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American and Azerbaijani Companies Seek to Boost Trade Ties at USACC Business and Investment Conference in Baku


American and Azerbaijani Companies Seek to Boost Trade Ties at USACC Business and Investment Conference in Baku

BAKU, Azerbaijan—With $2.3 billion in trade ties between the U.S. and Azerbaijan last year, business and government leaders looked at ways to further develop commercial partnerships between the two countries at a major investment conference in Baku last week.

Some 200 business and government leaders spent a day identifying new opportunities for increased trade ties, particularly in the non-oil sector, at the USACC conference in Baku, “Business Opportunities for America and Azerbaijan.” The event was sponsored by the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce.

James Baker IV, a co-chair of the USACC, said in his keynote address that Azerbaijan has shown remarkable economic progress even in difficult times. Much of that progress has in the past been tied to energy exports for Azerbaijan, which produces over one percent of the world’s oil each day.

“Even during the global crisis periods, Azerbaijan showed positive dynamics: exports rose 45%, currency reserves were at $22 billion, and 100,000 new jobs were created. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan is seeking new opportunities,” Baker said.

Such opportunities abound. Azerbaijan is seeking to position itself as a technology hub, including the creation of a “tech park” for ICT companies. The country is also planning to launch a second satellite soon after its first, scheduled to head into orbit in 2012. In addition, new technologies and equipment in agriculture are needed in Azerbaijan. Franchising opportunities are also strong in a country with a growing middle class. Renewable energy projects also show promise in the Caspian nation abundant in wind and sun.

The conference drew a roster of high-profile speakers, including Azerbaijan Finance Minister Samir Sharifov, Shahmar Movsumov of the State Oil Fund and the head of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, Jahangir Hajiyev. From the American side, the conference welcomed U.S. Ambassador Matthew Bryza. American companies were also present, among them Martin Bentrott, a Vice-President at Boeing, which last week delivered to Azerbaijan a 767 aircraft, the first of the nation’s new $1 billion air carrier fleet.

The conference was made possible with the sponsorship of the International Bank of Azerbaijan and Azercell (Platinum Sponsors); Chevron (Gold Sponsor); and BP (Silver Sponsor).

“This was a great day in the history of commercial cooperation between Azerbaijan and the U.S.,” said Mahir Iskender, USACC’s Executive Director. “It showed how far we have come in terms of doing business together and how far we aim to go in the future. Today, when people think of Azerbaijan they think of oil and gas. In the future, they’ll be thinking of ICT, renewable energy, franchising opportunities, tourism, and so much more. Azerbaijan is open for business, and American companies can seize great opportunities here.”

The conference consisted of five major sessions with topics including: a look beyond oil exports; IT and technology; investment and untapped sources of American capital; new energy realities of Azerbaijan; and franchising opportunities.

Photos from 7th USACC Business and Investment Conference

About the USACC: 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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