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In the next Strategy period it will be crucial for Azerbaijan to make material progress in diversifying its economy away from reliance on hydrocarbons. Challenges remain in the reform process with significant transition gaps across most indicators. In particular, it will be crucial for Azerbaijan to develop a sustainable financial sector that is able to support private sector development and economic diversification, especially in the regions outside of Baku and Absheron.
The Bank’s priorities in Azerbaijan during the next Strategy period will focus on promoting market-driven economic diversification and developing a sustainable financial sector to support private sector development. Specifically, the Bank’s operational activities in Azerbaijan will focus on the following areas:
Promoting market-driven economic diversification. The Bank will support leading local corporates with direct financing while helping EBRD partner banks to remain active in the corporate segment through MCFF. In the MSME sector the Bank will place a special emphasis on the agribusiness sector, and will support local banks to develop their capacity to support agricultural and regional lending. The Bank’s continued support for regional roads will also help facilitate the development of a viable agricultural sector while facilitating integration of smaller communities.
Developing a sustainable financial sector to support private sector development. The Bank will aim to strengthen financial intermediation to ensure efficient financing of the private sector, particularly SMEs and MSEs, including in the regions. The Bank will promote high standards of corporate governance and risk management, which should contribute to increased competition, setting new standards and opening new markets for banks, and will support consolidation in the banking sector through potential equity investments. The Bank will extend its co-operation with existing partner banks and assist in the development and promotion of new financial instruments to target improved access to finance for women-owned and women-run businesses, and will aim to promote energy efficiency investment projects through local banks via the Caucasus Energy Efficiency Programme. To develop local capital markets, the Bank will seek to bring corporate (non-FI) issuers to the corporate bond market, expand the institutional and retail investor base.
Improving governance and the business environment. In order to support the authorities’ goals of promoting competition and improving the business environment, the Bank will prioritise engagement with private and public sector clients who can demonstrate commitment to high standards of corporate governance and transparency and who have a commitment to improving management practices. In parallel, the Bank will work closely with the Government of Azerbaijan to deepen institutional and regulatory reform. Drawing on the lessons of hydrocarbons and financial sectors, EBRD will strive to create a more favourable investment climate in the real sector by promoting improvements in the legislative framework, enhancing competition and reducing the incentives for corruption. In order for these measures to be successful, opening new channels for constructive policy dialogue with key government agencies will be crucial. The Bank will also continue to pursue investments in energy projects that improve energy security, create new generating capacity, stimulate competition, diversify energy sources, increase efficiency, and create wider and larger markets through regional integration.
The Bank will continue to cooperate closely with other international financial institutions and multilateral and bilateral partners, including the European Union, in its operations as well as through policy dialogue to maximum transition impact in Azerbaijan.
Last updated 12 May 2014