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A Vocational Education Center under the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park Limited Liability Company has been inaugurated. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the opening ceremony.
The head of state viewed conditions created in the center.
Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov and Director of the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park LLC Nazim Talibov informed President Ilham Aliyev about the Education Center.
The building of the Vocational Education Center accommodates a total of 500 students. It consists of six units. The buildings have 23 classrooms, 13 laboratories, an assembly hall for 154 people, a canteen for 184 people, a library, a computer room, a gym and 24 offices.
Currently, the Vocational Education Center accepts students for the 2020-2021 academic year in the specialties of the operator of lathes and milling machines, programmable machines, electrician for the maintenance and repair of electrical equipment, industrial installation specialist, a web designer and a software specialist.
The center's curriculum has been prepared based on international practices. Specialists from resident companies of the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park are involved in the training process. Eighty percent of classes in particular disciplines will be conducted at the enterprises of the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park. Besides, stands with training equipment have been installed in the center to organize practical training.
Industrialization is an essential component of the economic policy of President Ilham Aliyev. The main objective is to expand the share of local products in meeting domestic demand, to increase the export potential and to reduce further the dependence on the oil and gas factor in general. The success of this strategy can be seen in the statistics of the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park, which reflects real numbers. In particular, whereas goods worth 258 million manats were produced here in the first half of 2019, twice as much, or products worth 534 million manats, were produced in the corresponding period of 2020. Exports have increased by 1.5 times compared to the first six months of 2019 (121 million manats), amounting to 182 million manats in the first half of 2020.
President Ilham Aliyev: Give me calculation of the gross domestic product as a whole.
Mikayil Jabbarov: Dear Mr. President, on your instructions and jointly with relevant departments of the Presidential Administration, we are currently assessing the gross domestic product, the attraction of investments for each region, and gross domestic product per capita.
President Ilham Aliyev: Please do, because I have repeatedly said in meetings with the heads of executive authority that one of the main areas of their activity is precisely this – to attract investments, create jobs and give an impetus to the work carried out in districts and cities.
It is worth noting that the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park is registering positive dynamics in the production and export of products now. In general, in 2019, the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park manufactured products worth 823 million manats, about 33 percent of which (276 million manats) were exported. In six months of 2020, the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park manufactured products worth 534 million manats, and its share in the total volume of products manufactured in the country's non-oil industry (5.7 billion manats) amounted to 9.3 percent. Products worth 182 million manats have been exported and its share in the exports of non-oil industrial products (910 million manats) is 20 percent. Currently, more than 5,500 people are provided with permanent jobs at the enterprises operating in the park.
President Ilham Aliyev: I said earlier that Sumgayit is the second-largest industrial center not only in Azerbaijan but also in the South Caucasus today. Sumgayit's potential is getting stronger. A glass production plant will also start operating here this year. Significant investments have also been made there and it will provide us with glass. Although the construction sector is experiencing some recession due to the pandemic today, it is recovering and will be restored. We will provide ourselves with local glass. This is also an outstanding achievement.
We must, as far as possible, meet the domestic demand with local products. The city of Sumgayit, in particular, the Chemical Industry Park, plays a vital role in this because, having done this work in recent years, we have achieved this to a large extent. The main task now is to find out where we have the most significant dependence on imports, and if substitution is possible and there are raw materials for this or a feasibility study allows that, then it is imperative to pay attention to these sectors. Companies showing such an initiative should be granted resident status and the government should provide them with assistance, provide low-interest loans so that we can reduce our dependence on imports as much as possible. After all, any country strives for this, in particular, a country with a growing population – Azerbaijan should seek just that.
Of course, our oil fields will eventually be depleted. True, we will start operating new oil and gas fields shortly and will try to keep the level of production stable. But a natural decline in the Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli fields, our primary sources of income, is inevitable. We must fill this gap precisely thanks to the non-oil sector. To maintain the balance of payments at a positive level, we need enterprises that produce high-quality export products, of course, and bring in foreign currency. The positive balance of payments today is maintained mainly due to the oil and gas factor. However, we must try, leaving aside this factor, to always have a positive balance in export-import operations. Therefore, it is imperative to create export-oriented manufacturing industries capable of replacing imports. A cigarette factory has started functioning here and our statistics already show how much the dependence on imports has decreased. Correct?
