‘Results of reforms are major topic of Caspian Energy Forum Baku 2017’
Baku, November 14, AZERTAC
First Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) Telman Aliyev has responded to questions from AZERTAC.
-In 2017 Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) will accomplish 15 years since its establishment. Which achievements over this period would you like to highlight in particular?
-Since the fall of the last year Azerbaijan and Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) have been experiencing a very interesting historical moment. The purposes pursued while creating the Club far back in 2002 are now gaining a new impetus for development. Serious economic reforms are being introduced in the country under the leadership of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Chairman of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) Ilham Aliyev. They are already yielding certain results. We see and hear it from our foreign partners in 50 countries of the world, who are optimistic, aspire to establish their business here, engage actively in running processes, make investments and find partners in Azerbaijan. Apart from this, they offer their services for introducing Azerbaijani brands at global markets.
Secondly, it made Azerbaijani companies more confident. The pressure and negative moments, which Azerbaijani companies faced for several years, receded into the background. The Head of State set his control over all these processes and we find it very important that on the threshold of our anniversary the Chairman of the Club, who initiated our activity and the Club itself, provides much broader support to the mission that was assigned to the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) from the very beginning.
As far as our activity is concerned, I may say that the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) together with the Caspian Energy Marketing Company, which has been operating since 1991, holds a closed poll among heads of large and medium companies to reveal those negative moments, which led to the introduction of reforms. Namely, it is bureaucratic obstacles, set by the government agencies, and corruption components arising in the relations between government agencies and the business in certain cases. Further all these results are presented directly to the head of state in a combined format.
-What could you tell about the results of this year?
- It is noteworthy that results gained this year are very good. Companies are quite optimistic. There are still many problems left but we are confident that if the introduction of reforms, which started in autumn of the last year, continues in the same way it will help to shortly solve the majority of problems troubling the business. I also would like to draw your attention to the fact that pressing problems discussed in 2002, 2005 and 2010 find their solution nowadays. That is to say, the further we and the government agencies go forward, trying to solve certain problems and considering suggestions of the business within the framework of certain business forums, round tables or working groups, the higher gets the number of problems to which the business has not paid attention before. But life goes on and technologies keep developing. There are very many changes that have to be made in the legal framework. In particular, many changes have to be made in the tax, customs, labor and migration codes within the framework of new reforms. The legislation has a lot of gaps hindering development of certain business areas. There is a big need to reform a judicial system which will give a strong impetus in solution of many disputable conflicts between the economic entities.
Besides, we sent a package of proposals to Mr. Ilham Aliyev in the first half of 2016.
In these suggestions we have highlighted the measures which have to be introduced nowadays so that business can lend a maximum support to the state in the post-oil period that we are currently going through. We extend our gratitude to President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev for acceptance of the majority of our suggestions. Owing to these suggestions, the private sector will be able to increase its share in budget supply and demonstrate good results in creation of new working places and production of competitive products.
-Which crisis handling ways would you offer?
-The major recipe for handling the crisis is the reforms which were announced and implemented by President Ilham Aliyev: support and stimulation of the private, real sector of economy, certain liberalization of the market, privatization of state companies, stimulation and attraction of the foreign capital, development of the small and medium business. We should allow our companies to float freely. They will manage to choose the way they need on their own as Azerbaijan was located in the center of intersection of the global trade routes from olden times and the entrepreneurship runs in the blood of our people. Some of them will face bankruptcy or be absorbed by the market, but most of the state and private companies have all chances to become companies of regional importance or even one of top 100 global corporations in terms of key exchange figures. Therefore, I think we should slightly transform the investment legal and institutional framework (this work is already underway), carry out proper risk assessment, marketing surveys, choose perspective segments of the market and enter global stock exchanges by using the experience of investment funds which have been long familiar to us.
