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Turkey, Azerbaijan agree to form simplified customs line

Turkey, Azerbaijan agree to form simplified customs line

Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed to establish a simplified customs line and to sign a preferential trade agreement this year to facilitate mutual trade and accelerate customs procedures, Vice President Fuat Oktay said Monday.

Oktay’s remarks came on the sidelines of the Turkey-Azerbaijan Eighth Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting, which was held in Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku and co-chaired by Oktay and Azerbaijan Prime Minister Novruz Mammadov.

In his address, Oktay said that they signed the Eighth Term Joint Economic Commission Protocol with Mammadov. Noting that Turkey and Azerbaijan were two major economic powers in the region, the vice president stressed that the synergy created by the transformation of this power to higher levels of cooperation would contribute to the welfare of the people of the two countries and stability in the region.

He said that the positive progress in Turkish-Azerbaijani relations was observed not only in trade relations but also in mutual investments and that the bilateral trade volume, $296 million in 2002, reached $3.2 billion as of the end of 2018.

Oktay indicated that Turkey’s direct investments in Azerbaijan reached $11 billion, including investments made through the third countries, while Azerbaijan’s direct investments in Turkey were $9 billion.

“We expect this amount to increase exponentially with joint projects initiated in the energy field in recent years. As two friendly countries, we wish to take our relations further in every field and extend them to new areas of cooperation,” he said.

Strategic energy cooperation

The vice president added that they also agreed to cooperate in many fields from trade to energy, from transportation to education, from agriculture to health as a result of commission studies in which economic and commercial relations between the countries were handled in the broadest scope and depth, followed by the preparation of a relevant action plan.

Oktay pointed out that 147 actions were included in the signed plan for the 2019-2022 period.

He listed the agreed actions as the initiation of technical cooperation in the fields of Halal Accreditation and Halal Certification, determination of products with high potential in terms of input supply of both countries in raw material and semi-finished products, contributing to foreign trade volume by conducting studies at the company level, cooperating in the field of e-commerce between their postal authorities, starting efforts to update the Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and efforts to facilitate border crossing procedures under the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project.

Stressing that joint tariff and potential cooperation areas would continue to be consulted to increase the capacity of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project and make it more attractive and competitive, Oktay said that the agreed issues also included organizing an Energy Forum to increase strategic energy cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan.

He indicated that the Joint Economic Commission provided an important opportunity to review and improve agreements constituting the legal infrastructure of relations between countries.

Close cooperation

Since the private sector should support all startups in the countries and mobilize all opportunities for a stronger Turkey and a stronger Azerbaijan in the Eurasian region and the world, Oktay stressed that the doors of the countries should be opened to businesspeople and that they should be guided to the end.

Pointing to the contracting and consulting sector as one of the potential areas of cooperation, Oktay said that the 406 projects undertaken by Turkish contracting companies in Azerbaijan were valued at $13 billion, noting that Turkish contracting firms gained great experience in public-private cooperation projects.

“I would like to emphasize that we are ready to share our experience in this field with our Azerbaijani friends. We have been working in close cooperation with them for a quarter of a century to end the occupation that lasts on about one-fifth of the territory of Azerbaijan. Turkey is determined to do its part in cooperation with our Azerbaijani friends in order not to engage in trade and economic activities with the Upper Karabakh and other occupied territories, which are part of Azerbaijan,” he said.

Karabakh – a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia – broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with military support from neighboring Armenia, and a peace process has yet to be implemented.