Why are Baku and Bishkek getting closer?
06 July 2021
ecently, the official visit of the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan Ruslan Kazakbayev to Azerbaijan ended. Unfortunately, the potential of joint humanitarian, economic, cross-border transit traffic has been used very little over the past 25-30 years.
Apparently, because Kyrgyzstan was more focused on cooperation with China, Russia, Kazakhstan and other neighboring countries. But Azerbaijan is still far from us. Now the trade and economic map of Eurasia is changing globally. We see how the Caucasus is turning into a transit hub for Eurasia. Very large transport corridors pass through the Caucasus, in the use of which China and Europe are interested. Therefore, it is not surprising that interest in the Caucasus is growing.
The states of Central Asia, in particular, Kyrgyzstan, have taken the path of strengthening their statehood, their institutions. Now we are strengthening cooperation of a humanitarian and economic nature with those countries with which we are culturally close. One of these countries is Azerbaijan. The stage has already come when you can completely build your own mutually beneficial, long-term policy.
The recent visit of the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan was aimed at establishing bilateral relations. During the visit, humanitarian and economic projects were touched upon. This is a new era of reasonable, rational mutual communication between the two countries.
The possibility of supplying fuels and lubricants and motor oils from Azerbaijan to Kyrgyzstan is being considered. Kyrgyzstan is experiencing a deficit in this matter, since it is 99 percent dependent on the export of oil and gas resources. In this direction, the construction of joint free economic zones is envisaged. Azerbaijan enters the Chinese markets. Kyrgyzstan is located on the border with China, there is powerful logistics with China. Accordingly, a free economic zone built in Kyrgyzstan with the participation of Azerbaijani businessmen can get a good exit to China. All this provides for the creation of an investment fund.
Kyrgyz-Russian joint investment funds are planned or are being created in Kyrgyzstan. Negotiations are underway in this direction with China and Turkey. De facto created with Uzbekistan. It is planned now with Turkmenistan, Hungary. It would be good to create such a fund with Azerbaijan as well. If there is a fund, it will give long-term cheap money for stable projects. And both Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan will be able to use this money to increase the export of Kyrgyz and Azerbaijani products to our countries.
Because such a fund, as practice has shown, is a good method to support your own business and export business. I think that a fund will be created here, on which tens of millions of dollars will be spent. It will gradually bear fruit. The main thing is that it is not aimed at making instant profits. And the issue of granting loans secured by property should not be put at the forefront. Because the entire business has long been pledged.
If we talk about the products that Kyrgyzstan can supply to Azerbaijan, then most likely we can supply light industry products. We are talking about clothes for children, women and men. We can also supply bulbs.
There are 114 enterprises with Kyrgyz-Azerbaijani capital operating in Kyrgyzstan. In many ways, I understand, the role of the diaspora is great in this. In economic terms, we have nothing to be proud of, the trade turnover is at a low level. But there are good prospects: investment projects, as well as projects related to Azerbaijani investments, including in the energy sector, possibly in the banking sector, the tourism sector, which will help strengthen our economic ties.
If Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan develop any large industrial projects, our countries can act as logistics hubs for the passage of Turkish, Chinese, Russian and European goods. In this case, there will be a need to create logistics centers for the storage of vegetables and fruits.
If we talk about the prospects of Bishkek in transport projects, unfortunately, Kyrgyzstan does not have any serious state and private resources for the construction of any transport hubs abroad. But Kyrgyzstan is a powerful transit hub, providing for the supply of goods from Central Asia and the Caucasus to China and from China to the CIS. Even to the Middle East.
Azerbaijan annually becomes attractive for the construction of railway hubs. Transport and air traffic in the country is developing. In this regard, Bishkek and Baku will cooperate. The main thing is that there is a developed infrastructure and political and economic interaction between our governments.
The author is the director of the Institute for Social and Political Research, a kyrgyz political analyst.
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