France and Azerbaijan need to improve trade balance, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian told Trend.
"I believe the potential of trade between our two countries is not fully realized and we need to work towards an increase in our exports and imports. With a total of 750 million euros in 2019, of which 600 million of oil imports, our trade imbalance needs to be improved. This can be done by developing further a number of sectors in which French companies offer a real value added for Azerbaijan," he said.
In this regard, Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized such spheres as energy, of course with the development of new oil and gas fields as well as renewable energy projects.
"I understand that your Ministry of Energy has ambitious plans for new wind and solar power stations. I am disappointed that French companies were not selected for the pilot projects despite being world leaders in this area. But I am sure that more will be done in the near future. Agriculture and environment are also sectors were our expertise can help boost our economic relations.As I just mentioned, energy is an important area of collaboration. Total is indeed present and will soon be in a position to participate in Azerbaijan’s gas exports. There is plenty more that they could do to benefit your industry and we hope new agreements can be signed," the minister added.
Talking about the results of cooperation between Azerbaijan and France last year, Jean-Yves Le Drian noted that 2019 was a fruitful year for the bilateral economic relations.
"Our embassy organized the visit of an important business delegation of Medef (the major national business organisation in France) led by its well-known President Monsieur Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux. A delegation of 43 French companies, both large and medium-sized. They met at the highest level of government and participated in a vast France-Azerbaijan Business Forum with Azpromo. Equally important, our Minister of Finance and Economy, Monsieur Bruno Le Maire, met with President Ilham Aliyev and with ministers in Baku last summer and discussed a number of issues relating to our economic partnership covering 5 priority sectors, i.e. environment, transport, energy, security and finance. Indeed a very active year which I hope will be followed by the implementation of many bilateral projects," he said.
As for the new partnership agreement, which is being negotiated between the European Union and Azerbaijan, Jean-Yves Le Drian pointed out that France and Azerbaijan will both benefit from the partnership agreement.
"I do hope Azerbaijan will soon be in a position to sign it. The trade section of this agreement will be an important step towards boosting trade and investment between our countries. Of that I am sure and hope for a quick resolution," he said.
The French minister also touched upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"On this point, I would refer you to the 30 January 2020 Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group made in Geneva, in which the Co-Chairs reiterated notably the need for creativity and a spirit of compromise to achieve a fair and lasting peace," he concluded.
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