There is nothing new for Azerbaijan in this area as all active oil-gas projects of Azerbaijan have been anyway represented at the global stock markets through their shareholders since the signing of the first contract of the century under the leadership of All-National Leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. Their success has been repeatedly marked at the market. We often saw certain small western companies sign contracts in Baku and their shares rise high enough, which turned their owners from millionaires into multimillionaires within a single moment.
These are global and successful projects and will be of interest to global investors for decades to come. As a staff, we are very proud that we have been engaged since 1994 in lending informational support to strategic projects which were of importance to the global market.
-Could you please tell about business forums organized by the Club...
-At least twice a month the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) arranges business forums with participation of heads of government structures – a minister, a head of the state committee, state agency or a state service. The official part of the business forum is held with participation of Media. Heads of government agencies make presentations and tell about the work carried out by their institution. After the official part is over, the Media representatives leave the event room whereafter discussion of problems and proposals is held with companies. It is the basis of our work that we are doing now.
The amount of reports we are preparing for the government, parliament and administration of the President the way the other entrepreneurial organizations do is not big. We are trying to contact the real sector, real business, study their problems and solve them directly on the level of a ministry which supervises this area.
As you know, there are branch clubs operating within the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) and headed by heads of companies leading in different areas of the economy. There are also many events held within the framework of these branch clubs so that to study the problems and proposals of entrepreneurs. At the end all these results are summarized and studied by the expert council whereafter they are twice a year submitted to Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Chairman of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club). A new management board has been recently elected and we hope that it will be the most effective one over the years of operation of the Club.
-The 4th International Caspian Energy Forum Baku, which you have rescheduled to 2017, was fixed for December of this year. Could you please tell which important topics are going to be addressed at this event? How many delegates will attend the forum? Representatives from which countries will attend the Forum?
-The 4th International Caspian Energy Forum Baku – 2017, organized by the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) and Caspian Energy International Media Group, will take place on March 15, 2017. It is the platform for oil and non-oil sector companies. Many companies find this forum a major event of the Club. Apart from this, 5,000 member companies from 50 countries of the world, where the member companies of CEIBC operate, send their delegates for participation in this forum. We plan to attract from 300 up to 500 delegates who will represent different sectors of economy. It is mainly top managers. First of all we are very grateful to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev for the support lent to the idea of conduction of this forum. We also would like to extend our gratitude to the Government of Azerbaijan and members of the Government, who will attend our forum. It is a symbolic forum for us, as it is timed to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) and the release of the 100th issue of the Caspian Energy journal.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Chairman of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) Ilham Aliyev is expected to attend the forum where an international prize Caspian Energy Award – 2016 will be presented to him in the nomination “Reformer of the Year”. In general, this forum will be dedicated to the preliminary results of the reforms which are implemented in Azerbaijan.
Conditionally, we have divided the forum into two parts. The first part is dedicated to the projects of the oil-gas and energy sector while the second part is dedicated to the active development of the non-oil sector.
Within the framework of the forum it is possible to listen to our speakers, most of whom represent government agencies controlling different sectors of economy. Besides, the companies will be able to establish relations with each other within the framework of coffee breaks and business lunch. Apart from this, hotels and tourism companies, who are members of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club), provide a maximum discount to foreign guests coming to Azerbaijan. They have worked out an interesting tourism program which included excursions and attendance of historical sights of our capital.
-What kind of media projects is the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) implementing?
-As you know, Caspian Energy International Media Group is operating under support of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club). There are many different projects being implemented within the framework of our cooperation with the Media Group. For instance, we have a Caspian Energy journal which is considered our flagship and recognized in more than 50 countries of the world. It is the only journal in the world which has interviews of Presidents or Prime Ministers of different countries published in every issue. Global experts, heads of different government agencies are pleased to do interview, heads of large world companies share their opinion with the readers on the pages of the Caspian Energy journal. We also have a new project which we introduced with great pleasure. It is an online Caspian Energy News newspaper. One can enter the www.caspianenergy.net, view this newspaper and interviews of experts who express their opinion about reforms held in Azerbaijan and other countries of the Caspian-Black Sea region. There are many projects which are necessary instruments for businessmen. It is www.caspianenergy.photo through which one can access photo materials of all events and www.caspianenergy.tv providing detailed video of all events we arrange.
