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World Bank and IMF Experts to Focus on Diversifying Azerbaijan's Economy Building

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 10, 2010


World Bank and IMF Experts to Focus on Diversifying Azerbaijan's Economy, Building a Middle Class

Washington, D.C. – Azerbaijan has weathered the global financial storm well compared to numerous other countries around the world, thanks in part to its oil and gas reserves and the wealth that has come with such critical energy supplies. Now, starting next year, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will focus on several aspects of the country's economy aimed at further stabilization.

That was the message of three economic experts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Georgetown-based United States - Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) to discuss the new World Bank Country Partnership Strategy.

"Unlike its neighbors in the region, Azerbaijan's economy kept growing rapidly between 2006 and 2010, with a slight slow-down in 2010," said Christos Kostopoulos, the Senior Country Economist for Azerbaijan from the World Bank Group, adding that "it is advisable to change from oil for long-term sustainability, and for job creation. The story of the Country Partnership Strategy is how we are going to help Azerbaijan do more of that."

Kostopoulos was joined at the Dec. 9 briefing by former Gregory T. Jedrzejczak, the Lead Private Sector Development Specialist of the World Bank for Europe and Central Asia, as well Azer Mursagulov, the Advisor to the IMF's Executive Director from Azerbaijan.

The World Bank's "Country Partnership Strategy with Azerbaijan 2011-14" will support the Azerbaijani government's development priorities while strengthening a diversified economy and improving the effectiveness of social and community services.

"Looking forward, as described by the new Country Partnership Strategy, the primary focus of future cooperation would be to support the country's development plans through various infrastructure investment programs, further deepening of the policy dialogue and assistance in designing the reform agenda, as well as knowledge transfer and capacity building, both intellectual and institutional, in Azerbaijan," Mursaqulov said in summarizing the World Bank's priorities.

Jedrzejczak, who also served as Country Manager for the World Bank in Azerbaijan between 2006 and 2010, focused his comments on how to increase upper middle income wealth in the country by 2020. He also said Azerbaijan needs to ensure economic stability by safeguarding oil revenues, improve public expenditure efficiency, and promote sustainable development while mitigating ecological damage.

The briefing was attended by USACC member companies, as well as the representatives of the United States government and non-government organizations. The presentations of the speakers are available at www.usacc.org.

***

The United States - Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that seeks to promote trade and investments between the United States and Azerbaijan by rendering various business services. The USACC actively seeks U.S. and international investments and companies whose products and strategic interests can be advanced in the Azerbaijani market. It also serves as a liaison between foreign companies and Azerbaijani businesses and government officials. To learn more about the USACC, please visit www.usacc.org.

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