By Kamila Aliyeva
Mechanisms created to expand and encourage exports of non-oil products in Azerbaijan are gradually bearing fruit.
This was stated by Vice President of Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) Yusif Abdullayev.
Abdullayev, talking to reporters on April 19, said that is important that these mechanisms not only exists, but brings concrete results.
"As you know, one of the main mechanisms was the promotion of ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ brand abroad. Almost all the tools within the framework of this mechanism are already involved, but not all demonstrate results, because some of them require significantly more time. For example, access to the Duty Free network. We met with airport representatives last year, but there is a certain time during the year when airports are considering applications. But most instruments [for encouraging non-oil exports] - organizing exhibitions, exporting missions, and so on - work and bring results. This pleases us and entrepreneurs," Abdullayev said.
The results of this work can be seen and tracked through statistical data, he noted.
"If we compare the indicators of the first quarter of the current year with the indicator of the same period of the previous year, the non-oil export of Azerbaijan increased by 8.6 percent. If you look at separate indicators, then the export of vegetables grew by 45 percent, fruit exports - by 20 percent, cotton exports - by 3.6 times. A similar growth was observed in the supply of milk and dairy products abroad. The export of wine grew by 29 percent, the export of juices - by 41 percent. These are real figures, real results, which show that the mechanisms are working," AZPROMO Vice-President said.
Currently, the work is underway to further promote ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ brand, according to Abdullayev.
"Furthermore, we are actively working on the products of ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ brand on the shelves at SOCAR's gas stations abroad - in Georgia, Ukraine, and Switzerland. In addition, we are developing joint plans with AZAL to provide Azerbaijani goods on board during flights. We are working on expanding the list of exported products, for which part of the costs are being returned, and will soon submit an expanded list to the government," he noted.
Touching upon the details of the return of part of the costs for the export of non-oil products (compensation is stipulated in the amount of 3-6 percent of the customs value of the goods), Abdullayev said that entrepreneurs actively use this mechanism.
"It is worth noting that only in the first quarter of 2017 we received 84 appeals, for which 520,000 manats was returned to exporters. And in total, since the introduction of this program in October last year, we received 140-145 appeals, and the amount of returned funds amounted to more than 1 million manats. It is good that since the beginning of this mechanism, only producers of wine and alcohol products received about 50 percent of the returned funds. Also, 130 investment promotion certificates have been granted to Azerbaijani investors since last year and the total amount of funds to be invested in the projects will amount to 1.25 billion manats,” he said.
This will lead to the opening of more than 8,000 new jobs, according to Abdullayev.
As of today, 92 trademarks of Azerbaijan are protected under the ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ brand, while the country’s total outputs nears 250 kinds of products in food, light, heavy and construction industries. The brand is highly successful in regional and world markets, and Azerbaijan’s local output meets all the necessary standards.
Azerbaijan has trade operations with 137 countries in the first two months of 2017, while it exported goods to 77 countries and imported goods from 132.
The foreign trade turnover during the reported period hit $3,288 billion, with exports worth $2,316 billion. Some 42.9 percent of trade turnover fell to share of the EU countries, 11.2 percent - the CIS member states and other countries of the world accounted for 45.9 percent.
In January-February 2017, the volume of the non-oil exports hit $ 176.2 million, which is 0.3 percent more compared to 2016 compared in real terms, according to the State Statistics Committee.
Meanwhile, Vusal Gasimli, the executive director of the Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communications stated that since the beginning of activity, Azexport portal has accepted orders for the supply of non-oil products worth $100 million.
"Most often through the portal orders of agricultural products - onions, potatoes, poultry meat, milk powder, and fruit – are accepted. I am glad that not only agricultural raw materials are in demand, but also ready-made local food products, including wine and brandy. Also, the orders for the supply of furniture and industrial goods, such as aluminum products are being made through the portal," the executive director said.
The website supports Azerbaijani exporters as due to the website, entrepreneurs get rid of the process of negotiations with potential customers, or from the need to analyze new markets, according to Gasimli.
"We also started preparing the Export Review, which will be updated on a monthly basis. The review will reflect information on the structure of non-oil exports of Azerbaijan, the countries where we deliver our products, as well as information on orders that are received by the Azexport portal," he added.
Integrating with the most popular electronic trading networks azexport.az, provides information about local Azerbaijani products, being a beneficial platform for sales in foreign and domestic markets. The representation of local production in international platforms, including Alibab.com, has increased almost 50 times after the launch of the portal.
Being available in the Azerbaijani, Russian and English languages, the portal acts as a single digital destination for trade, bringing together and connecting local entrepreneurs, international buyers and international investors. The portal offers fast and secure payment to VISA, Master Card and American Express cards owners.
The export promotion portal received export offers worth some $4.63 million in January 2017, while the bulk of the orders came from Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Bulgaria, Libya, Moldova and other countries.