Mikayil Jabbarov: Yes.
President Ilham Aliyev: Before the launch of this factory, we mostly depended on imports. Today we have saved 300 million manats. At the same time, this factory has growth potential as well. Attending the opening ceremony of the factory, I said: do try to launch the second and third lines so that production increases and we can export these products. I said back then that I only want these products to be exported so that no-one in Azerbaijan smokes and there is no domestic demand. Of course, this is impossible, but we must try. Among other things, we need to structure our campaigning work properly. Also, of course, the prohibitions came into force. Therefore, I see this factory in the future as an exclusively export-oriented enterprise, and there are many such examples. We currently have a tobacco production and quality equipment. I said earlier why some countries that do not produce tobacco export products to us. They buy tobacco elsewhere, then process it and sell it. True, as you know, we also depend on foreign tobacco in the production of cigarettes. However, the task has been set: to buy products from local tobacco growers to give impetus to the development of agriculture.
In the example of the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park, we see a renewing and strengthening Azerbaijan, especially if we recall what this territory was like, what state it was in when we made this decision. These were rotten, run-down enterprises that had ceased to operate; this was a zone of an environmental disaster and unused lands. Now an industrial park covering hundreds of hectares has been created here. What is the area?
Mikayil Jabbarov: The total area is 508 hectares.
President Ilham Aliyev: It is 508 hectares, but it will probably expand further, right?
Director of the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park LLC Nazim Talibov: Mr. President, more than 80 percent, has been completed.
President Ilham Aliyev: Will it be fully completed in the next two to three years?
Nazim Talibov: If we proceed at this rate, then yes, it will be at capacity in the next two to three years.
President Ilham Aliyev: Therefore, new territories are needed. There are many such areas here, on the outskirts of Sumgayit. Perhaps you should already develop a plan for those areas – cleaning those areas, laying communications and resolving other issues – so that this work does not stop. After all, the interest of foreign investors in our country is growing. I have also urged local investors to invest in Azerbaijan. So development here should go fast enough to keep unemployment low, minimize our dependence on imports and produce export-oriented goods.
Mikayil Jabbarov: Dear Mr. President, we are already receiving a response to your call from entrepreneurs – business people operating both in Azerbaijan and abroad. Although we are still living in the quarantine period, there have already been applications. I do hope that you will be informed about the real results of this call within the next year.
President Ilham Aliyev: Very good! At the same time, of course, in my remarks, I also appealed to Azerbaijani business people living abroad and urged them to come and invest in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is their homeland and they always see Azerbaijan’s support. A strong Azerbaijan multiplies their power too. Therefore, Azerbaijanis have achieved great success in various countries in the economic, commercial and business spheres. They must invest in their homeland, keep in touch with their homeland, bring up their children based on Azerbaijani values, in the national spirit, so that their children know the Azerbaijani language and cherish our national values. If we can mobilize all these factors in the right direction, then the flow of investment to Azerbaijan will not stop. This is our primary goal. The global recession, which deepened further due to the pandemic, has undoubtedly affected many companies. However, it is in this context that we must take steps to be among the countries most prepared for the post-pandemic period and to have a new development dynamic immediately and without delay.
As noted, enterprises have been set up on about 85 percent of the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park’s area. At this pace, the park will be filled in the next two to three years. This should be viewed as an indicator of the success of President Ilham Aliyev’s industrialization strategy. The strategy includes a clear vision for the future and sustainable development.
President Ilham Aliyev: As I said earlier, prepare proposals for the future development of the Industrial Park and choose new locations. I repeat that if we maintain the same speed, all of these places will be filled up in two to three years and there will be no space left on 508 hectares. So look around to find out where we can continue. It does not have to be adjacent to this area, it may be a little away from here, but the main subject is that it will be given resident status. Cleaning and communication work can be started this year, without delay, because it will take time. It took us about a year to clear this area – both cleaning and then communication work. Therefore, some funds may be allocated before the end of the year so that we can do this work in the newly selected place so that investors do not waste any time when they are already interested.
Mikayil Jabbarov: We will submit proposals, dear Mr. President. Thank you for your confidence!