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U.S. Calls for Strong Economic Ties with Azerbaijan

The U.S. State Department has voiced the necessity to strengthen the economic ties between Baku and Washington.

"We discussed the issues related to trade, finances, agriculture, combating corruption," Kurt Tong, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the Department of State told journalists in Baku on April 15. "My role is to strengthen the economy cooperation between Azerbaijan and the U.S."

Kurt said that the U.S. believes it would be a very great idea for Azerbaijan to complete its accession for the WTO.

"This will create more opportunities for Azerbaijan in trade and investment," he noted adding that Baku's WTO accession will also create additional opportunities for strengthening the country's economic relations with other countries in trade.

Tong was in Baku on April 14-15 to discuss U.S. government assistance with Azerbaijan's economic growth and how it can be improved. The program of Tong's two-day visit to Baku included the U.S. State Department's global economic diplomacy efforts, prospective cooperation with Azerbaijan in trade, finance, telecommunications, transportation and commercial areas.

Azerbaijan has had an observer status at the WTO since 1997. A working group on Azerbaijan was established at the WTO Secretariat on July 16, 1997.

Azerbaijan started negotiations with the WTO member countries in 2004. Currently, the country is negotiating with 19 countries. Russia, which formally expressed a desire to start negotiations with Azerbaijan, was the last one to join the organization, but no offers have been received from this country yet.

Negotiations have been finalized and the protocols signed with Turkey, the Sultanate of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. The country is at the stage of signing the protocol with China and Moldova.

Tong went on to add that Azerbaijan wants to change its economy into the developed one not being dependent on resources. He hailed the importance of Baku Port in the development of economy.

"The role of the Baku Port is of pivotal importance," the State Department representative said. "But we should not forget that in order to increase the role of the port the economy of the states located on the shores of the Caspian Sea should be developed. And this is an issue that depends on the development of markets that exist inside of them. When the markets in various countries develop, a number of goods also increase and it contributes to the port's important role."

The construction of the Baku International Sea Trade Port began in November 2010.

The funds directed to the implementation of all three phases of the port construction are expected to hit 870 million manats ($573.61 million).

The estimated transshipment volume for the new port complex is up to 10 million tons of cargo and 40,000 TEU containers at the first stage, up to 17 million tons of cargo and 150,000 TEU containers at the second stage, and up to 25 million tons of cargo, and 1 million TEU containers at the third stage of the project.

Azerbaijan and the U.S. established diplomatic relations in 1992. Today the two countries enjoy close ties - active political dialogue and economic cooperation. To date, the U.S. companies have invested more than $10 billion in Azerbaijan's economy.

Source: Azernews

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