Ilham Aliyev: "We pay more attention to the non-oil sector”
President Ilham Aliyev called the outgoing year successful for Azerbaijan. Summing up the results of 2018 in an interview with Russia 24 TV Channel, he said that Baku had strengthened traditional relations with its main partners, primarily with neighboring countries. Aliyev focused on signing the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea: "This is a historical document, which more tightly links the Caspian countries."
The head of the Azerbaijani state also noted that the country was successfully developing from the economic point of view: “There are no potential risks inside Azerbaijan. As for the external potential risks, we manage to protect ourselves from them. Of course, the economic reforms were of great importance, and in my opinion, 2018 became a very important year from this perspective. Suffice to say, according to the World Bank’s Doing business project, this year, Azerbaijan climbed 32 steps up and was ranked 25th in the world. This means that the reforms of business facilitation, transparency, support for entrepreneurship give good results. This, of course, raises our investment rating, and this year we attracted $ 10 bln of investments. This gives investors confidence and also demonstrates our determination to continue the reform policy. The inflation rate was a little more than 2%. The incomes of the population grew by more than 9%. We have increased our foreign exchange reserves. We keep the external debt at an acceptable level, which is about 20% of GDP. A strategy has been developed for the coming years to reduce the external debt to 10% of GDP. I think it is quite real. I should also say in this regard that our foreign exchange reserves are almost 5 times higher than our foreign debt. That is, if desired, we can pay all creditors in one year maximum. That is, the macroeconomic situation is stable. We solved a lot of social issues. This year, about 6 thousand families of forced migrants were provided with new houses and apartments, somewhere around 30 thousand people. During the year, a small city was built for those who are the neediest part of our society. I can continue this list, but I think that what I have told already characterizes the main directions of our development."
Ilham Aliyev also stated that assessing economic indicators, the non-oil sector is separated from the oil sector in Baku: "The oil sector is a subject to the price fluctuations, it is also subject to a certain increase or decrease in the oil production. Azerbaijan is an active participant of the OPEC + program, and we have recently made additional commitments to reduce production, to show solidarity with all countries. Based on these factors, we always pay more attention to the non-oil economy and non-oil industry, and in this direction, I think, our results will be much better. Over the past 11 months, we see growth in the non-oil industry by more than 9%. This is the result, first of all, of our industrialization program, the development of the non-oil sector, small and medium-sized businesses, and the creation of the favorable conditions for farmers. Our farmers are exempted from all taxes, except for the land tax, and the state allocates large subsidies for fertilizer and fuel, and production so that we become a more significant country in terms of export of the agricultural products. The future development of our economy, of course, will always be supported by the oil and gas sector, but sustainable development will be associated with industry, agriculture and high technology. Among the significant events of this year, I would also mark the launch of the third satellite into orbit. Azerbaijan is already an active member of the international space club, we have 3 satellites, which also proves our intentions and successes.”