BAKU (Hurriyet)—The trade volume between Turkey and Azerbaijan should be higher, Turkish Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan said in a meeting Wednesday at the Azerbaijan-Turkey Business Forum in Baku.
Speaking with Turkish investors and businesspeople in Azerbaijan’s capital, Caglayan said Turkish businesspeople have a total of $6 billion invested in the country.
“This figure is $3 billion in Turkey for Azerbaijani businesspeople. The cooperation between the two countries should increase,” he said. “With this aim, some extensive studies will be started. In a short period of time, trade relations will be boosted.”
While in Azerbaijan, Caglayan held talks with related ministers, as well as with Turkish investors, in order to develop bilateral cooperation.
Lifting visa requirements between the two countries and problems with customs, social security, taxes and logistics were the main issues discussed at the meetings.
“Turkey lifted visa requirements for Azerbaijanis three years ago,” said Caglayan. “We have told Azerbaijani officials that they should do the same for Turkish people.”
Customs also poses a major problem, the minister added. “Azerbaijanis wait for imported products from Turkey for 50 days at customs,” he said. “Turkey, meanwhile, accepts goods in 14 days at the most. The world standard is 11 days. This situation is crucial for Turkish exporters. Each passing day causes a contraction of bilateral trade volume.”
Suggesting that a free-trade zone could be established between the two countries, Caglayan declared himself “the marketing partner of every Turkish company” and said, “We told Azerbaijani officials that we can provide any kind of technical support for such a zone.”
Speaking at the same meeting, Yavuz Keles, the chairman of the Azerbaijan-Turkey Industrialists’ and Businessmen’ Association, said: “There are some problems that can be easily solved. But there are chronic problems also.”
According to Keles, the main problems concern visa requirements and residence and work permits. “This causes great psychological pressure on Turkish businesspeople,” he said. “Customs, logistics and tax implementations are also very important. We should not experience such problems with our brother country.”
The meeting in Baku was also attended by Hulusi Kilic, the Turkish ambassador to Baku, and many Turkish businesspeople living in Azerbaijan.