February 11, 2020

OF COURSE THEY'RE LIBERALIZING; THEY'

Is change on its way in Azerbaijan? (Pieter Cleppe, 2/11/20, CapX)

What hasn't been widely reported yet is how Azerbaijan itself is diversifying its economy, moving away from its excessive reliance on the energy sector, a situation that means oil and gas represent a whopping 75% of government revenue. While Azerbaijani oil production has fallen over the last decade, it was the global crude oil plunge of 2014 that really refocused minds in Baku - as well as leading the country's central bank to devalue its currency, the Manat.

A reform process spearheaded by President Ilham Aliyev to boost the country's non-energy sector has seen  a number of high-profile ministers and administrators dismissed, while younger, Western-trained politicians were promoted. A good example is the US-educated Economy Minister, Mikayil Jabbarov, who is also responsible for taxation and the privatisation of state enterprises.

There is already evidence that the reforms are paying dividends. The World Bank's Doing Business Index ranked Azerbaijan among the top 20 reformers in the areas of registering property, obtaining credit, protecting minority investors and enforcing contracts, and the country's overall ranking is 34th out of 190 countries.

Sunday's elections were in keeping with this reform process, with the old guard making way for a younger group of legislators. 

Posted by at February 11, 2020 3:47 AM

  

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