Ambassador for engaging private sector in Azerbaijan-Pakistan groups

By comment user Apr19,2024

KARACHI: Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Khazar Farhadov has stressed that although Azerbaijan and Pakistan have strong relations at the political and defense levels in addition to close historical bonds but there was a dire need to further develop economic and business relations also by providing more facilitations to the private sector.

The private sector should be engaged in the Joint Working Groups, the establishment of which have been agreed between the Parties at the seventh session of the Azerbaijan-Pakistan Intergovernmental Joint Commission which was held on December 01-02, 2021, in Baku.

The Joint Working Groups are for trade, agriculture, banking, energy, tourism, information and communication technologies, transport, youth, health, military-technical and labor fields wherein the private entities should also be invited to become part of these Joint Working Groups to achieve the desired level of trade and economic cooperation, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, Vice President Tanveer Barry, Former Presidents Majyd Aziz and Junaid Makda along with KCCI Managing Committee Members attended the meeting.

Azerbaijani Ambassador informed that work was currently underway on a Transit Trade Agreement and Preferential Trade Agreement between the two countries, which would lead to improved trade ties. Ambassador added that according to the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan on November 22, 2022, rice imported from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was exempted from import customs duty until December 31, 2027.

He especially stressed that the successful official visit of the highly esteemed Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif to the Republic of Azerbaijan on June 14-15, 2023, gave a strong impetus to the comprehensive and rapid development of strategic partnership between the two brotherly countries. Thus, on the basis of the tasks given by the leaders of both countries during the said visit regarding the expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of the information communication technologies, transport, defense industry, energy and trade, relevant visits were carried out and achievements were reached.

Ambassador stressed that the resumption of LNG supplies by the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the perspectives of mutual investments in respective fields, including the energy and IT, will not only contribute to the both countries’ economies, but also raise cooperation between two brotherly states to a new level.

According to the opinion of the Ambassador taking into account the fact that Azerbaijan supplies LNG to Pakistan on the basis of the “Framework Agreement on the purchase and sale of LNG cargoes between “SOCAR Trading” Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan and “Pakistan LNG Limited” Company”, the signing ceremony of which was held in Lahore city of Pakistan on July 24, 2023, with the participation of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the volume of total trade transactions between the two countries, carried out directly, as well as with the participation of “SOCAR Trading” Company in 2023, exceeded US$100 million increasing more than 3 times in 2023, comparing to 2022 figures which also tripled 2021’s records. Accordingly, there are 9 times of increase in last 2 years.

Additionally, Khazar Farhadov stated that given the easy visa obtaining condition for Pakistani citizen and AZAL (Azerbaijan Airlines) direct flights starting in 2023, more than 50,000 Pakistani citizens visited Azerbaijan in 2023 (including ordinary citizens and representatives of public and private business circles). The works done have great contribution to the establishment of connectivity between Azerbaijan and Pakistan, as well as people to people contacts. Thus, AZAL has started direct flights Baku-Lahore-Baku (since September 22 2023), Baku-Islamabad-Baku (since November 1, 2023), Baku-Karachi-Baku (since April 18, 2024), twice a week in each direction.

Underscoring the need to focus on improving linkages between the business communities of the two countries, he said that participation in each other’s exhibitions and frequent visits would open up more avenues of trade cooperation by bringing people closer to each other. “Without private sector’s participation, we will never be possible to achieve what we are looking for.”

He said, “Pakistan has continued to extend full support to Azerbaijan at all international levels which the people of Azerbaijan highly admire and we consider Pakistan as a brotherly country.

Earlier, President KCCI Iftikhar Sheikh, while welcoming the Ambassador, stated that Pakistan and Azerbaijan have a long-standing historical relationship, reinforced by regular high-level interactions. The bilateral social, cultural and economic cooperation between the two countries reflects the depth and strength of these relationships.

He mentioned that in FY23, Pakistan’s exports to Azerbaijan amounted to approximately $6.8 million, falling short of their potential, hence, efforts have to be made to elevate these exports to a reasonable level by eliminating trade barriers, streamlining customs procedures, improving the business environment, and assisting SMEs of both countries.

He said that Pakistan’s acute energy crisis, compounded by its heavy reliance on expensive imported fuels, pose affordability challenges, hence, Azerbaijan, with its abundant energy resources, could assist Pakistan in dealing with these challenges. “Keeping in view the agricultural potential of both countries, it’s vital to explore opportunities in areas like agricultural research, advanced irrigation techniques, livestock management, seed exchange programs, disease diagnostics and risk management. This can deepen bilateral economic integration and boost agro-food trade and exports between the two countries”, he added.

He opined that Azerbaijan’s companies can explore Joint Ventures and investments in SEZs under the CPEC, which can further strengthen our economic relations. The investors from Azerbaijan should capitalize on the opportunities provided by SIFC and pursue joint ventures in potential sectors such as agriculture and livestock, energy, IT and telecom, energy, industry, trade and tourism.

President KCCI stressed that both countries should explore available opportunities to expand their trade in textiles, cotton, ready-made garments, rice, chemicals, and pharmaceutical products. “We should also consider diversifying our trade and boosting exports for further economic cooperation. Establishing academic linkages between agrarian institutions may strengthen bilateral relations and economic cooperation between the two countries.” He also invited Azerbaijan to participate in the upcoming My Karachi-Oasis of Harmony International Exhibition scheduled to be staged from 2nd to 4th August 2024, which has always been an excellent platform for promotion of trade and economic activities.

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