Islamabad : H.E. Ali Alizada, Ambassador of Azerbaijan said that his country was keen to further promote bilateral trade with Pakistan as both countries have tremendous scope to enhance trade and economic cooperation in many fields. He said that Azerbaijan and Pakistan enjoyed excellent relations at political level, but trade and economic relations were not matching with them, therefore, there was a great need to focus on promoting trade relations that would yield highly beneficial results for the economies of both countries. He was addressing the business community during his visit to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI).
Ali Alizada said that the people of Azerbaijan have great love for Pakistan and feel comfortable in doing business with it, therefore, Pakistan should seriously consider to expand trade cooperation with it. He said that Azerbaijan has signed free trade agreements with 10 countries of the region including Russia, therefore, by investing in Azerbaijan and increasing trade cooperation with it, Pakistani investors could promote exports to all these regional countries. He said that Covid-19 pandemic has caused some slowdown in trade activity between the two countries, but after the coronavirus was over, bilateral trade was expected to get a boost. He said that Azerbaijan was interested in developing railways links and direct flights with Pakistan soon after the end of Covid-19. He identified agriculture, industry, tourism, mining, hospitality and defense as potential areas of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Pakistan.
The envoy said that Pakistani pharma companies have huge potential in his country and they should set up manufacturing plants in Azerbaijan. He said that Azerbaijan was establishing a free economic zone next to the port of Baku and Pakistani investors should explore JVs and investment in this facility. He said that an online business forum between the two countries was planned in March and said that Pakistani business community should attend it to explore business collaboration with the counterparts of Azerbaijan. He said that ICCI should take a delegation to Azerbaijan to explore its market and he would cooperate in connecting them with right partners in his country.
Speaking at the occasion, Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that the bilateral trade of around US$ 16-17 million between Pakistan and Azerbaijan was quite nominal given the actual potential of both countries and more serious efforts were needed from both sides to improve it. He said that many good quality Pakistani products including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, surgical instruments, sports goods, cutlery, electrical appliances, textile & leather products, furniture, home-made crafts, food and fruits products, engineering & consumer goods, rice have great scope in Azerbaijan and it should increase imports of these products from Pakistan.
Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan said that Pakistan was setting up many special economic zones under CPEC that offered 10 years’ tax holiday, therefore, investors of Azerbaijan should explore opportunities of JVs and investment in these SEZs that would help in further strengthening bilateral business cooperation between the two countries. He said that Azerbaijan was quite rich in energy and it can help Pakistan in this sector as well. He assured that ICCI would try to take a business delegation to Azerbaijan in March 2021 to explore business collaboration with counterparts in Azerbaijan and analyze the market potential for Pakistani products. He said the delegation would also interact with investors of Azerbaijan and inform them about the potential business opportunities for them in various sectors of Pakistan’s economy.
Fatma Azim Senior Vice President, Abdul Rehman Khan Vice President ICCI, Aslam Khokhar and others also spoke at the occasion and stressed that steps should be taken to bridge the gap between the private sectors of both countries to increase two-way trade up to the real potential of both countries.