Azerbaijan will become a strong industrial country in the region
Q: How would you characterize the year 2014 for Azerbaijan in terms of economy?
A: The reforms carried out in Azerbaijan and the sound policies have given an impetus to the comprehensive development of our country. Today Azerbaijan is looking to the future with very high hopes and optimism. The key to this is our economic independence, our economic strength and political will. The year 2014 marked overall development in Azerbaijan.
Gross Domestic Product in Azerbaijan reached 53.7 billion manats in January-November of 2014, which means a 2.2% growth in comparison with the same period in 2013. Per capita GDP made 5,710.7 manats ($7,281.3). The value added in non-oil sector rose 6.5%, and its share in GDP increased from 56.9% to 59.8%.
The implementation of the state program for the development of regions has yielded fruitful results. More than 1.3 million jobs have been created in the country, with poverty reduced to less than 5%. More than 22 billion dollars have bee invested in the country in the past years.
Serious measures were taken towards strengthening the social security and improving welfare of the population. In the industrial sector, average monthly wages made 710 manats, in the construction sector 626.1 manats, in the transport sector 537.8 manats, in the information and communication sector 735.8 manats. In January-November 2014, the population`s income rose 4.7% in comparison with 2013 to make 33.6 billion manats, with per capita income making 3573.3 manats, a 3.4% growth against 2013.
Q: We would like you to highlight development of industry and prospects of the sector…
A: Development of industry is among key priorities of Azerbaijan`s economic policy. The Presidential Decree announced 2014 the Year of Industry. The Republic of Azerbaijan is probably best described as an industrial country with a fairly high developed agricultural industry. The manufacturing industry is primarily comprised of the oil and gas sector as well as the three fields-engineering, metallurgy and electro-energy. Under the Year of Industry special attention was paid to the development of industrial production, of course. A number of plants, factories and industrial sites have been opened. Considerable measures have been done to turn Azerbaijan into a strong industrial country in the region.
Under a relevant plan of action more than 20 industrial facilities opened in the country last year. At the same time more than 30 industrial enterprises are now being established.
In general, the industrial output has grown 2.7 times in Azerbaijan in the last decade. Investment in the industrial sector has increased more than two fold in the past 10 years. In 2003-2013 alone, nearly 500 industrial facilities were created in the country under the state program for the development of regions.
Q: The head of state approved the 2015-2020 state program for the industrial development. What are your expectations of this program?
A: The government of Azerbaijan has already started creating technological parks. With the potential to generate comparative and competitive advantages, industrial parks attract innovative businesses, leading to both more jobs and a larger tax base. They support start-ups, new enterprise incubation, the development of knowledge-based businesses, and offer an environment where local and international firms can interact with a particular centre of knowledge creation for mutual benefit.
The state program provides for the creation of new industrial facilities, including new areas and parks, the delivery of advanced technologies to the country.
These measures will allow Azerbaijan to become a strong industrial country in the region, with our rich currency reserves offering us additional opportunities.
Q: The President`s decrees and orders played an invaluable role in ensuring the economic development in 2014…
A: In 2014, President Ilham Aliyev signed a number of very important decrees and orders aimed at ensuring further development of the country`s economy. One of the most remarkable of such documents was the decree approving the second state program for the socio-economic development of the region. The adoption of the first program in 2004 played a special role in the development of the regions of Azerbaijan. The first five-year program managed to create a major change in the regions. After this, the second program was adopted.
These programs have played a very important part in regional development and in strengthening the economic potential of Azerbaijan as a whole.
As a result of the implementation of two programs, industrial production has grown 2.7 times. Whereas in the first years of the program our economy and industry grew largely on the account of the oil sector, the successful development of our country in recent years has been provided by the non-oil sector.
Q: How would you characterize the year 2014 for Azerbaijan in terms of energy policy?
A: First of all, it should be noted that 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Contract of the Century. Born thanks to national leader Heydar Aliyev`s strong political will at a very difficult time in 1994, this project fundamentally changed geopolitical picture of the region. And what is pleasant is that President Ilham Aliyev`s courageous and well-thought-out policy allowed Azerbaijan to found another international energy project in 2014. Realization of the Southern Gas Corridor project was a triumph of Azerbaijan`s new oil strategy. It was a critical step towards ensuring energy security in a broad area stretching from the Caspian Sea to Europe, boosting regional development and establishing a new international team.
Q: Will global decrease in oil price affect Azerbaijan?
A: Azerbaijan proved five years ago that it can withstand a crisis. In 2009, when most part of the world was hit by financial and economic crisis, Azerbaijan maintained its development rate. This was possible thanks to a perfect, well-thought-out economic model elaborated by the Azerbaijani government.
Today Azerbaijan is among leaders in terms of economic growth rate. For example, many countries experience economic recessions, in Europe, the growth rate is 0.5-1%, while in Azerbaijan this figure makes two or three percent. It is economic reforms that lie at the heart of these achievements.
President Ilham Aliyev has recently stated that Azerbaijan continues its development despite global crisis thanks to its unique development model. Falling oil price does not affect Azerbaijan, because, as the head of state noted, our economy is built on very strong foundations.
Decline in oil price on world markets will not affect the currency market in Azerbaijan too. Our national currency will remain stable. And one of the factors conditioning this is that our manat is an active monetary tool. Azerbaijan has very powerful financial potential.
Q: By the way what about the national currency rate? Will it be affected?
A: Experts of the world`s most authoritative economic research institutes and ranking agencies say that Azerbaijan`s manat is the most stable currency in the region. The crisis has hit currency markets in many European countries, but there have been no negative trends on the Azerbaijani currency market.
Despite falling oil prices maintaining the rate of manat will be among our key priorities. This will be achieved thanks to the government`s flexible monetary policy, the deepening of monetary market and other institutional and preventive measures. Strengthening macro and micro economic diagnostics of the monetary policy will help maintain the sustainability of the national currency.