Baroness Nicholson: UK intends to expand economic co-op with Azerbaijan

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The UK and Azerbaijan enjoy strong bilateral political and commercial relations, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy Baroness Emma Nicholson said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

“The UK is one of the largest investors in Azerbaijan and there are more than 500 UK companies based in Baku. BP is the largest foreign investor in Azerbaijan and has helped the Azerbaijani Government transform their economy, establishing a solid foundation to build business success,” she said.

Baroness Nicholson stressed that over the past two years, the bilateral relations have been made even stronger with the establishment of a Joint Intergovernmental Commission (JIC) between the two countries and a UK-Azerbaijan Partnership Program in the Oil and Gas Sector.

She noted that this has resulted in 27 new collaborations being formed between UK and Azerbaijan companies.

“Both Azerbaijan and the UK are keen to build on this and spread into other sectors. Following my most recent visit to Azerbaijan in February 2018, I will be taking forward a number of initiatives, including collaboration in health, agriculture, space, aviation and tax reform,” Baroness Nicholson said.

Baroness Nicholson said that at the last meeting of the JIC in December 2017, there was a push to broaden the UK-Azerbaijan trade collaboration in a number of sectors.

“The UK is supporting these efforts by increasing the UK Export Finance offer from £1.8 billion to £2.8 billion this year, helping ensure no viable export business fails due to a lack of finance. The oil and gas sector is significant in Azerbaijan and the UK is fully supportive of BP’s operations and the energy sector in the country. The UK Department for International Trade runs a Partnership Program in the sector, which is helping create joint ventures and new business opportunities. We are also looking at opportunities in the renewable sector, including wind power, solar, and hydro,” she said.

Asked about cooperation between the two countries after Brexit, she said the bilateral relations will continue to develop.

“Post-Brexit, I see our relationship continue to develop as the UK builds ties around the world. The Caspian region is one area of great opportunity as Azerbaijan makes the most of its strategic geographic position, energy resources and transport links,” Baroness Nicholson said.

In conclusion, Baroness Nicholson also touched on the Southern Gas Corridor project, noting that it will contribute significantly to the region’s and Europe’s overall energy security and supply.