The United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce comments on the upcoming hearings on Azerbaijan’s eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences
United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC), an American 501(c)6 business association based in Washington, D.C., would put forth the following commentary for contribution regarding upcoming hearings on Azerbaijan’s eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
Historically, Azerbaijan has been the largest trade partner of the United States in the South Caucasus region. This partnership is deeply rooted in the security and cooperation of energy sectors. Currently, the longstanding strategic alliance is successfully being mirrored into the non-energy sectors of the economy as well. Bilateral investments between the two countries well exceeds $17 bl. American investments in the Azerbaijani marketplace exceed $10 bl., while Azerbaijan’s direct investments in the United States equals $7.6 bl.
As Azerbaijan continues to diversify its economy beyond the oil sector, agriculture, education, alternative-energy, information technologies, and tourism have been identified as priority sectors for economic development. Thus, creating additional opportunities for American businesses to expand their interests in the open market of emerging opportunities.
In 2019 alone, USACC along with its partners – the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Azerbaijan Mission, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Oklahoma Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, successfully implemented two major Agriculture Trade Missions to the United States. Over thirty Azerbaijani companies, mostly small and medium-sized businesses participated in these agricultural forums, which has already resulted in more than a million USD worth of deals between American and Azerbaijani businesses.
USACC promotes and facilitates direct trade and business linkages between Azerbaijan and individual U.S. states in several sectors of the economy, most importantly being agriculture. As a GSP beneficiary country, Azerbaijani businesses, particularly Small & Medium Enterprises and their growing number of workers, would be enabled to increase bilateral trade with the United States. USACC and its stakeholders continue to educate Azerbaijani SMEs on the advantages of doing business under GSP terms.
We hail the large-scale reforms currently being undertaken by the Azerbaijani Government, including improvements in banking, taxation, customs and judiciary systems, as well as optimization of government’s structure and reshaping labor relations in the country. Most services related to labor relations and regulations are now being provided electronically as part of the e-Government and transparency initiative. It is our hope that the hearings scheduled for January 30th will only increase knowledge about the current state of labor relations and regulations in the country, and Azerbaijani businesses will continue to take advantage of GSP for the years to come.