Mr. Anar Imanov, Azerbaijani ambassador
VET spoke with Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Vietnam, H.E. Anar Imanov, about the economic cooperation between the two countries over recent years and what the future holds.
Can you tell us about the economic links between Azerbaijan and Vietnam?
Azerbaijan used to supply high-quality oil equipment to Vietnam. We hope in the future we will continue to supply this equipment to our Vietnamese partners rather than them buying it from third countries. It is easy to buy directly from Azerbaijan, and I hope that this will be the case.
Other fields where we can build cooperation are in agriculture and tourism. Tourism is one of the most interesting fields and can actively be developed.
What goods have been exported to Vietnam and imported to Azerbaijan? What have been the highlights of the two countries’ recent cooperation?
Azerbaijan exported oil equipment to Vietnam.
The Intergovernmental Commission for Economics, Trade, Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Vietnam and Azerbaijan is to be established. The co-chairs of the commission are Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade and Azerbaijan’s Minister of Energy. Members of the commission include deputy ministers. When the commission begins it will push economic cooperation forward.
We also have different agreements between ministries, for example the ministries of culture and tourism and industry and trade. Some of these agreements are still in the draft stage and I hope they will be signed soon.
Azerbaijan is an industrialized country with huge oil reserves. However, in 2013 your government set a target of economic development without a dependence on the oil and gas industry. How has that policy been implemented in the last two years?
We have been very successful because we are indeed less dependent on oil. First of all, revenue from selling oil has been used to finance infrastructure projects. Many roads and airports have been built. A number of companies working in the transport field are developing. We are also building more factories to supply everything people may need and are developing our agriculture sector. We are trying to achieve the goal of providing for all our needs internally, importing less and producing more.
How do you view the potential for petroleum cooperation between Vietnam and Azerbaijan in the years to come? Could there be joint ventures to exploit crude oil in either country?
Cooperation in the field of oil between Azerbaijan and Vietnam already exists. During Soviet times many Azerbaijani specialists took active part in establishing Vietnam’s oil industry and in discovering the White Tiger and Dragon oil fields, which have played a crucial role in Vietnam’s energy industry. Furthermore, the first General Director of Vietsovpetro was from Azerbaijan, and he contributed to developing the oil industry here. Many Vietnamese students also used to study oil in Azerbaijan and now hold senior positions at PetroVietnam, Vietsovpetro and other oil companies. In 2010 an agreement was signed on strategic cooperation between the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and PetroVietnam.
Based on these traditional ties, bilateral cooperation in the field of energy is developing strongly. During the state visit by President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev to Vietnam in May 2014 and the official visit by State President Truong Tan Sang to Azerbaijan in May 2015, heads of state emphasized the importance of developing bilateral cooperation in the field of energy and instructed relevant government agencies to work in this direction. During State President Sang’s visit, “The Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Oil and Gas Industry between SOCAR and PetroVietnam” was signed in Baku. I am confident that in the future we will see continued cooperation between the two countries in the oil field.
What exports could both sides increase?
There is major potential for cooperation in the field of agriculture. Export of agricultural products from Vietnam should be enhanced, especially rice, coffee, cashew nuts, and pepper. There could also be fruitful cooperation in seafood and textiles as well. For Azerbaijan, besides crude oil, oil equipment as well as defense industry products could be bolstered.
How has economic and trade cooperation been between the two countries to date?
The existing global economic circumstances, especially the falling oil price, have also affected economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Vietnam. Compared to the last three years, trade turnover is in decline. Economic cooperation is still to meet potential, but I am confident that the Intergovernmental Commission will play a crucial role in developing the cooperation between the two countries in the years to come.