To give a boost to existing bilateral trade, economic relations, Azerbaijani companies will visit Qatar in the near future while a second meeting of the Qatar-Azerbaijan Economic Commission is also set to be held in Qatar this week, said Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the State of Qatar Rashad Ismayilov.
“In the upcoming bilateral economic, trade and technical commission meeting, many important agreements are to be signed which will enhance existing bilateral economic, strategic and political relations,” Ambassador Rashad Ismayilov said, adding that the meeting would be held on February 20, 2019 in Qatar.
In an interview with The Peninsula, the Ambassador said that the Republic of Azerbaijan and the state of Qatar established diplomatic relations in 1994, and in 2019 (this year) both countries were set to celebrate 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.
“Both States have taken many important steps to develop bilateral relations approximately in all fields. Heads of the States have paid reciprocal official visits several times. We have established intergovernmental economical commission to promote the economy and trade between the two countries.”
The Ambassador added: “We highly appreciate the position of Qatar in connection with the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. In the framework of international organizations, particularly in the UN and OIC, Qatar stands by Azerbaijan in adoption of the resolutions that demand liberation of occupied territories of Azerbaijan which still under occupation of Armenia.”
Talking on Azerbaijani community in Qatar, the Ambassador said that though it was small in numbers (around 350 people) but it was living a vibrant, active life and taking in various sports and cultural activities of the country.
He said that Azerbaijani community was living comfortable life in Qatar. “Qatar is a safe and friendly country therefore other Azerbaijani people also want to come here and hopefully their number will increase in coming times,” he added.
Regarding nature of bilateral trade relations, the Ambassador said: “Unlike the high level of political cooperation between the two countries, the volume of trade turnover between the two countries is not big. During the last 2 years the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Qatar figured $8m despite there exist more opportunities to expand trade ties.”
He said that currently Azerbaijan was mainly exporting food and agricultural products to Qatar.
Talking on future prospects of bilateral trade, the Ambassador of Azerbaijan said: “We hope that we will be able to increase the level of economic cooperation to the grade of political relations. We have more potential for this and now we are concentrating on using this potential.”
He said that both countries could cooperate in different fields of which energy, agriculture and tourism were on the top. “Azerbaijan is one of the most attractive countries for the foreign investments. There exists a legal base and all other necessary opportunities for investors in Azerbaijan,” the Ambassador added.
Regarding bilateral agreements, Ismayilov said that both countries had signed 32 agreements in the areas of protection of investments, tourism, education, information, agriculture, security, culture so far. “Actually we have a huge legal base to deepen our relations in different fields. We also have some draft agreements that we are working on.”
On ongoing Gulf crisis, the Ambassador said: “We hope that on this crisis between the brotherly and neighbor countries, we will find a solution as early possible by negotiations as it will promote regional security and cooperation.”
He said that despite Gulf crisis, life in Doha was going on as usual and all products were available. “The State of Qatar has diversified sources of imports through opening new markets to meet State’s internal requirements.”
Responding to a question on the role tourism could play in boosting ties between the two countries, Ismayilov said: “Azerbaijan and Qatar signed memorandum of understanding in the field of tourism in 2004. Both countries have simplified visa procedures for each other. There are 14 direct flights between Doha and Baku carried out by Qatar Airways per week.”
All these factors, he said, promote the tourism cooperation between both countries. “Azerbaijan as a country of old history, rich culture and fabulous nature is very attractive for the foreigners and also for the tourists from Qatar. In 2016, number of Qatari tourists came to Azerbaijan increased 5.5 times. In 2017, their number reached to 7 thousand and in 2018 also there was notable increase in the number of Qatari tourists.”
The Ambassador of Azerbaijan first congratulated the people and leadership of Qatar for winning Asian Cup. Talking on Qatar 2022 preparations, he said: “The preparation works to host 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are being carried out successfully and on high speed. We have no doubt that Qatar will be able to arrange the World Cup at the best level.”
To a question on Qatar’s initiatives on labor rights, the Ambassador said: “The State of Qatar is among the leading countries of the world in terms of growth and development, where construction is underway all over the country. In this context, foreign labor is very important for the country. During recent years, Qatar issued a number of regulations to simplify the issues of the labor force in the country. And these steps have been evaluated highly by the relevant international organizations.”