Economic development is only possible with the cooperation of businesspeople. The 25th International Business Forum (IBF), which kicked off Monday in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, is expected to play a significant role in providing a platform to companies from Turkey, Azerbaijan and around the world to establish new ties while helping the Caspian country attract more investment.
The forum, held this year under the motto “Azerbaijan, the pearl of Asia,” was organized by Turkey’s Independent Industrialists and Businesspersons Association (MÜSIAD) with the cooperation of a local partner, the Small and Medium Business Development Agency of Azerbaijan (KOBIA) and the support of trade ministries and institutions from both countries.
The 25th edition of the event will focus on Azerbaijan’s potential in several sectors, including tourism, agriculture, energy and health. In addition to some 550 Turkish businesses and members of industry, it brings together distinguished entrepreneurs from Canada, Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Russia and North Africa.
Focusing on investment and business areas in each part of Azerbaijan, this year’s forum draws particular attention to the investment and development opportunities Azerbaijan’s recently liberated Nagorno-Karabakh has to offer. The region holds high potential for new investments as it was left undeveloped during Armenia’s occupation.
Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov said during the opening speech that IBF will contribute to attracting investments and the implementation of projects in Azerbaijan’s liberated territories.
“This forum is a good platform for further increasing the investment attractiveness of the country, the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In addition, the forum will contribute to attracting investments in the implementation of projects in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan,” he said.
The minister also noted that restoration work is currently being carried out in the liberated territories.
As a result of last year’s 44-day Karabakh war that started on Sept. 27, 2020, triggered by Armenia’s increasing attacks and provocations, Azerbaijan liberated its lands from occupation.
“We are implementing large projects in Karabakh, such as the creation of industrial parks, which contribute to increasing the investment attractiveness of the region,” the minister noted.
“We will be glad to see foreign companies and investors in the country in the context of the implementation of this strategy,” Jabbarov also said.
The economy minister highlighted the growth potential of Azerbaijan’s non-oil-based sectors. The country is a huge exporter of natural gas and oil, with the sector’s revenues constituting some 40% of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to the data shared during the conference.
Jabbarov said the non-oil industry’s share in his country’s total industry is forecasted to be 64% by the end of this year.
Also speaking at the event, Erol Yarar, MÜSIAD founding chairperson and IBF head, said cooperation between businesspeople is of great importance for the economic development of both Azerbaijan and Turkey.
He recalled President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent remarks that “the development of trade and economic relations lies at the heart of cooperation.”
Yarar said the forum this year is being held with the special purpose of further developing economic and trade relations.
Also speaking on Azerbaijan’s potential in non-oil-related sectors, Yarar called on Turkish and Azerbaijani officials to jointly establish a hydrogen research institution to work together to turn Azerbaijan’s natural gas resources into more environmentally friendly energy alternatives.
MÜSIAD General Manager Mahmut Asmalı, for his part, said that by holding the IBF in Baku they aim to establish a new era in Turkish-Azerbaijan business relations. New business models and investment opportunities that will shape the future of both countries will be discussed as part of the forum, Asmalı said, an event that he says bears new opportunities for the development of Karabakh.
The forum also saw the signing of several cooperation agreements such as the protocol of intent on public-private partnership (PPP) and a memorandum of understanding on bilateral cooperation.
In the event that runs through to Nov. 17, attendees have the opportunity to conduct business-to-business (B2B) meetings and take advantage of business opportunities on-site thanks
As part of the IBF that is to run through Nov. 17, businesspeople will find an opportunity to conduct business-to-business (B2B) meetings as well as avail business opportunities on-site thanks to factory and economic zone trips.