Caspian Energy Journal Caspian European Club
Friday, 10 April 2015 13:30

TUSIAB member companies account for 90% of all Turkish investments in Azerbaijan - Yavuz Keleş Featured

Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Keleş, TUSIAB has been working in Azerbaijan for 20 years. Please accept our congratulations on the anniversary. Could you please tell about the reasons why the organization was established and its outstanding features? 

Yavuz Keleş, Chairman of the Board of theInternational Association of Azerbaijan Turkish Industrialists and BusinessmenTUSIAB: The International Association of Azerbaijan Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen, TUSIAB was established on November 16, 1994 in Baku by the blessings of National Leader Heydar Aliyev. The key objective of the association is to encourage Turkish businessmen to invest in Azerbaijan and assist in their activity, to boost solidarity and cooperation among the members, to contribute to reinforcing the friendship and fraternity relations based on the unity of economic relations, language, religion and history of the two countries.

Today TUSIAB is a non-governmental organization, which does not interfere with the formation of political ideology and works in harmony with the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The organisation ensures solidarity and cooperation among nearly 300 members and fosters development of the social and cultural relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey. TUSIAB has been working as a non-governmental organisation for 20 years and as such offers any assistance to investors, who represent our country, and properly respects their ideas.


CE: Could you please tell us about your activity in Azerbaijan and your member companies?

Yavuz Keleş: TUSIAB is willing to boost development of the economy of the two countries and invites investors from Turkey to Azerbaijan. Since the very establishment, we have organised a wide range of workshops and introductory meetings in this field. We introduce Azerbaijan to foreign investors through both internet sites and mass media. Besides, I would like to tell proudly that TUSIAB gives recommendations to Azerbaijani counterparts with regard to investing into Turkey and offers support, encouraging Turkish entrepreneurs to invest together with Azerbaijani businesspeople into the third countries. As a result of our activity, 10% of our members make trade in cooperation with Azerbaijani businessmen in the third countries. Furthermore, TUSIAB provides support to important projects and programs, and works both among our member companies and also within the framework of cooperation between the two countries not only in commerce, but also in the social and cultural areas. For instance, we have traditional activities such as Football tournament, Bowling tournament, Kite festival in order to enhance friendship and relations among our members.

At the same time we provide sponsorship to projects, programs and published works that serve to the relations of the two countries. Besides, TUSIAB is involved in theoretical trainings of our students under the Protocol signed with the universities, mainly with the State Economic University in order to evolve the university-industry cooperation and help with getting experience and job opportunities for students. Also, we frequently host educational workshops and certification programs for the sake of more productive institutions, more successful managers and qualified employees. TUSIAB is involved in lots of activities in the social life. The information about all these activities is available at the website, the social network’s page  and ANALIZ, our economics magazine published every 3 months and newsletters released once a month.


CE: How do you encourage Turkish businessmen to invest in Azerbaijan?

Yavuz Keleş: As I stated above, one of the main reasons for establishing TUSIAB is to encourage Turkish businessmen to invest in Azerbaijan and assist in their activities. For this purpose, we get involved in business relations and cooperation with DEIK (Foreign Economic Relations Board), TOBB (Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges) in Turkey and with business associations across the country. Staying committed to encouraging them to visit the country and make investments, we keep them informed about developments in the country and the fields for investing. Besides, 2-3 times a month the TUSIAB members visit our office and we help them in their activities. TUSIAB answers all questions of any businessmen, who is willing to visit Azerbaijan and for this purpose we have established a qualified staff with good knowledge of local laws and investment opportunities. There are two lawyers, a financial advisor and Secretary General, who is highly professional in his area of expertise, and his assistants in our organization. They make presentations for incoming guests on each area of the country. To this end, our building is fully equipped and we have a conference room that can host up to 60 people.


CE: To what extent are Turkish businessmen eager to invest in Azerbaijan?

Yavuz Keleş: At this point, currently there are nearly 600 Turkish businessmen working in the country and our members account for 90% of all Turkish investments. Their investments make approximately $10 billion. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev stated this during his last official visit to Turkey.

