Azerbaijan's trade turnover with China increased by 43% to 1.2 billion dollars in 2017, according to Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev. Speaking at the Azerbaijani-Chinese business forum held in Beijing on February 6, the Minister said that export to China increased by 2.1 times, and “there is great potential for trade turnover augmentation” according to the press service of the Ministry of Economy.
A delegation comprising of officials and businessmen, led by Minister Mustafayev paid a visit to China on 5-7 February 2018. The purpose of the visit was the participation in international conference on the theme "The Role of Trans-Caspian international transport route in Belt & Road initiative” the Ministy of Economy said. At the conference Minister Mustafayev talked about Azerbaijan's transit potential and stressed that Baku attached great importance to the development of relations with Beijing and interested in expanding cooperation in all spheres.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
At the meeting with the China's Transport Minister Li Siaopan, Minister Mustafayev emphasized that the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan paid 5 visits to China and during the visits of the head of the state important agreements were reached. Recalling the joint statement on the establishment of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” signed during President Ilham Aliyev’s state visit to China in 2015, Minister Mustafayev noted that Azerbaijan was one of the first countries to support this initiative.The Silk Road Economic Belt is the land-based component that together with the oceanic Maritime Silk Road forms the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), formerly known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR), a Chinese government economic development framework for primarily integrating trade and investment in Eurasia. Minister Mustafayev mentioned that, enjoying the potential of the Trans-Caspian East-West Trade and Transit Corridor within the framework of the BRI initiative creates favorable conditions for boosting cooperation in the economic sphere, mainly, in the field of investment, trade and transit areas.
Import-export between Azerbaijan-China
China ranks fourth among Azerbaijan’s foreign economic partners in terms of trade volume. According to Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee, exports of Azerbaijani goods to China amounted to $434 million in 2017, or 3.21 percent of total exports, while imports of Chinese products to Azerbaijan reached $855 million, or 9.7 percent of total imports. According to figures by the Embassy of Azerbaijan to China trade turnover between the two countries reached $611 million in 2016. Imports amounted to $301 million while exports stood at $310 million.
China has invested over $770 million in the Azerbaijani economy, Mustafayev said at today's press conference on Azerbaijan-China economic relations. The minister noted that bulk of this investment was made in the oil industry.
"We need to work to increase investment in non-oil sector and work is being done for that” Report News Agency quoted him as saying. He also said that Azerbaijan expects that 10-15 percent of goods sent from China to Europe will pass through its territory.
Azerbaijan at a glance
Population: 9.7 million Area: 86,600 sq km (33,400 sq miles) Main exports: Oil, oil products (Azerbaijan is home to the world's first oil well, dug in the mid-1800s) GDP per capita: $17,400 (2017 est.) Unemployment rate: 6% (2017 est.) Inflation: 12% (2017 est.) Sources: UN, World Bank