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USACC, BISNIS Held Briefing Entitled “Azerbaijan Beyond Oil and Gas”

The office of BISNIS/U.S. Commercial Service and the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) held a commercial briefing entitled “Azerbaijan Beyond Oil and Gas” on November 30 and hosted Minister of Economic Development of Azerbaijan, Ambassador Vagif Sadigov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Reno L. Harnish III.

Ambassador Harnish focused on the best prospects for U.S. exports and investment outside of oil and gas sector and on some of the steps the Azerbaijani government is taking to diversify the economy and maintain growth and opportunities in the non-energy sectors such as agribusiness, engineering/construction, health care, information technologies, banking/insurance, and others.

The speakers underlined that large business opportunities of Azerbaijan would especially grow after the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline becomes fully operational.  According to official figures Azerbaijan is expected to gain between $73 billion and $143 billion from oil sales, between 2006 and 2024.

“The U.S. is first and foremost a trading nation, and Azerbaijan presents commercial opportunities in a wide range of sectors, from oil and gas to agriculture and telecommunications,” Ambassador Harnish said. “Companies coming to Azerbaijan will find a developing market and an Azerbaijani government interested in attracting more foreign investment to spur development.”

He also spoke about challenges in the business environment, including the rule of law, corruption, and ambiguities in the tax and customs legislations. The speakers assured that both the US Embassy and the Government of Azerbaijan would address these problems and encouraged the businesses to be more proactive.

Minister Babayev informed the US investors about priorities and objectives of the government in 2006.  “Azerbaijan will see an unprecedented growth during the coming years.  The double digit growth that started last year with 10.2% will further grow with a faster pace, reaching 23% this year, and projected 26-28% in the coming years.

“We would like to cooperate closely with US companies,” said Mr. Babayev. “With technological advances and management know-how, the US companies are poised as attractive partners.”

Ambassador Sadigov provided the audience with a general background to Azerbaijan, its foreign policy, and strategic partnership with the United States. 

The speakers visited Washington, DC to attend the bi-annual U.S. - Azerbaijan Joint Economic Task Force meeting.

Ambassadorial Remarks at BISNIS/USACC Event on November 30, 2005

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