Turkey has been a leader on export to Azerbaijan for the last 4 years. While traveling the country, you will see that the nation’s major demand is for Turkish brands, starting from food and clothes and ending with construction to service industry. Its financial reason is quality and honesty, and the moral reason is the activity of the businessmen with the same enthusiasm and joy as in their own country, which leads to success.


CE: Which fields of the Azerbaijani economy seem more preferable for the Turkish businessmen to invest in?

Yavuz Keleş: The main field of investment is the non-oil sector. The Turkish entrepreneurs contribute investments to almost each area of the non-oil sector. But the most favourable fields for making investment are construction, service and tourism.


CE: What fields of the non-oil sector are the most attractive ones today?

Yavuz Keleş: Since our businessmen invest mostly in such areas of the non-oil sector as construction, service and tourism, they get revenues in these fields. In my view there are two fields which have huge gaps that need to be filled.

One of these fields is the industry, which anyhow influences each field of the economy. To that end, President Ilham Aliyev declared the 2014 tear as the Year of Industry and thus speeded up the investments into this field. Furthermore, the State Program for 2015-2020 has been approved in virtue of the importance of the industrial sector. In view of the importance that the state attaches to this field as well as the attractiveness of this sector, everybody shall be deemed to do something in this field. The second field is the agriculture. The fertile soil and favourable climate conditions of the country create opportunities for any type of investment. But this field is one of the most undeveloped ones in the country. This is the reason why the country leadership declared 2015 as the Year of Agriculture and approved the support programs. My recommendation for businessmen is to right off take action in this field.


CE: Does the fall in oil prices on the world market have impact on the projects of the Association and its members?

Yavuz Keleş: The decline in oil prices is driven by the contraction in global economy and falling global demand.

According to the IMF World Economic Outlook, the expectations were lowered respectively by 0.1% for 2014 and by 0.2% for 2015 to 3.3% and 3.8%. The IMF lowered the forecast of growth for Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Brazil and other highly developed countries, namely G-20 states except for the US and UK. It means that the contraction in global economy brings the demand for energy resources and oil down. In turn, it causes a fall in prices. A different matter is that the producers of the US and Saudi Arabia have agreed and do ramping up the production instead of cutting it, despite the falling prices.

Another important factor in this policy is Russia. Following the US-EU sanctions against Russia, the US uses petroleum as a second weapon to push the economy of Russia to a downturn. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin announced the possibility of cuts in spending. If to analyze this statement profoundly, it would be a populist viewpoint to argue that Azerbaijan will not be affected by the foresaid. However, it will also sound as realistic to state that it will not have a major impact. As you know, Azerbaijan got out of the global economic crisis in 2007-2008 with positive economic performances.  Considering the developments in the Azerbaijani economy in the fall-rise period of oil prices, it makes no sense to be anxious about decreasing oil prices. Because the recession is always very little in the Azerbaijan economy during the period of falling oil prices and the economy of the country is not affected much. As we have not experienced any complaints from our members, we consider the thoughts that we support to be true and right. The reason of this success is stable governance. In this respect, Azerbaijan is a very lucky state.


CE: What do you like most in your work?

Yavuz Keleş: The one thing that mostly makes me delightful is to see the result of my work. I mean, you toil and this way both earn money and serve. Quality of the services (halallig) is of great importance when you take money for them. If people smile and are gratified, here it is the happiness!


CE: How do you spend your leisure time in Baku?

Yavuz Keleş: Leisure time of a businessman outside work is still business.  I mean he is obliged to arrange every passing day.  Behold there is an African story, so called “Lion and gazelle”. Every morning, when a lion wakes up, it knows it must run faster. When a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. The lion knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. The lion knows that it caught the slowest gazelle yesterday, so each following gazelle will be faster. The gazelle knows that if it does not run faster, the turn will come to it. The business world is also just like this. Entrepreneurs almost do not have time for leisure. But I enjoy traveling the country and having a talk in fellow meetings at odd times.



Thank you for the interview



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