Azerbaijan Courts Mexican Investment in Liberated Territories
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
With more than 10,000 square kilometers of recently liberated land in need of reconstruction, Azerbaijan is an ideal place for Mexican entrepreneurs to invest in infrastructure and other development projects, that nation’s deputy minister of foreign relations, Elnur Mammadov, said Thursday, May 4.
“Our bilateral commercial and economic relations with Mexico are just not high enough,” Mammadov said during a press conference in Mexico City’s Presidente InterContinental Hotel during his three-day visit to Mexico to attend the third round of high-level bilateral political consultations.
“Our trade (and economic) ties have yet to reach their full potential, but with (Azerbaijan’s master plan) for the restoration of the liberated territories (regained from Armenian occupation during the 44-day Patriotic War in late 2020), there is a great opportunity for Mexican investors to help in the reconstruction.”
After Azerbaijan reclaimed its Karabakh territories, which Armenia had occupied illegally in stark violation of international law for 27 years, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev immediately began reconstruction projects in the region, so far investing more than $6.6 billion in restoration, with the intention of repatriating 800,000 Azerbaijanis who were displaced by the Armenian occupation, a program that has already begun.
But Mammadov said that there is still much to be done, since the massive region, which represents a full 20 percent of the Caucasian republic’s total territory, was essentially demolished during the Armenian occupation.
“There are many opportunities for investors in a range of projects, including the construction of highways, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure projects to help revitalize the economy of the Karabakh region,” Mammadov said.
Potential investment opportunities for Mexico likewise exist in the agro-industrial sector and for small- and medium-sized corporations, he said.
In order to attract new international investment, the Azerbaijani government has established a series of incentives and favorable conditions for entrepreneurs in industrial parks in Agdam and the Araz Valley, both within the areas of the liberated territories.
The Azerbaijani official also said that new areas of binational trade are yet to be explored, with combined two-way commercial interchange amounting to a piddling $65 million last year.
Mexico’s exports to Azerbaijan currently consist mostly of cars and auto parts, beverages (tequila and beer) and cane sugar, he said, while Baku sells Mexico jet fuel.
But Mammadov said that the Mexican Embassy in Baku is currently organizing a commercial mission to Mexico for later this year that will explore possible new portfolios of trade and joint-venture investments.
Mammadov said that during his meetings with Mexican Undersecretary of Foreign Relations (SRE) Carmen Moreno Toscano earlier in the day, he and she had discussed these opportunities for Mexican investment, as well as addressing the need to give new impetus to bilateral political and economic relations.
He said that Mexico and Azerbaijan are currently working on finalizing 19 bilateral accords and memorandums in the areas of investment security, the avoidance of double taxation, customs, education, tourism and other issues.
Mammadov also noted that his government has recently assumed a more prominent position in the global arena, in part because of a massive natural gas pipeline project to Europe, which he said would nearly double his country’s export potential to European Union countries from its current 12 million cubic meters a year to 20 million cubic meters a year by 2027.
The Russia-Ukraine War
Asked about his government’s policies regarding Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, the Azerbaijani official was diplomatic, pointing out that while Baku maintains ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, the Aliyev administration has expressed both its solidary and support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Moreover, he said, since the Russia-Ukraine War began in February 2022, the Azerbaijani government has donated more than 20 million euros in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including providing free gasoline for ambulances.
Mammadov concluded by saying that his government is ready and willing to normalize relations with its former archenemy Armenia, as long as Yerevan agrees to five basic principles: the mutual recognition by sovereignty and territorial integrity; the mutual confirmation of the absence of territorial claims to each other’s territories; the refraining from threats to and force against each other’s security; the delimitation and demarcation of the state border; and the opening transport and communications.
So far, he said, Armenia has refused to comply with those principles.