Washington D.C., April 11, 2003 -- The
Executive Vice President of IFC and Managing Director of the World Bank
Group, Peter Woicke, will open and attend a conference today on “Investing
in Azerbaijan-Gateway to Newly Independent States” which will be held
from May 7 to 9, 2003 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Mr. Woicke will be accompanied
by Mr. Khosrow Zamani, IFC Director of Southern Europe and Central Asia.
In addition to focusing on oil products and services -- which account for
the largest part of Azerbaijan’s economy -- the conference will promote
investments in non-oil sectors such as textile, agribusiness, financial
services, infrastructure. This broader focus is to encourage and support
diversification in Azerbaijan’s economy, so that the country is not solely
dependent on oil.
The Ministry of Economic Development of Azerbaijan, the International Finance
Corporation of the World Bank Group, and the State Secretariat for Economic
Affairs of Switzerland are sponsoring the event. The Swiss Organization
for Facilitating Investments (SOFI) is the organizer of the Conference
on behalf of the sponsors.
Mr. Woicke will be joined by private sector business people, senior government
officials, and international conference participants to discuss the country’s
economic reforms over the past decade, the effects of the reforms on the
climate for business in Azerbaijan, and investment experiences and opportunities
in the non-oil sectors of the economy. High-level government officials,
key representatives of leading international financing institutions (such
as IBRD, EBRD and OPIC), local business people, and international entrepreneurs
will discuss their experiences and share their insight.
The conference comes amid efforts by the government of Azerbaijan to open
up the economy and establish more favorable laws and regulations for foreign
investors. The international development community believes that
these reform efforts must be accelerated to ensure an equitable distribution
throughout Azeri society of expected oil revenues and to prepare a solid
foundation for the country’s balanced economic development in all sectors,
including banking, transportation, oil services, infrastructure, construction,
and manufacturing. Azerbaijan presents interesting opportunities
for companies wishing to invest in the sectors under discussion at the
“Azerbaijan has a unique opportunity to leverage foreign investment gains
made in the oil sector and attract more investment to non-oil sectors as
well. This will support longer-term economic sustainability and will
benefit the people of Azerbaijan. With more favorable laws and a
reformed private sector business environment, Azerbaijan should be
able to achieve its development goals,” said Mr. Woicke, “I am looking
forward to my first visit to Azerbaijan and to the opportunity to meet
business and government leaders at the conference in May”.
During his visit to Azerbaijan, Mr. Woicke is expected to hold discussions
with non-government organizations and civil society to discuss IFC’s possible
involvement in the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli oil field and the Baku-Tibilisi-Ceyhan
pipeline project. In addition, Mr. Woicke will assess and review
the small and medium enterprises linkage program being designed and developed
by IFC to help small businesses in Azerbaijan. Mr. Woicke’s program
in Baku may also include a visit to Azerbaijan’s first microfinance bank,
which IFC helped establish in 2002.
For detailed information about the conference and to register, please visit
the conference website: www.invest-in-azerbaijan.com.
For more information about Mr. Peter Woicke and IFC please visit: http://www.ifc.org/about/structure/executivevp/executivevp.html
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the private sector arm of
the World Bank Group. IFC’s mission is to promote sustainable private
sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and
improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments
in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial
markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability,
and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) is the Swiss government
agency responsible for economic and labor questions. seco offers
its services in a variety of areas including world trade, economic integration
in the European Market, development cooperation with developing countries
and economies in transition, promotion activities to strengthen Switzerland's
international competitiveness as an economic center. It is also responsible
for Switzerland's economic relations with various countries and regions.