Baku, May 14, AZERTAC
An Azerbaijani-Vietnamese business forum has been held in Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Truong Tan Sang attended the business forum.
The Presidents made speeches at the event.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev:
- Dear Mr. President,
Dear ladies and gentlemen.
The Vietnamese-Azerbaijani business forum is being held today. This is a great event. It is a very important event for the development of our bilateral relations. As you may know, the official visit of the President of Vietnam to Azerbaijan is successfully continuing. We have discussed practically all spheres of our bilateral agenda, exchanged views on the work being done and talked about joint plans for the future.
Our political ties are the main prerequisite for the development of relations in the economic sphere. Vietnamese-Azerbaijani relations are those of friendship and partnership. I am pleased to recall my last year's official visit to Vietnam. During that visit we laid the foundations of our cooperation, because it was the first contact at the highest level. The visit had a very positive outcome. Exactly a year later the President of Vietnam is our guest. In fact, this shows that the relations between us are very broad.
We would like the picture observed in the political sphere to take shape in the field of economy. In order to achieve this, of course, both members of the government and business entities must make efforts. Last year, during my visit to Vietnam, we held a business forum as well. It is now being held in Baku. This indicates quite a large interest in working together.
In recent years, Vietnam's economy has been developing very fast. We know this and congratulate you, Mr. President, on this achievement. This situation is already receiving praise worldwide and represents a manifestation of a sound policy.
The Azerbaijani economy is also developing rapidly. All our plans are fulfilled on time and successfully. Azerbaijan is a country open to foreign investment. In the years of independence our country received more than $200 billion in investment. Last year alone investments in Azerbaijan amounted to $27 billion. This shows that both foreign and local investors have confidence in our country and its future.
We have an excellent investment environment. Foreign and domestic investments are protected by the state. If this were not the case, so much investment would not be made in Azerbaijan. We observe dynamics also in the volume of investments. In recent years domestic investments have been dominant. Approximately 70 per cent of total investments are domestic. This shows that the Azerbaijani economy maintains a high pace.
Azerbaijan applies the best practices in the protection of foreign investments. In other words, I believe that Vietnamese investors could benefit a lot from working with and investing in Azerbaijan.
At the same time, Mr. President and I have also discussed possibilities of ensuring a broader representation of Vietnamese companies in Azerbaijan. I can’t say that we have achieved great success in this, but I do hope that we will see excellent results here after this visit.
Our people have a great sympathy towards each other. In the 1970-1980s, Azerbaijani specialists worked in the oil and gas sector of Vietnam. In the Soviet period, Vietnamese people studied in Azerbaijan. While visiting Vietnam I met with them. Today there are about 30 Vietnamese students in Azerbaijan, and Mr. President and I decided that it was necessary to increase their number.
The Azerbaijani economy is sustainable. Of course, the oil and gas sector was crucial for our economic development in the early stages. But today, about 70 per cent of our gross domestic product is generated in the non-oil sector. This suggests that economic diversification in Azerbaijan is already a reality.
At the same time, the oil sector, of course, is always in the spotlight. The document signed between SOCAR and “PetroVietnam” today will contribute to further cooperation in this field. We want “PetroVietnam” to take part in the development of Azerbaijan’s ample oil and gas fields. I think that the relations between our companies will provide that. At the same time, SOCAR is also accessing foreign markets now and seeking to expand its operations abroad. Thus, there can be a very useful and fruitful cooperation based on mutual interests in this field.
I think that given such an attachment of our peoples to each other, we must strengthen the links between people. The first and foremost means of that, of course, is the tourism sector. In this area we can organize specific formats of cooperation. We must unlock our tourism opportunities so that people could know what options are available.
I think there is a good opportunity to increase our turnover. Our turnover is already quite high. We are countries located far apart and the distance is fairly large. Taking this into account, we can see that the turnover is at a good level. Of course, it can be increased further.
There are good opportunities for cooperation in the field of agriculture. Azerbaijan has been taking serious measures of late to develop agriculture. We signed an agreement on this area today. At present, Azerbaijan is in the process of creating large industrial estates. We would like Vietnamese companies to take part in this work.
In other words, taking advantage of the fact that our political relations are at a high level, we certainly need to achieve the best results in the field of economy. The main thing is that both sides have very serious political will. I believe that the holding of business forums will be a key tool in this, because there is political will and intergovernmental ties are strong enough. The delegation accompanying the President of Vietnam today includes senior officials. An important part is played by the relationships between state bodies and ministries.
Of course, our Vietnamese friends are getting acquainted with Azerbaijan today and seeing the opportunities available in our country. Indeed, in the years of independence Azerbaijan has covered a long and glorious road. We have provided complete economic independence and energy security. Transportation security issues in the region are also being resolved with the participation of Azerbaijan. I have informed my colleague about that. As a result of the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, Azerbaijan will become a very important transport hub between Europe and Asia. There will be new opportunities in this area.
In the years of independence we have only relied on our own strength, which is why our foreign debt is at a very low level. It is probably one of the lowest in the world. Our foreign debt accounts for about 10 per cent of our gross domestic product. In other words, it shows that we did not borrow a lot, have counted on our own strength and have fully achieved economic independence. We do not depend on foreign financial institutions but are actively working with them.
Earlier this month Baku hosted the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank. More than 3,000 people were here. The holding of such a representative event in Azerbaijan reflects the attitude and confidence of Asian economic structures and governments in Azerbaijan. At the same time, Azerbaijan has established close ties with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In other words, international financial institutions also appreciate the reforms carried out in Azerbaijan. We are making the best of our opportunities, but rely mostly on our domestic resources. This is the right choice. This choice has allowed us the opportunity to facilitate diversified economic development today.
The government of Azerbaijan has a fairly broad and meaningful approach to our plans for the future. In the future, we will take additional measures for the development of our country. Our economic development is sustainable and diversified. Therefore, the well-being of our people will improve.
The business environment in Azerbaijan is also very positive. The Azerbaijani government supports the private sector. I hold regular meetings with business people of Azerbaijan and provide them with political support. My only requirement from business people is that they organize their work within the frames of law. In this case, no-one will have no problems. Azerbaijan is building a law-governed state and all issues must be addressed within the framework of law.
Dear Mr. President, I sincerely welcome you once again. Let me say to all the guests from Vietnam - "Welcome!" Thank you.
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Apart from Azerbaijani and Vietnamese officials, the business forum was attended by nearly 170 businessmen operating in the fields of oil and gas, energy, construction, ICT, finance, banking, agriculture, industry, trade, service, tourism, transport and pharmaceutics.
As part of the event, bilateral meetings between Azerbaijani and Vietnamese businessmen were held.