Bern. 11 July. REPORT.AZ/ “Azerbaijan’s strategy aimed at reducing its strong orientation on oil and gas is creating new business opportunities for Swiss investors in a variety of sectors including infrastructure, banking, information technology, light industry manufacturing, food processing and clean tech.”
Report was told by Dr. Dorit Sallis, Director of the Joint Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-CIS, which represents Azerbaijan in Switzerland.
According to her, the sectors which Swiss companies are most interested in the Azeri economy include the infrastructure, transport and telecommunications sector.
Azerbaijan is Switzerland’s most important trading partner in the southern Caucasus and has been Switzerland’s biggest crude oil supplier. The diversification of its economic structure opens up new opportunities for bilateral trade, investment and cooperation.
Relations between Switzerland and Azerbaijan rest on several pillars – energy policy, cooperation with international financial institutions, development cooperation – and are characterized by open exchanges.Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased steadily. In 2015, Swiss exports – especially watches, jewelry products, machinery, railway equipment and pharmaceuticals – reached an all time high, while imports from Azerbaijan – primarily fossil fuels – followed a similar trend. Switzerland is among the 10 largest investors in Azerbaijan. Numerous companies (including ABB, Stadler Rail, Glencore, Holcim, Novartis, Panalpina, Roche, Schindler, Sika or Sulzer) are currently active in Azerbaijan with representative offices, production sites or joint ventures employing more than 800 people. Special attention is drawn to the recent contract for delivering railway carriages to the State Railways of Azerbaijan by Stadler Rail.
What’s more, an international consortium with Swiss participationis involved in the "Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)" project that will transport Azerbaijani natural gas via Turkey, Greece and Albania to Italy by the end of the decade.
Azerbaijan is increasingly interested in Switzerland as a location for business; the Azeri government views Switzerland as a gateway to the EU. Economic relations are intense and there are no major problems. Several member of the Swiss government could witness on visits to Azerbaijan that Switzerland enjoys a very positive image in this country. Reciprocally the Azerbaijani state-owned company SOCAR operates in Switzerland. In July 2012, SOCAR Energy took over the ESSO Switzerland network with 160 petrol stations, which it operates under the SOCAR brand. SOCAR Trading, the international marketing and development arm of SOCAR, is headquartered in Geneva.
Statistics show that the Swiss and Azerbaijani economies have sector-specific strengths and are complementary. A WTO membership or successful business projects in the field of energy supply or infrastructure would further improve the climate for mutual confidence and help to more effectively tap the huge potential for bilateral trade, investment and cooperation. Nevertheless, there is a huge potential to be tapped. As Arzu Aliyeva, chairperson of the Association of Friends of Azerbaijan and coordinator of the Azeri Diaspora in Switzerland puts it: “It makes me proud to see famous Azeri companies active abroad. As for the situation of Azerbaijan and Switzerland,I am impressed about the growing economic relations between the two countries, opening opportunities of cooperation in other fieldssuch as culture too.”