IFC invests $500M in Azerbaijani private sector
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has been supporting the Azerbaijani private sector for over 20 years and has invested $500 million within this period, IFC Chief Regional Manager for the South Caucasus and Russia Jan van Bilsen told Trend.
Bilsen said that the investments worth $350 million were directed for trade financing. “The investments were also made in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline,” he added.
Bilsen stressed that the analysis of the recent economic processes observed in Azerbaijan testifies to the need for a bigger focus on the private sector rather than on natural resources.
“In particular, the project entitled “Formation of the investment environment and competition in agribusiness” was launched to increase the competition in the Azerbaijani agribusiness through IFC’s organizational support and financial assistance from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Austrian Ministry of Finance,” he said.
“This is an important step to maintain the development of the business environment and competition in the Azerbaijani agribusiness sector, which ultimately will have a positive impact on the development of the non-oil sector as a whole,” Bilsen noted.
He emphasized that by expanding economic development, Azerbaijan has more focused on the development of small and medium-sized businesses, which is in line with the regional plans of the World Bank (WB).
At the same time, Bilsen stressed the necessity to create equal conditions for all entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized businesses, which is an important component in shaping the business environment.
“The recent reforms carried out in Azerbaijan in the field of private sector regulation have yielded results, which has been outlined in the WB Doing Business 2019 report, where Azerbaijan ranks 25th,” he said. “Having carried out reforms in eight out of ten categories, Azerbaijan ranked first in the report in terms of the number of the conducted reforms.”
“The three-year project on the investment environment and competition in the agribusiness sector describes Azerbaijan as a loyal and reliable partner,” Bilsen added. “In turn, IFC will support all the efforts of Azerbaijan, which has great potential.”
He continued by saying that the corporation recommends to create an effective system based on checking and monitoring all the risks of the companies, which will lead to the improvement of inspection systems and regulatory impact assessment.
“The country’s agribusiness will receive advanced experience in the field of competition, which will reduce administrative and budgetary expenses,” Bilsen commented. “At the same time, this will create the conditions for maintaining public interest in this sphere and equal conditions for entrepreneurs.”
In his words, this project will further contribute to the flow of investments into the country, in particular, in the non-oil sector. The project will also help to improve the legal and administrative framework.
“This project is aimed at the development of agribusiness due to the big agricultural potential of Azerbaijan, which is intensively developing the export-oriented agricultural sector,” Bilsen said. “As a result of the implementation of this project, the competitiveness of Azerbaijani agricultural products will be improved. In this regard, it is necessary to eliminate current problems, improve regulation and the food safety system, which will lead to the creation of new job places.”
Bilsen said that, as the share of agriculture comprises 40 percent of Azerbaijan’s economy, IFC intends to fully support Azerbaijan for revealing its agricultural potential. According to him, the reforms have been carried out in Azerbaijan within the existing cooperation, and IFC is ready to contribute to the improvement of indicators and render support for the development of the country.