The 24th annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) was held in Baku on June 23.
Opening the meeting, Finance Minister, Chairperson for the Republic of Azerbaijan of the BSTDB Samir Sharifov said that the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank has successfully overcome the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic and significantly increased its capital in 2021. He noted that Azerbaijan, as an active country in the development of the bank, will continue to support efforts to increase its capital.
Emphasizing Azerbaijan's commitment to the region's economic development, Sharifov also touched upon the difficulties created by the Russian-Ukrainian war, noting that region countries feel the negative effects of the war most.
"The Russian-Ukrainian war and the events around the Black Sea have created problems with logistics, especially the transportation of food products. The fact that both countries are important producers and suppliers of grain and vegetable oils and it threatens global food security in general, affecting rising prices. Unfortunately, the war is not over yet and the consequences of geopolitical tensions in the region are unknown.”
The minister noted that international financial institutions should assess all the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the war. "The whole world, including our country, is facing global inflationary pressures. The Azerbaijani Government is developing and implementing certain anti-inflation measures on the instructions of the President. These measures are mainly the elimination of customs duties and taxes on food imported into the country. Necessary decisions are being made and as a result of their implementation, prices will decrease slightly," Sharifov said.
Speaking at the annual meeting, Dmitry Pankin, President of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, said that the situation in the world has changed due to the conflict in Ukraine and the bank must determine its role and how it can contribute to future development. Noting that Azerbaijan is an important shareholder of the BSTDB, Pankin said that new opportunities for cooperation are being considered. According to him, there are new opportunities for the development of cooperation, especially in the field of renewable energy sources.
In his speech, Secretary General of the International Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) Asaf Hajiyev called on the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank to participate in the restoration of the liberated territories of Azerbaijan.
Head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Azerbaijan Kamola Makhmudova spoke about the projects implemented in Azerbaijan, saying that a project on solid waste management has already been launched in Ganja. "Two more solar and wind energy projects will be launched this year. The bank will continue to support the green economy in Azerbaijan."
General Counsel and Secretary General at Nordic Investment Bank Heikki Cantell said that his organization could provide direct financial support to Azerbaijan. According to him, Nordic Investment Bank cooperates with the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, which provides financial support for the implementation of projects in Azerbaijan. To date, Nordic Investment Bank has provided a loan of 1.5 million euros to the BSTDB.
Ambassador Lazar Comanescu, Secretary General of the Permanent International Secretariat of the BSEC Organization, Maciej Czura, Head of the European Investment Bank's Regional Office for the South Caucasus, Ivana Fernandes Duarte, IFC's Regional Manager for the South Caucasus who attended the annual meeting as observers, praised Azerbaijan's chairmanship of the Bank's Board. They shared their views on the development of the Black Sea region, expanding trade and investment opportunities.
On June 24, as part of the annual meeting, a business forum titled “BSTDB role in supporting a diversified and innovative Azerbaijani economy in a changing world” will be organized with the participation of the BSTDB, Azerbaijani Government, AZPROMO and regional business associations.
The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB), an international financial institution with headquarters in Thessaloniki, Greece, was established by Albania, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. BSTDB supports economic development and regional cooperation, participates in lending to projects in the public and private sectors in member countries, opens credit lines, provides investment and guarantees, and finances trade.