Public-private partnership opportunities in Latvia and Azerbaijan
Economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Latvia - is it between our countries? Even though agreements between the government of Azerbaijan and the government of Latvia on the principles of trade and economic cooperation have been signed, as well as the Convention on the elimination of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion, Latvia and Azerbaijan are still not sufficiently evaluating their economic potential. Just to mention that, according to the central bank of Latvia data, Azerbaijan's foreign direct investment in Latvia in 2017 amounted to about € 12 million, while Latvia's investments in Azerbaijan are negligible. In addition, there are now just over 40 joint Azerbaijani-Latvian companies in Latvia (compared with about one and a half thousand Latvian and Lithuanian companies in Latvia) in various sectors such as Construction, Wholesale and retail trade, Transportation and storage, Accommodation and food service activities, Financial and insurance activities, Real estate activities, Arts, entertainment and recreation. Interesting, according to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, trade turnover with Latvia in January-May 2017 exceeded $ 3.7 million, most of which, $ 3.4 million, is export from Latvia. In the last year, trade between countries increased by 11.5%. Why is economic cooperation between Latvia and Azerbaijan so insignificant and can it be improved? It should be noted that Latvia does not define Azerbaijan as a priority country in Latvia's foreign policy, Latvia stimulates the eurointegration of other Eastern Partnership countries - Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as these countries are most actively moving to the EU. In turn, the Azerbaijani government "balances" between the West and Russia. Azerbaijan, being a serious exporter of oil, is on the "Eastern Partnership Roadside" without showing a strong initiative, while remaining among the countries of the Eastern Partnership. Positive political atmosphere would foster the interest of Latvian businessmen in Azerbaijan and its economic potential. To strengthen economic relations between Latvia and Azerbaijan, the Latvian-Azerbaijani business forum is regularly held in Latvia, the last one was in July 2017. But this is too rare and too little to get to know the country and its economic potential in full.