bridge the gap between the two countries’ private sectors in order to increase two-way trade to the real potential of both countries.