President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan enjoys great respect on global scale, both politically, in economic sphere

Azerbaijan enjoys great respect on a global scale, both politically and in the economic sphere, in terms of business development, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in his opening speech at the conference dedicated to the results of first year implementation of “The State Program on socio-economic development of the regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2019-2023”.

“Our economy grew by 2.2 percent,” Ilham Aliyev said. “I think this is a good result. Oil prices are stable, but oil production in Azerbaijan has somewhat dropped. I believe that the 2.2-percent increase in the gross domestic product is a good result, especially when we consider that growth in the non-oil sector is 3.5 percent. Industrial production has increased by 1.5 percent. The reason for this is precisely oil production. However, the non-oil sector, which is our top priority, has grown by more than 14 percent.”

“A special role, of course, was played by the launch of giant industrial enterprises commissioned last year, as well as the development of small and medium enterprises and the improving business environment,” the Azerbaijani president noted. “The improvement of the business environment is also acknowledged by the World Bank. According to the Doing Business report, Azerbaijan was ranked among top 20 most reforming countries last year. Of course, all businesses are seeing and feeling this. Tax and customs administration and state support for businesses make themselves felt in the non-oil industry too, of course.”

“Thus, our non-oil industry, which has grown by more than 14 percent, means creation of jobs,” Ilham Aliyev added. “I should note that 98,000 jobs were created last year. I have repeatedly said this before and I want to say it again: this process should become permanent because the population of Azerbaijan is growing fast, so the economy, economic development, including job creation, should always be ahead of demographic development. Therefore, we must always pay special attention to this issue. However, it is true that the creation of every job requires major funds both from the state and the private sector. Because job creation doesn’t happen out of nowhere, it requires infrastructure, conditions and opportunities. Of course, the private sector as the main sector creating jobs speaks its word, as it should.”

“So such are our key economic indicators,” said the Azerbaijani president. “If we add to this the investments made in our country, the picture will be even more beautiful. Last year, $13.5 billion was invested in our country. Azerbaijan is a very attractive place for both foreign and local investors. A part of these investments was made by the state. And this is natural because public investment still plays an important role in economic growth, especially if we consider that a lot remains to be done in connection with infrastructure projects. Therefore, state, local and foreign companies have invested $13.5 billion in our country. I think this is a very good result.”

“The macroeconomic situation is quite stable,” Ilham Aliyev noted. “Inflation was only at 2.5 percent, while population incomes grew by 7.4 percent. So population incomes, as always, exceed the inflation. Our foreign exchange reserves increased by $6.4 billion. I can say that this is a record figure in recent years. Although our budget has reached a record high, we have increased our foreign exchange reserves again. It should always be the case. Even in the most difficult crisis years for us, when the price of oil on world markets fell fourfold, we managed to increase our foreign exchange reserves. However, last year’s growth of $6.4 billion is a reflection of our sound policies, of course. We are saving our money.”

“We invest public funds only in projects of strategic importance,” added the Azerbaijani president. “At the same time, we are receiving major funds from the management of our foreign exchange reserves. Many factors manifest themselves here because Azerbaijan enjoys great respect on a global scale, both politically and in the economic sphere, in terms of business development. My recent 14th participation in the Davos World Economic Forum, the negotiations held within the framework of the forum and the events I attended once again show that Azerbaijan is treated with great interest and sympathy.”

“More than 20 meetings were held,” Ilham Aliyev said. “I can say that all the meetings took place on the initiative of the opposite side. So I am saying this because there is indeed a lot of interest in the development of our country. The number of companies interested in working in Azerbaijan is growing. As you know, the companies participating in the Davos Forum are the biggest companies on a global scale. In other words, many criteria need to be met to enter the forum, and one of them is capitalization, of course.”

“Thus, the investment of major funds and the growth of our foreign exchange reserves once again indicate that we are on the right track and will continue to follow this course,” noted the Azerbaijani president. “Taking into account January, our foreign exchange reserves have already reached $52 billion. Over the past month alone, they have increased by $1 billion. This is our strategic reserve, which ensures our economic and, to a large extent, political independence.”