The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Azerbaijan convened the third meeting of their bilateral Economic Partnership Commission (EPC) in Washington, DC, on April 18, 2012. Minister of Finance Mr. Samir Sharifov and Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert D. Hormats chaired the meeting.
Both governments reiterated a mutual interest in strengthening and deepening their strategic dialogue on economic reform and diversification, financial services, energy, trade and investment, and new cooperative initiatives. Specifically, the United States and Azerbaijan will work together to support the diversification of Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector and its increasing role in global energy security.
The delegations welcomed the signing of a second grant agreement between Azerbaijan’s State Civil Aviation Agency and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to provide technical assistance aimed at helping Azerbaijan achieve Category 1 aviation safety status, which would move Azerbaijan closer to direct airline flights between the two countries, as well as expand business, commercial, and tourism ties between the United States and Azerbaijan. The United States and Azerbaijan will continue discussions on an Open Skies Agreement that would benefit bilateral trade and tourism.
The United States and Azerbaijan recognized the importance of strengthening consultations on information and communication technologies and agreed to continue discussions on a Memorandum of Cooperation on Information Communications Technologies (ICT). The United States welcomed Azerbaijan’s role as host of the Internet Governance Forum to be held in Baku in November 2012. The two delegations recognized the importance of the agreement signed between the Government of Azerbaijan and the U.S.-based Orbital Sciences Corporation on the construction of the first ever telecommunication satellite of Azerbaijan.
Both sides agreed to work closely on Azerbaijan’s bilateral negotiations for Membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). To that end, our teams are also meeting bilaterally to make further progress.
The delegations reviewed cooperation in the energy sector and reaffirmed the importance of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of the United States and the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan on a Dialogue on Energy Security in the Caspian Region, which articulates the shared goal of launching a High Level Dialogue on Energy Security to discuss issues of mutual interest in the energy sector, including establishment of the Southern Gas Corridor and protection of critical energy infrastructure. The sides agreed to work to negotiate an updated MOU.
The United States and Azerbaijan will continue working closely together to support stability, peace, and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region by advancing regional economic integration in view of the New Silk Road vision. The United States welcomed Azerbaijan’s contribution to public-sector capacity building in Afghanistan.
The two sides expressed their intent to negotiate an extension to the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Azerbaijan and the U.S. Agency for International Development by October 30, 2013. The MOU would extend the ongoing, successful cooperation in jointly-funded economic activities that promote trade and investment, competitiveness in targeted value chains, efficient public sector expenditures, and provide additional co-financing of up to $18 million for those activities subject to the availability of funds. The parties agreed to work on a set of standard procedures related to the implementation of this MOU.
The two sides discussed Azerbaijan’s infrastructure projects and their contribution to further development of the trans-regional transportation networks that would strengthen commercial ties between Europe and Asia.
The parties agreed to discuss further cooperation on intellectual property rights.
The United States and Azerbaijan expressed intention to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on financial cooperation that has been negotiated between the Central Bank of Azerbaijan and the U.S. Agency for International Development to continue ongoing work to strengthen Azerbaijan’s risk-based banking supervision, combat terrorism financing, and establish an internationally-recognized automated cash management system.
The Government of Azerbaijan urged the Government of the United States to repeal Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act.
The Azerbaijan delegation included representatives of Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Communication and Information Technologies, Culture and Tourism, Economic Development, Taxes and Transport, as well as representatives from the Azerbaijan Investment Company, Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources, Central Bank of Azerbaijan, Office of the Prosecutor General, Silk Way Holding, the State Civil Aviation Administration, State Copyright Agency, and State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The United States delegation included representatives of the Departments of State, Energy, and Treasury; Office of the United States Trade Representative; United States Trade and Development Agency; and Export-Import Bank of the United States.
The Economic Partnership Commission demonstrates a commitment towards a strong, bilateral relationship through mutual engagement on economic issues. Both governments committed to further cooperation on issues of importance throughout the year. The United States and Azerbaijan will work towards convening the fourth meeting of the Economic Partnership Commission in 2013 in Baku.