Arab Gulf states have expressed an interest in investing as much as $500 million in Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector.
“Arabian investors are highly interested in Azerbaijani agricultural market and might allocate $100-500 million on development of this field from production to sales of agricultural products,” Abulfat Gojayev, head of the Open Joint Stock Company (OJSC) Stocking and Supply of Food Products, according to reports in Respublika newspaper on October 31.
“The interest in implementing joint projects, investments, [and] exports of agricultural products from Azerbaijan increased after meetings of our delegation with the leading companies and investment funds in Bahrain, in June of the current year,” Gojayev said.
Azerbaijan, the largest economy in the South Caucasus region with a gross domestic product (GDP) of over $37 billion, has been making development of non-oil and gas sectors of the economy a priority, as Baku looks to diversify its markets.
In 2016, President Ilham Aliyev approved a package of economic reforms, headlined the “Strategic Roadmap of the National Economy.” Along with agriculture, logistics and transportation, manufacturing, tourism, and communication and information technology were identified as key areas where Azerbaijan could be competitive, regionally and globally.
OJSC “Stocking and Supply of Food Products” was established in Azerbaijan in accordance with President Ilham Aliyev's order in April 12, 2016, main aim of which is stimulation of production and processing of agricultural products, ensuring the development of agricultural producers, improving the quality of foodstuffs, ensuring the effective use of budget funds, creating conditions for improving the social welfare of the population in the regions, and implementing centralized purchases of foodstuffs on the basis of state orders.
The total gross inflow of foreign direct investment into Azerbaijan, which gained independence when the USSR collapsed in 1991, amounted to $79.1 billion between 1995 and 2016, according to Azerbaijan’s official statistical committee. It remains the fourth largest economy in the Caspian region, coming ahead of Turkmenistan and trailing behind Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan.