President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Azersulfat LLC sulphuric acid production plant and Glassica CJSC glass container production plant. He also inaugurated the Azerfloat CJSC thermoforming sheet glass plant at the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park.
Industrialization and the development of the non-oil industry are among the critical directions of President Ilham Aliyev's policy towards economic diversification. In this regard, along with other sectors of the economy, special attention is being paid to the industry's development. Systematic measures are taken to draw available natural and economic resources to production and broader application of advanced technologies.
Under the industrialization policy, hundreds of modern industrial enterprises and new production facilities are being set up in Azerbaijan. The share of local products in meeting the domestic demand is significantly increasing, and export opportunities are expanding.
Presently, industrial development through innovative models is of particular significance. Advanced mechanisms such as industrial parks and agricultural parks and estates aligned with global challenges open up extensive new opportunities for expanding the production of export-oriented goods, further reducing the dependence on oil and gas, developing competitive industries based on innovative technologies and increasing employment opportunities.
To be built under the "production of sulphuric acid" project of Azersulfat LLC, the plant's investment cost is $6 million. The plant is expected to produce 20,000 tons of acid a year. Due to start operations late this year, the plant will create more than 30 jobs.
The head of state laid the foundation of the enterprise.
5,000-10,000 tons of sulphuric acid were imported to Azerbaijan annually in the last three years alone, and the launch of this plant will help replace imports with local production. The sulphuric acid will also be exported to Georgia and Russia at later stages.
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Glassica Closed Joint-Stock Company is among the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park residents. The company will build a plant for the production of glass containers here. The company's products will be used mainly for packaging in the food sector. The $12 million enterprise will provide 160 permanent jobs.
President Ilham Aliyev laid the foundation of the plant.
The head of state was informed that the demand for colored bottles in Azerbaijan's domestic market varies between 45 and 50 million. The plant is expected to produce 60-90 million units of various colored glass containers. In other words, the needs of the domestic market will be fully met, and export prospects will emerge.
The sheet glass plant of Azerfloat CJSC is the first enterprise in Azerbaijan to produce thermoformed glass.
The plant with a total investment value of 100 million euros will produce 80,000 tons of various types of sheet glass per year. The enterprise's design and equipment are provided by HORN Glass Industries AG, a German company with 135 years of experience in glass melting technology. The company also uses Italian, Finnish and Chinese technologies.
The head of state launched the plant.
It was noted that the current demand for sheet glass in the country is met entirely by imported products. Sheet glass is produced in transparent or colored forms and small and large sizes. At present, more than 90 percent of sheet glass in the world – high-quality colored and colorless (transparent), as well as optically pure glass – is produced entirely by thermoforming technology. The most state-of-the-art technologies are already used in this field in Azerbaijan.
President Ilham Aliyev then gave an interview to Azerbaijan Television.
-Mr. President, first of all, we should probably view these groundbreaking ceremonies, as well as the start of production, as a continuation of the economic successes following our military and diplomatic victories and as further evidence of the industrialization policy you have identified as a priority. How would you assess the future contribution of the enterprises you have laid the foundation of and the ones that are starting to operate against the background of diversification of the non-oil industry?
- President Ilham Aliyev: The groundbreaking ceremonies and the launch of these enterprises are of great importance, first of all, for the Sumgayit's development. Sumgayit is not only the second-largest industrial city in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus now but also a modern industrial center. Simultaneously, all enterprises established in Sumgayit meet the highest environmental standards in recent years. It is of particular importance for Sumgayit because this city used to be an ecological disaster site back in the days. When turning Sumgayit into a modern industrial center, we have taken into account people's health as a matter of priority. As you know, many enterprises built here during the Soviet era had reached the end of their service life, fallen into disrepair, and negatively impacted the environment. Those enterprises were knocked down, and the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park covering an area of 500 hectares, was established ten years ago on this territory on my instructions. In recent years, this industrial park has grown and expanded so much that the order was issued to make additional land available, so work in this direction is underway.
I laid the foundation of this enterprise in 2017, and I am glad that this large project worth 100 million euros has already been implemented and will liberate us of the sheet glass imports. It means that foreign currency will stay in our country, local production is reinvigorated, jobs are created, and our economy is diversified. We have been able to maintain our resilience even at a time when world oil prices are low. At a recent meeting on the year's results, I noted that our foreign exchange reserves have not decreased. In fact, they have increased, albeit slightly. How? The non-oil sector has thrived. 2020 has been a year of economic recession throughout the world, so it was for Azerbaijan. But our decline was only 4.3 percent. In some developed countries, this decline is measured in larger numbers. In our non-oil industry, a growth of 12.5 percent was achieved thanks to such enterprises. Industry, agriculture, the non-oil sector, export opportunities, and the reduction of imports – all these factors have created a new reality today.
Thus, the long-term sustainable development of our country will be ensured. It is no coincidence that I have come here at the beginning of the year. 2021 begins with victories. Of course, my first visit to the regions was to Shusha, the dearest city for all of us. It has been extensively covered in the media. My second visit is to Sumgayit. I have been to Sumgayit perhaps 30 times in the last 17 years. Every time I am here, the focus is on the launch of industrial enterprises and the work done on urban development and addressing concerns. Today, Sumgayit is a beautiful city, both architecturally and ecologically – the air is clean, there is a beautiful boulevard, and jobs are being created. More than 350 jobs have been created in these three enterprises alone, and most of the employees will be local residents.
By creating these enterprises, we resolve the matters relevant to today and the future. Why not create all the production areas we need in Azerbaijan? Both foreign and local investors should have confidence in our country's future, which has always been the case. There should be a favorable investment climate. According to the World Bank's Doing Business report, we are among the top 10 most reformist countries and are ranked 28th globally. There must be stability, unity of the people and the government, peace, and security, and we have achieved this. The war is over, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been consigned to history. Therefore, I am confident that the investment in Azerbaijan of today will come, first of all, in the non-oil sector. Because if we managed to attract these investments in previous years when the conflict was still unresolved, it would be easier to do that today.
Also, reforms are underway in our country – personnel reforms, structural reforms, economic reforms, social reforms. There are only a handful of countries in the world that would have as many development factors as Azerbaijan today. Political stability, the unity of the people and the government, peace, geographical location, infrastructure, and trained professionals are essential – export markets, good business relations with neighboring countries, and problems with no country whatsoever. After some time, I hope that Armenia will also declare that they have no problem with us. Because the primary issue was that they had occupied our lands, they committed genocide against us. They destroyed our cities. We defended ourselves, did so befittingly and drove the occupiers out of our lands.
Therefore, a new era has begun in the development of our country. Even though all these factors are in place, we will return to the liberated lands and use those lands' potential. There is tremendous potential –renewable energy, valuable natural resources, gold deposits, copper deposits, rivers, reservoirs, fertile land for agriculture, tourism opportunities. So according to many, these regions will become the driving force of our further development. Of course, I share this opinion.
Simply put, everything in the liberated lands must be done in a planned and proper manner. I have some ideas as to how we should manage the liberated lands. These ideas will be implemented soon. Under the current situation in these regions, a modern management system must be in place to ensure that everything is planned – urban planning and government agencies' functions. Unfortunately, as you know, some unpleasant situations occur in different parts of our country due to a lack of oversight. In some places, lands are seized and unfairly distributed. Besides, water resources are unjustly distributed; some have access to water more than others. All this does not suit us. We must and will cleanse ourselves of these flaws. The cleansing process is going on and will go on. Everyone should know this. Let no-one think that they may have special privileges. No-one should consider themselves untouchable. Almost everything in the liberated lands is destroyed. Therefore, we must build a development model that can subsequently be transferred to all other districts - eliminate the existing shortcomings and ensure our country's successful development.
Of course, my primary focus was on resolving the Karabakh issue and leading the war that started in September as Commander-in-Chief. Today, the restoration of those regions – the Karabakh region – is high on my agenda. And this is not accidental; it is only natural. At the same time, I continue to rivet my attention to my traditional work, and my visit to Sumgayit shows that again.
The war is over; our victorious army has won the war and defeated the enemy. We will do our best to restore the liberated lands. That is the central part of my daily work. But the other territories' development will never be overlooked; the people of Azerbaijan can rest assured. I am confident that we will successfully complete this year and build a stronger Azerbaijan.
- Mr. President, with your permission, we would like to thank you, our victorious Commander-in-Chief, for the victory. You have said that Karabakh will be turned into a paradise, and we do not doubt that, thank you.
- President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.
Fifteen out of 24 residents already registered at the Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park, the first industrial estate in Azerbaijan and the largest in the South Caucasus, have started production. The positive momentum in the production and export of products at the industrial park continues. In 2020, the park produced goods worth 1.1 billion manats, which is 37 percent higher than in the previous year. Exports have increased by 18 percent compared to 2019 (276 million manats), amounting to 336 million manats in 2020.
Thus, thanks to the enterprises founded in Sumgayit Chemical Industry Park, we can state confidently that systematic measures are taken to draw existing natural and economic resources to production and broader, more comprehensive application of advanced technologies, in line with President Ilham Aliyev's policy of industrialization.