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30/09/2017 - 07:00hs
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Azerbaijan wants to expand trade with Brazil

Ambassador Elkhan Polukhov contacted the Arab Chamber to exchange information on trade and investments, given the cultural and territorial proximity of the Caucasus country with Arab nations.



São Paulo – The ambassador of Azerbaijan in Brasília, Elkhan Polukhov, visited this week the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, in São Paulo, where he was welcomed by its CEO, Michel Alaby. He wants support in the promotion of bilateral trade. Although his country is not Arab, the diplomat said that the sought the organization due to the cultural and territorial proximity with the Middle East nations.

Alexandre Rocha/ANBA

Polukhov: Azerbaijan has a lot in common with Arab countries

“We have a lot in common, the culture, [majority of] Muslim population, close cooperation with the Arab League and an intense political and economic dialogue in Brasília,” said the ambassador to ANBA. “We believe that the Chamber can be a good and reliable source of information for us to build partnerships and business relations with Brazil,” he added.

Polukhov said that his country is mainly a producer and exporter of oil and gas, but that there’s interest in diversifying the economy to reduce reliance on the sector. “Brazil has a great market potential for Azerbaijan’s products,” he pointed out. “We just registered the brand ‘Made in Azerbaijan’,” he said.

Among the products that the Caucasus country can offer are food products, especially organic and industrialized, according to the ambassador. He added that there’s also a project for the construction of a plant for production of chemicals from oil, including fertilizers. “Since Brazil is a large agricultural country, it can be interested,” he said.

From January to August of 2017, Brazil exported USD 69.6 million worth of products to Azerbaijan, an increase of 876% over the same period of 2016. However, imports totaled only USD 168,000 in the year’s first eight months. The data is from Brazil’s Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC). Given the trade unbalance, the ambassador wants to make an effort to present his country’s products to the Brazilian market.

On the other hand, Polukhov said that there’s interest in the increase of imports of Brazilian goods, such as beef and poultry, and Embraer’s aircraft. According to the diplomat, his country already bought six aircraft from the Brazilian company. He added that there’s potential for the sales of halal products, which are those prepared according to the Muslim tradition. “We are a secular country, but since the population is Muslim, the consumption of halal products is very high,” he said.

The ambassador also said that his country is interested in attracting Brazilian companies for local projects, being to the joint production of agricultural products and others, investments in infrastructure, cooperation for the transfer of technology in these areas, setting up of joint-ventures and other options.

“Geographically, we are at the junction of Europe, China, India, Russia, Iran and Central Asia. Our products are well-promoted in these regions and known for their quality,” said the diplomat. Caucasus stands between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and separates Eastern Europe from Western Asia.

The ambassador pointed out that Azerbaijan has a large volume of trade with the Arab countries in areas such as the oil industry and meat exports. “We have also investments from different Arab countries in construction and logistics, among other projects,” he said.

Tourism

Tourism is other area that the ambassador plans to promote. “People can visit Azerbaijan to see ancient monuments, the mix of Western and Eastern cultures and new attractions. The tourist flow increased a lot in the last two years and in 2018 we are expecting to welcome 3 million visitors,” he said. “We have a large flow of Arab tourists,” he added.

It's part of the tourism promotion strategy to host large international sporting events, such as the Formula One Grand Prix in Baku, the capital, the 4th edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games, held in May of this year, and the 1st edition of the European Games, which took place in 2015. “We want Brazilians to also visit Azerbaijan. It’s possible to get a visa online in a couple of days,” said Polukhov.

Azerbaijan’s embassy in Brasília opened in 2011 and Polukhov is the second ambassador in office. He arrived in Brazil in February of this year.

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet Republic, currently an independent presidential republic. The population is of 9.6 million people and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in current prices, reached USD 37.5 billion in 2016, according to data from the World Bank. The per capita GDP stands at USD 3,889, also according to the IBRD. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a decline of 1% in the economy this year, but a growth of 2% next year.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani

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