Our Analytics 29 january — 14:58

Ilham Aliyev announced, and world analysts confirmed (After Davos)

274

BY ELNUR MAMMADOV, ECONOMICS SECTION

Another World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, is over. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who attaches special importance to this event, took part in this grandiose forum, which is attended by leading business leaders, political leaders, thinkers, public figures and journalists, who determine the current trends in the development of the world order. Members of the WEF are over one thousand large companies well-known globally.

The Davos Forum, at which President I.Aliyev has been a long-standing and habitual guest, is yet another platform for determining the role and place of Azerbaijan not only in regional but also geopolitical processes. And how effectively the head of state uses the forum is shown by the number of meetings of I.Aliyev: over 30 of them.

Of course, holding dozens of meetings with heads of states, governments and leading companies of the world within a matter of days is not an easy task. Journalists, who at least once accompanied the head of state during his foreign visits, can well attest to this. Even after three such meetings a day, the results of which are communicated to the public in just a few lines of a dry official text, everyone is dropping with fatigue: even the special security guards that have been specially trained. But the president, regardless of all external factors, should always look fresh and be prepared for difficult negotiations and the most unexpected issues. But in addition to bilateral, the head of state had meetings in more extended formats. Suffice it to say that, within the framework of the WEF 2018, he took part in the session 'The meeting of leaders on the policy of the oil and gas industry' and other events.

However, the greatest attention of the forum participants was attracted by the speech of President Ilham Aliyev during the panel discussions on the topic 'Strategic prospects: Eurasia.' Noting that there are no internal threats and risks in Azerbaijan, the president presented the country as a reliable and promising partner in the Eurasian space, both politically and economically. Although official Baku is still widely perceived abroad as an oil country, the Azerbaijani leader immediately emphasided the successful development of the non-oil economy, stressing that attention to this particular sector of the economy has become a strategic task of the government in recent years.

'When the price of oil fell, I announced that the post-oil period had begun in Azerbaijan, that we should forget about oil and gas,' he told his partners in the discussion. 'We must continue the implementation of existing oil and gas projects, but as the main source of income, attention should be paid to technology, innovation, industry, entrepreneurship, agriculture.'

That's right, in his dominant thesis, the president outlined his vision for the further progress of the country's economy. In addition, serious reforms have already been made in this direction, remarkable results have been achieved. Last year the non-oil sector of the economy grew by 3%, industry by 4%. There is a process of diversification of the economy going on, and, apparently, the government does not plan to halt on the achieved successes. For greater persuasiveness, it should be emphasised that in 2017, despite the decline in oil prices, Azerbaijan earned $4.5 billion extra, thus significantly increasing its strategic reserves.

Such an introduction gives grounds to talk about the main goal of the president's participation in the World Economic Forum: first of all, it is attracting investments for large-scale projects, especially in the field of high-technology production, as well as the opportunity to present Azerbaijan as a reliable, stable and promising partner. And it is not by chance that, one thinks, that at the very beginning of his visit to Davos, the head of state had a meeting with the founder, chairman of the supervisory board and executive director of the world's largest investment company, the American company Black Rock, Lawrence Fink. During the meeting, the American investor said with satisfaction that he would visit Azerbaijan in the near future and get acquainted once again with the investment opportunities of the country.

True, some experts do not rule out the president's strengthening of his international positions on the eve of the forthcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan. But we think that this point should not be particularly emphasised, since Ilham Aliyev has a very high level of support among the population of his country, with whom the last word in the elections remains. At the same time, the statements of the head of state that as a regional leader Azerbaijan changes the transport and energy map of the world is a serious fact of today's reality of the region's development that should attract the attention of politicians of the highest rank. And the president's repeated statements on the development of the non-oil sector of the economy speak not only of further strengthening of stability in the country, but also the development of high technologies, and this requires investments and active involvement of Western capital. Azerbaijan, of course, is a self-sufficient country, which itself can finance the most ambitious projects, but it is sometimes more profitable to attract foreign investments. By the way, the president's desire to hold the World Expo 2025 in Baku is also aimed at at this.

No matter how much it was said about other spheres of the economy, to remove the oil factor of Baku from the agenda is still an unthinkable thing. Yes, and why write off the industry, which for a long time will bring large subsidies to the country in foreign currency. It is no accident that President Aliyev held an important meeting with the OPEC secretary general and invited him to visit the country. The meetings of the head of state with the European commissioner for energy union issues, with the Saudi minister, the heads of the world's largest oil companies, many of which are involved in Azerbaijan, were also devoted to discussion of specific issues.

Yes, Ilham Aliyev's visit made a vivid impression on the participants of the WEF. True, this time it was not without the attempts of various pro-Armenian experts to throw a fly into the Azerbaijani ointment. But fate, or rather the international rating agency Standard & Poor's brought their insinuations to naught.

In unison with the Davos forum, S&P forecasted prospects for economic development: thus, Azerbaijan's GDP growth in the next four years will average 3.3%; by 2021, nominal GDP will increase from AZN 70 bn (41 billion dollars) to AZN 99 bn (52 billion dollars). The per capita GDP this year will be 4.6 thousand dollars, in 2019 - 4.8 thousand dollars, in 2020 - 5 thousand dollars, and in 2021 - 5.1 thousand dollars. The agency confirmed the long-term and short-term sovereign credit rating of the country in foreign and local currency at BB+/B, and the outlook on the rating changed from negative to stable. And inflation, according to the agency's expectations, will drop to 5% by 2021. This year, inflation is projected at 8%, and in the next 3 years - at 5%.

Moreover, by the end of this year S&P predicts the execution of the state budget with a surplus: that is, the state's budget position for the first time since 2014 will return to a surplus. This year, the budget surplus will make up 1.5% of GDP, in 2019 - 0.6%, in 2020 - 1.1%, and in 2021 - 1.7% of GDP. The agency explains the gradual improvement of the state budget indicators by the recovery of the economy's growth rates and relatively high oil prices. That is, according to S&P calculations, in the next few years the Azerbaijani economy will move forward, gaining billions of revenues every year. By the way, such are the forecasts of the IMF, as well as of many other international financial structures.

Yes, it is difficult to find better confirmation of the statements of President Ilham Aliyev. However, the theses and statements of the head of state do not need to be confirmed by rating agencies. However, in order to bring down the unfriendly experts and journalists, the published report of S&P clearly demonstrated the new spurt of the Azerbaijani economy. One of the leading international rating agencies will not be blamed for either bias or bribery. After all, its activities cover almost all countries of the world, including Armenia. And no country can reproach S&P for deliberately distorting reality, additions and dilettantism. So, please accept the truth about Azerbaijan as it is. Even if it violates someone's political opportunistic interests...

Latest news