Caspian Energy (CE): How did the establishment of the Caspian Asian Club evolve as a thought?
Samir Hajiyev, Chief Executive Officer of the Caspian Asian Club: As you know, the Caspian European Club whose goals and objectives are to promote a dialogue between the European business and entrepreneurs from the Caspian-Black Sea region countries. The process of this dialogue also included public bodies, international organizations and transnational companies. The experience and system have been fairly successful not only in Azerbaijan but also in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Turkey. In meetings with Azerbaijani and foreign entrepreneurs, as well as with heads of international financial institutes, diplomatic missions of foreign states, we have seen that interest in expansion of the geography of our activity exists indeed.
As a part of the development strategy of our organization, a decision on creation of the Caspian Asian Club was made on 26 January 2018. Basically, it is a mirror reflection of the activity carried out by the Caspian European Club but aimed only at the Asian markets. We are building relations with public agencies and diplomatic missions of the Asian countries, partnership with business communities representing the Asian markets centrally, as well as with certain large companies of the Asian market, which wished to become members of the Caspian Asian Club. Successful experience of management over the Caspian European Club that we gained, of course, helps us in this.
CE: You had been a member of the board and head of the legal department of the Caspian European Club before you took over the Caspian European Club…
Samir Hajiyev: Yes, it is right and at the same time I continue doing my work at the Caspian European Club. The thing is that it was at my initiative that the company I worked for became a member of the Caspian European Club in 2009.
As a member of the Club and realizing the opportunities its membership offered, I took a more active stance and participation in bringing in companies representing Asian and European regions into the Club. Besides, by reason of my professional activity and upon instructions from the management of the Club, I offer legal support to the Caspian European Club in a broad range of issues. In September 2016, I was elected into the Board of the Caspian European Club, and at the same time I was assigned to lead a re-established legal committee. I was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Caspian Asian Club on 14 February 2018.
CE: Could you please tell about the structure of the Caspian Asian Club?
Samir Hajiyev: Sectoral committees representing different industries are operating within the Caspian Asian Club. For two years since the establishment of the Caspian Asian Club, these committees will function together with the Caspian European Club, but at some point, they will be split. Our task is not to develop any certain economic sector. We see our tasks in a more comprehensive approach. We do not apply broader or lower emphasis on any industry.
Besides, every month we meet with the heads of the sectoral committees and their participants to discuss industry problems and the most efficient ways of their solution, maintaining an active dialogue with the relevant ministries and agencies.
The Board of Trustees is one of the innovations within the structure of the Caspian Asian Club. We offered the heads of diplomatic missions of the Asian countries to join the Board of Trustees, while economic affairs advisers were offered to join the Board of the Caspian Asian Club. I believe that it should play an extremely positive role both for the Caspian Asian Club and for the diplomatic missions of the Asian countries, one of the basic aims of which is to increase goods turnover between Azerbaijan and the countries they represent. In this case, the Caspian Asian Club should become the very platform which will help to address these tasks. I guess it sounds like “win-win” in English.
CE: What has been the reaction of the heads of diplomatic missions of the Asian states in Azerbaijan?
Samir Hajiyev: We are actively establishing a dialogue with representatives of diplomatic missions of foreign states in the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as with our diplomatic missions in the countries of the Asian continent. Since the establishment of the Caspian Asian Club, we have held fruitful meetings with heads of diplomatic missions of India, China, South Korea, Japan and Turkmenistan. I would like to note with satisfaction that we feel support and see a great interest in all directions, which makes us believe that we are on the right path. In particular, we see interest towards conduction of the Caspian Asian Forum in these countries. The reason is simple indeed and in the meantime is important: gathering together businesses representing Asian countries, and European business structures, we will definitely reach the goal we have set.
Synergy between the Caspian European Club and the Caspian Asian Club should be the core value of our whole organization.
We are also planning to release a special issue of the Caspian Energy journal dedicated to the activity of the Caspian Asian Club and development of investment opportunities both in Asian countries and in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. This, in turn, may be of interest to investors in Asia.
СЕ: What do you think about the economic reforms currently implemented under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev?
Samir Hajiyev: The current economic situation in Azerbaijan is more stable in comparison with that of the neighbouring countries. Favorable conditions have been created for business to develop. The investment climate and the existing legislation enable foreign investors to participate in the projects implemented in various sectors of the Azerbaijan economy. At the same time, I would like to note that the efforts towards improving the investment climate in the country are the ongoing process.
Currently all orders and enactments of the country's leadership is actively put into practice, and I believe that Azerbaijan will continue to show high economic growth rates.
It stands to mention that at present oil prices, in comparison with the past years, range within $60-$80 per barrel, which is also an additional boost to the economy. Azerbaijan does not only boost the oil sector, but also pays much attention to the development of the domestic non-oil sector upon which great expectations are placed.
The economic reforms carried out in Azerbaijan are encouraging the entrepreneurial activity, including in construction, transport, logistics, agriculture and tourism. The steps taken in these sectors are already having an impact on the development of the private sector in the country. Due to these sectors Azerbaijan will secure the development of the domestic non-oil sector.
Undoubtedly, these processes are getting a strong boost due to the political will and commitment of the President of Azerbaijan to secure an active development of the non-oil sector of the economy and create the most favorable conditions for social economic development in the regions of Azerbaijan.
The new composition of the Azerbaijan Government is a government of new formation that will contribute to an even greater and more active implementation of the economic reforms and achieving the objectives reflected in the strategic road map approved by Mr. President.
I would like to thank the new Government for supporting the activities of the Caspian European Club and the Caspian Asian Club. We held a series of meetings with the new members of the Government, formed joint working groups and developed a joint plan of action.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite business representatives reading us to attend the 7th International Caspian Energy Forum Baku – 2018 (www.caspianenergyforum.com), which is to be held in Baku on 20 September 2018 and bring together over 1,500 delegates from 50 countries.
The main source of economic growth in Azerbaijan still is the oil and gas sector. Although the government has already focused on diversifying its economy in the recent years, the pandemic in combination with the oil price crash showed how fragile the economy still is.
The audit sector also supports these measures. Supporting the measures taken in the country, the Chamber of Auditors recommended member audit organizations and independent auditors to delay the execution of audit contracts as much as possible and to work remotely as appropriate in order to prevent the risk of coronavirus.
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