- Azerbaijan’s economy has been on a steady upward trajectory since 2007.
- It has positioned itself as a strategic transport hub between Europe and Asia.
- Pipeline developments can boost Azerbaijan’s natural gas exports to Europe significantly.
The World Economic Forum is one of the largest platforms that unites politicians, business people and public organisations to hold discussions on global economic processes, agenda and socio-political processes. The Forum provides extensive access to abundant information on global economic trends.
I am planning to attend the Annual Meeting of the Forum in Davos for the 14th time since 2007. The World Economic Forum has not only been a great platform for presenting the realities of Azerbaijan to the world community but has provided comprehensive information about global economic trends. This has helped us promote socio-economic reforms in our country and attract foreign investments. Due to such reforms, our country’s economy grew by 80% between 2007 and 2019, by 2.1 times in the non-oil sector and by 13 times in its strategic currency reserves. Poverty levels have decreased by more than four times over this period with the unemployment rate settling at 4.9% after a substantial decrease. Azerbaijan was twice recognized as a top business-reformer country in the Doing Business 2009 and 2019 reports. We have attracted $US111 billion in foreign investment since 2007, which has contributed to the development of all sectors of the economy. As a result, while initially ranked 64th in the Global Competitiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum in 2006-2007, Azerbaijan rose to 35th among 137 countries in 2017-2018. In 2019, Azerbaijan tied for second place in the category of “Electricity access”, ranked third in terms of “Burden of government regulation” and “Ease of hiring foreign labour”, fifth in “Government’s responsiveness to change”, eighth in “Time to start a business”, and 10th in “Government long-term vision”.
A strategic transport hub
In the same report, Azerbaijan ranked 11th among the 141 countries in “Efficiency of train services”, 12th in “Efficiency of air transport services”, 25th in “Efficiency of seaport services” and 27th in “Quality of Road Infrastructure”. How? Significant developments to the country’s transportation and road infrastructure were made possible by foreign and local investment. But capital has not been the only factor in our transport improvements; cooperation has played an important role too. Cooperation within the framework of the Forum has enabled Azerbaijan to act as a global transit hub, and, specifically, as a key player in North-South and East-West transport corridors. Initiated by Azerbaijan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway that connects the railways of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey became operational in October 2017. It is a cohesive and sustainable transportation corridor that connects Asia and Europe. Azerbaijan was also the impetus for the largest port in the Caspian Sea, the new Baku International Sea Commercial Port that was commissioned in May 2018.