By Aynur Jafarova
Azerbaijan, known in the world as an oil and gas rich country, aims to develop its non-oil industry.
Experts believe that today the post-Soviet country with its high-quality products has a good chance to strengthen its position in the foreign markets, as it strives to increase export of its both organic agricultural and food products, as well as industrial goods.
In recent years, Azerbaijan has significantly decreased import of food products.
The share of food products in the overall amount of imported goods of Azerbaijan is only 12-14 percent; the rest goes to construction material, vehicles and various equipments. This means that the country is no longer dependent on imported food products.
The statistics show that Azerbaijan has increased export of agricultural and food products in recent years. The country exported oils of vegetable and animal origin worth $227,883 million in 2013. For comparison, exports of these products increased by 2.75 percent in 2012.
Last year, Azerbaijan exported fruit, walnuts and nuts, as well as citrus fruits worth $173.5 million. Also, export of sugar and confectionery increased by 13.46 percent to $243.84 million in 2013.
The increase was observed not only in the amount of agricultural and food products, but also in industrial goods. Export of plastic and plastic mass increased by 12.2 percent and reached $ 122.103 million in 2013.
Nariman Agayev, the Chairman of the Sustainable Development Research Center, told local media that first of all, there is a huge capacity to expand export of sugar and products produced from it.
“By conducting relevant works in this direction, it is possible to increase the export by 100 percent,” he said.
Agayev also said another promising direction is increasing the export of agricultural products, as well as goods that are made of polymers.
Chairman of the Center for Economic and Social Development, Vugar Bayramov says by expanding non-oil sector, it is important to identify promising export sectors.
He said the “Azerbaijan 2020: Vision into the future” concept also envisages the identification and support of industry sectors with export prospects.
Touching upon the sectors with export capacity, Bayramov said the agricultural sector can play an important role in ensuring food security of the country by expanding its export capabilities.
“In particular, after the economic war between Russia and the West, Azerbaijan has been provided with a chance to enter the Russian market. The advantage of Azerbaijani products is that they are more organic,” he said.
Today, Azerbaijani farmers have a unique chance for increasing export of agricultural products to Russia as Russia has opened its state borders to Azerbaijani farmers and created an opportunity to ease their access to its markets. Also, the purchasing power of the Russian population is high and it paves the way for earning huge money for farmers.
Also, the chemical industry products enjoy a high export capacity.
“In particular, special attention should be paid to the delivery of chemical industry products to the Russian and Kazakh markets,” Bayramov noted.