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Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan Set New Priorities for Expanding Cooperation

By Ilham Karimli June 23, 2022

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President Aliyev was on a state visit to Uzbekistan on June 21-22 / President.Az

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s recent visit to the Central Asian country paved the way for Azerbaijan-Uzbekistan partnerships.

President Aliyev said the meetings and documents signed with the Uzbek authorities served to lay the foundation for the future comprehensive developments of relations between Baku and Tashkent.

“The visit is truly historic … The total number of [signed] documents is close to 20 now. The Political Declaration on the deepening of strategic partnership and building up interaction is of a very global nature. This is essentially a roadmap for our activities in the future,” the Azerbaijani president said in a joint press briefing with his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev on June 21, according to his press service.

“It reflects foreign policy priorities, expresses mutual support for our states' territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty, and defines specific tasks and goals in many areas of life.”

The documents signed by the presidents and ministers of the two countries covered multiple spheres from strategic partnership to defence, foreign policy, agriculture, economy, transport, digitalization, industry, combating illegal migration, and others.

Strengthening defence capabilities remains a top priority for Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan have this issue among top priorities on the bilateral agenda.

“Relevant instructions have been given. I think that additional steps will be taken in the direction of military cooperation, military-technical cooperation, as well as cooperation in the field of military education … There are external challenges that our countries and peoples have to face. Therefore, I think the exchange of experience and tangible cooperation in this area will be more important than ever,” President Aliyev noted.

The economic and trade cooperation between Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan is also one of the mainstream areas of growing interaction. According to Ravshan Nazarov, a political scientist at the Institute of State and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan, an expert of the International Institute of Central Asia, currently, 238 companies operate with Azerbaijani share in Uzbekistan, including joint ventures and enterprises with full foreign participation. There are 53 Uzbek companies operating in Azerbaijan, and their number continues to grow, Nazarov said.

Meanwhile, Baku-based economy analyst Vugar Bayramov said the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to nearly $111.9 million in 2021, increasing by 16 percent compared to 2020. During the pandemic period starting in 2020, the countries managed to maintain and increase the trade turnover to $82.3 million from $81 million in 2019.

In 2021, Azerbaijan imported goods worth $78.4 million from Uzbekistan, which is 32.5 percent more than the previous year. In the same year, Azerbaijan exported goods worth $ 33.5 million to the Central Asian state, increasing the total volume by 44.9 percent. TV sets, air conditioners, fresh fruits and vegetables, washing machines, paper and cardboard sanitary ware, shoes, and other were among the products imported from Uzbekistan to Azerbaijan. For its part, Azerbaijan supplied sugar products, ethylene polymers, and lubricants to the Central Asian country.

“We are observing dynamic growth in trade, industry and cooperation. We spoke critically and seriously about this today, about the fact that the turnover has increased six times [since the establishment of relations], but we should think critically about this. We have analyzed these issues very seriously,” Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said in a meeting with the Azerbaijani delegation led by President Aliyev in Tashkent on June 21.

“The number of joint ventures has increased four times. Among the successful landmark projects, one can note the launch of joint production of cars in Hajigabul and cooperation in the field of sericulture. However, the indicators are still very modest and point to the need for maximizing the existing huge potential of our mutually complementing economies.”

In 2021, the “Azerbaijan Machine and Equipment Manufacturers Association” and “UzAvtoSanoat” Company of Uzbekistan launched a new production line in the Hajigabul Industrial District in Azerbaijan. The joint venture rolls out American Chevrolet cars and Japanese ISUZU buses. About 5,000 units of Chevrolet cars and 1,000 units of ISUZU buses and pickups under four brands are produced annually in the first stage of the facility’s throughput schedule. The cars and buses produced by the company are marketed in both domestic and overseas markets.