The Azerbaijani-Qatari Joint Working Group on Investment will further boost the bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries, Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Economy Sevinc Hasanova has said.

In an interview with the Qatari media, Hasanova said that the relations between the two countries have developed steadily over the past years. She stressed that the Intergovernmental Commission between Qatar and Azerbaijan has been an effective platform for the cooperation since its first session held in 2017 in Baku.

“In February last year, the Commission met in Doha for the second session and discussed cooperation on a wide range of areas such as tourism, transport, trade and investment, environment, education, culture, youth and sports. This list is a proof of the breadth of bilateral cooperation between Qatar and Azerbaijan,” Hasanova said.

She added that to support and complement existing contacts, the Joint Working Group for Investment has been set up as part of the Intergovernmental Commission. This Working Group convened for the first time in October 2019 for a series of productive discussions on current levels in investment, trade and business relations. 

“We are expecting the Joint Working Group on Investment to generate more interest towards Azerbaijan within the Qatari business community and facilitate further investments from Qatari companies and individual investors,” noted Sevinc Hasanova.

Noting the good potential of the current trade level between two countries to grow, the Deputy Minister said that Qatar and other Gulf countries are among Azerbaijan’s target markets. We are ready to work in this direction with our partners, she said.

Hasanova reminded that in 2018-19, Qatari investment in Azerbaijan amounted $67.1m.

“We have identified the following sectors as priorities for the attraction of foreign investments: infrastructure, with a major focus on public-private partnership, agriculture, food production and processing, alternative and renewable energy, chemical industry, including petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, metallurgy and machinery,” added Sevinc Hasanova.

She emphasized that among other areas of potential interest, tourism was of particular interest as Azerbaijan has lately become an attractive and sought-after destination amongst tourists from the Gulf countries.

“Given Azerbaijan’s natural beauty and diverse landscapes, as well as a rich history, tradition and cuisine, we do have amazing opportunities in tourism indeed. Investing in Azerbaijan’s tourism industry will be encouraged by the governmental support which may include various concessions and discounts on tax and customs duties,” Sevinc Hasanova said.

The Deputy Minister also said that Qatari investors wishing to start a business in Azerbaijan can benefit from the assistance provided by the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), which serves as a one-stop-shop for foreign investors.

“Our taxation system is aligned with the best international practices. Thanks to the “one-stop-shop” principle of business registration and user-friendly digitalized registration processes” she added.  

Sevinc Hasanova mentioned that Azerbaijan is ranked among the top 20 global economic reformers, according to the latest edition of the World Bank’s Doing Business report.

“We have also introduced exemptions and privileges for micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as well as entities involved in non-oil export activities. Almost there is no income tax on the labour force in the non-oil private sector,” said Deputy Minister.

Noting SOFAZ’s activity in Qatar, she stated that this is noteworthy in light of investment cooperation and a kind of proof of trust in Qatar’s financial markets.

Global diversification across asset classes, sectors, regions and countries is the cornerstone of SOFAZ’s investment philosophy and such the size and depth of the financial markets in the scope of the global financial markets play a vital role in defining the total exposure to any specific country.