-How prioritised is the training of new personnel?
- The Caspian Energy International Media Group with the support of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) has introduced a new program on free trainings for students of the universities with which we have the memorandums signed on the level of rectors.
Trainings are held in the editorial office of the Caspian Energy International Media Group and in various departments. They cover several areas, including practical trainings, theoretical ideas. Students take part in work on a fresh issue of the journal, organisation of a next event, making a new web project a reality, etc.
That is to say, people who start their professional life can feel an own responsibility in implementation of a certain project, which is of big importance for their future activity. Distinguished students get a certificate at the end of these trainings, which helps to be employed among member companies of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club).
Apart from this, together with a group of physiologists we hold active physiological trainings with sportsmen for the improvement of their results at international contests. The mentioned trainings are held on basis of the agreement with sport federations of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia.
Every quarter I hold trainings for top-managers of CEIBC member companies about “Psychology of marketing, Brand-management and PR”. These trainings became particularly popular during the crisis as they turn out effective in practical use.
-Could you please provide more detailed information about the prizes you award to entrepreneurs...?
-The Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) is the organizer of the three awarding ceremonies (Caspian CEO Award, Caspian Brand Award and Caspian Media Award), which are held following the results of a months-long online poll. Photos, names and positions of top managers of companies are placed on the Caspian CEO Award website (www.award.ceo), corporate brands, brands of goods and services are placed on the Caspian Brand Award website (www.brandaward.org), and photos of heads of press services of government agencies and diplomatic missions, as well as marketing managers and PR managers of private companies and media executives are placed on the Caspian Media Award website (www.award.az). Only member companies of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) from 50 countries are allowed to take part in the poll. The full process starting from registration, poll and up to getting the award is free of charge. One should win 5,000 votes to be able to receive the award. If several participants in one category win 5,000 votes, a participant that wins the highest number of votes becomes a winner. To be able to vote, one should register on the website. You can vote once a day from one IP-address. The awarding ceremonies will be held twice a year - in March and September.
-You told how the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) promotes the development of the government-business dialogue in Azerbaijan. What kind of services can the Club offer outside of the country?
-Over 80% of the member companies of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) are located outside of Azerbaijan and have offices neither in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan or any other Caspian littoral state. But at the same time they have the intention to work in the countries of the Caspian region in the future. In this regard, we plan to restore operation and resume active work of our offices in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Czech Republic and other countries. We have applied to the companies that have business interests in one of these countries and expressed willingness to discuss partnership in managing those offices with them. In each of those countries there can be from one to four partners. Every 3 months one of the partners will manage the activity of the Caspian European Club (Caspian Business Club) in that country according to the rotation system. The partnership will contribute to promotion and awareness of a company’s business at all levels, and at the same time will enable to notably expand and increase a customer base. One of the activities of foreign offices will be promotion of the Azerbaijani brands and their popularization in those countries.
Today we see a very strong interest from the European and American companies that are willing to cooperate with us.
-How can the Club promote business abroad at the information level?
-Naturally, companies are committed to positioning themselves. All member companies of the Club are being published in the special directory catalog in each issue of the Caspian Energy journal. Also we have the information portal Caspian Energy INFO, which provides the complete information about a company, its logo and a photo of a top manager, as well as information about services or products they offer. Therefore, we are creating conditions to enable companies to build relations within the framework of a virtual cooperation.
Seizing the opportunity, I would like to thank all the representatives of the state bodies that closely cooperate with us and are attentive to our activities. We are hopeful that in the future we also will be able to apply this practice in other countries, where the Club operates, in order to establish a certain system of cooperation, a government-business dialogue at the highest level.