On 30 April the EBRD Board of Directors adopted a new strategy for Azerbaijan that analyses the country’s progress in political and economic transition and outlines the Bank’s priorities in Azerbaijan over the next four years.
These priorities are the economic diversification of the non-oil and gas sectors, the development of a sustainable financial sector that is able to support private sector growth, as well as rural and regional development.
“Azerbaijan has made some progress in modernising its economy, but it still faces the challenge of economic diversification,” said Neil McKain, Head of the EBRD Resident Office in Baku. “We are happy to support the authorities’ ambitious strategy of diversifying the economy within the non-oil sector and further implementation of reforms that are important for growth and for the creation of a modern and vibrant private sector,” added McKain.
To help speed up reforms and support the authorities’ goals of diversification and improving the business environment, the EBRD will focus on:
Promoting market-driven economic diversification. The EBRD will support leading local companies directly and through Azerbaijani partner banks. There will be a special emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises in the agribusiness sector, and in the regions outside Baku and the Absheron peninsula.
Developing a sustainable financial sector to support private sector development. The EBRD will help improve access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, including in the regions. With all partner financial institutions the EBRD will promote high standards of corporate governance and risk management, contributing to increased competition. The Bank will assist in the development of local capital markets as well as the promotion of new financial instruments to target improved access to finance for businesses owned and run by women.
Improving governance and the business environment. The EBRD will prioritise engagement with private and public sector clients who can demonstrate commitment to high standards of corporate governance and transparency and to improving management practices. In parallel, the Bank will work closely with the government of Azerbaijan to deepen institutional and regulatory reform, while creating a more favourable investment climate.
The Bank will also 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 maximise its impact on transition in Azerbaijan.
The EBRD has been active in Azerbaijan since the country’s independence. To date the Bank has invested in 146 projects with over US$ 2.5 billion across various sectors of the Azerbaijani economy.