1st Afrika

Azerbaijani’s President visit to Egypt: A Step Towards Greater Economic Influence in the Middle East

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrived on an official visit to Egypt. In what areas can the two countries cooperate? 

– I think the Azerbaijani President’s visit to Egypt has its own important prerequisites, if we ask ourselves why now. Currently, Azerbaijan is rapidly increasing its political and economic influence in the world, and I think that shortly your country will become a very important economic player not only in the South Caucasus region but also in the Middle East region. Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Cairo is certainly related to this.

The second important reason that I see is the attraction of Azerbaijani investments to Egypt. The fact is that absolutely all advanced technologies in the world are in demand in Egypt, a special bet is made on this. And now the projects being implemented in Egypt are a vivid confirmation of this: these are projects in the field of railway and aviation infrastructure, other directions. If we talk about railroads only, it is both ordinary railroads and high-speed or monorail roads. Azerbaijan can be a serious player here along with other major investors, who are now investing literally billions of dollars in various Egyptian megaprojects.

The third important point echoing the second one: Egypt is a real treasure trove of oil and gas, new energy deposits are constantly being found here, and in this sense Azerbaijan can act as a demanded expert in this field for Egypt, as well as engage in their development.

In general, it should be said that today’s building of relations between Baku and Cairo is a very big positive step. In general, Egypt has a lot of its own developed technologies, highly developed light and medium industries, which, by the way, often compete on the world market with Turkish companies. All this may be of interest to Baku.

The visit, without exaggeration, can be called historic, because back in the Middle Ages there was an important trade and cultural relationship between Baku, Istanbul and Egyptian cities, and caravans traveled from city to city, making multi-day crossings. And I hope that the visit will end far from a dialog on mutual investments but will be the beginning of a great cultural interaction between Egypt and Azerbaijan.

– And what can Azerbaijan offer Egypt besides investments and its experience in the energy industry?

– As a specialist in the field of international business, I can note that Azerbaijan, in my opinion, is now a very promising partner for countries of any region, you are literally forming a whole layer with your companies, human resources, creative ideas to carry out a large commercial, trade, industrial and financial expansion to international markets. I predict tangible success for Azerbaijani business, and I am even ready to cooperate with your companies in this direction.

Certainly, it is felt that the potential of today’s Azerbaijan is much wider than the geography of its region, it has something to surprise the world, let’s say. These include brands from the light, chemical industry, innovations in all sectors of the economy – from food to clothing. A number of Azerbaijani companies from these spheres have already conquered the domestic market, they have established themselves very well in the markets of the post-Soviet space, particularly in Russia. However, it is felt that even here they are cramped, they have much more potential, they are striving to enter large international markets, but there are difficulties here. Experience is needed to promote their product in such markets, be it Arab, British or any other, it is not always enough, because it is very important that here Azerbaijani companies use the same competent marketing with their individual approaches, which was used in the future. So the Egyptian market is very promising in this direction for these companies, here they will have a place to prove themselves and something to offer to the local consumer.

In general, it is worth noting a very significant fact for the whole cooperation – Egypt is a real window for Azerbaijan to enter the market of Arab states, states of both North Africa and the whole of Africa. Both from the point of view of a successful, illustrative example to attract the interest of all countries in the region, and from the logistical point of view. Let me remind you that Egypt in its economic status today successfully copies the status of such Middle Eastern Singapore in terms of global, free trade, creation of free economic zones. The fact is that over the years of development, Egypt has accumulated a large baggage of duty-free trade agreements with almost 80 countries of the world, including the EU, India, Africa. And, roughly speaking, when you set up your enterprise in the Suez Canal zone, where there is a free economic zone, your products get to the EU and other major international markets free of duty. Moreover, all of this is much closer to Europe and our region than Singapore, so it is much more economically favourable.

“What about the productivity of the visit from a purely political point of view?”

“From this perspective, the convergence of Baku and Cairo comes at a very opportune time and is undoubtedly linked to the situation in the Middle East, its conflictual component, Mr. Aliyev’s personal ties with Middle Eastern leaders, which not every president can boast of, including the close cooperation formula between Baku and Moscow, which may be of interest to Cairo.

Of course, Baku’s current relations with Ankara are also very important. All three countries, as I noted above, have a long history. They were once long ago together and actively cooperated with each other. It is another matter that over many centuries we have been scattered along different vectors. Now these relations are being restored, we are again drawing closer, but in the current period, this factor is completely different. Therefore, I believe that the visit has extremely important geopolitical significance, it creates a number of new political formulas and configurations. In the context of global political instability, emerging alliances are very important, especially in the light of current relations between the East and the West.”

– In the context of the previous question, since we have already talked about conflicts and threats in the region, is military-technical cooperation between our countries possible?

– I think so. Egypt has experience in producing and selling its weapons. It is a major regional player, Egypt has a good industrial military base, rich experience in integrating various weapon systems, and of completely different designs, both of the Eastern and Western blocs. In the context of strengthening Azerbaijan’s defence capability, such experience may be of interest to Baku.

Speaking about the potential of the visit, I would like to note once again that Azerbaijan is a very interesting and pragmatic partner for Egypt, and the President of Azerbaijan never pays visits to certain countries just for formality and a check mark, so I expect a great return from the rapprochement of positions of Baku and Cairo, a lot of interesting news.



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