阿塞拜疆驻华全权公使特邀访谈全文实录
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Q1

In 2020, COVID-19 rages around the world. In the face of the menacing pandemic, the people of China and Azerbaijan have stood together through storms and hardships. We have rendered each other firm moral support and timely material assistance, which reflects the high political mutual trust and profound traditional friendship between the two countries. How do you evaluate the economic and trade exchanges and future development between China and Azerbaijan?


A1


Yes, indeed, these difficult times proved yet again our strong friendship and high mutual trust. Your remarks perfectly reflect the current relationship between our countries.

 

Even though in 2020, trade turnover between our countries decreased, a detailed evaluation of the data shows that it was more due to the price fluctuations of our major export to China than the decrease in the quantity of any product. Our major export to China is oil, and the price decrease in the oil market had a negative value impact on our export to China. However, our focus is on increasing the export of non-oil products to China, which according to last year's trade data, increased by 19%. Notwithstanding difficulties faced due to Covid-19, this is a very pleasing achievement and boosts Azerbaijani companies' confidence in the Chinese market. 

 

China's early remarkable recovery enabled us to continue to promote Azerbaijan's attractive investment environment, the excellent quality products, and win new strong partnerships among companies from our countries. Last year, we had a chance to demonstrate Azerbaijani products, services, and investment opportunities in four exhibitions around China. I have to mention that two events were immensely successful for us, one being China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing and the other China International Import Expo held in Shanghai. In total, 23 companies from Azerbaijan attended CIIE and displayed more than 500 products. 

 

Encouraged by recent success in trade and economic exchanges, we will continue our work to further expand the presence of good quality Azerbaijani products in the Chinese market and continue to attract Chinese investments to Azerbaijan.


Q2

China was the first country to be impacted by COVID-19, and the first to gradually restore a normal order. How do you see the future challenges and opportunities of Azerbaijani wine in the Chinese market?


A2


China was not only the first country to restore normal order but also the only major economy to display economic growth. In return, this achievement will positively impact China's wine market, even though it will increase the competition. The development of the Chinese economy and the speedy recovery of consumer confidence will make the Chinese market even more attractive for winemakers worldwide. Last year was a challenging year for China's wine market. In 2020, wine imports in China decreased by 25%. If in 2019 73 countries were exporting their wine to China, in 2020, 65 countries were remaining. However, according to P.R.C. General Administration of Customs data, wine import from Azerbaijan increased by 16% year on year basis.

 

Azerbaijani wine is a relatively new comer to the Chinese market and we still have a lot of work to do in terms of brand building and sales channel expansion. The Chinese market is already a vast opportunity, especially with the continually evolving policies to encourage domestic consumption and various trade exchange platforms to support importing the right quality products. We are in a permanent move to optimize our sales channels, marketing strategy, and presence on different platforms to take advantage of the present opportunities.

 

So, facts on the ground make us have a strong belief in Azerbaijan wine's success in China. Slowly but with confidence, Azerbaijan wine in China is gaining popularity among Chinese importers and, eventually, consumers. As I mentioned before, Chinese consumers are smart, enjoy exploring, finding, and trying new products. Azerbaijan's wine is a perfect synthesis of good quality and reasonable price. Our goal is not to make wine our primary export product to China. We would like Chinese consumers to accept Azerbaijan wine as a boutique, authentic, high quality, reasonably priced product that they can enjoy. Especially pomegranate wine from Azerbaijan and wines made from local grape varieties such as Bayan Shira and Madrasa with their delicate taste are new offerings to Chinese consumers.

 

Q3

What's the goal of Azerbaijani wine in the Chinese market in 2021? What is the specific promotion plan?

 

A3


Our goal for 2021 is to increase the export of wine from Azerbaijan to China threefold. Is this goal too optimistic? Yes, indeed. Is it achievable? We believe so. We regularly work with our Chinese partners, get their feedback and suggestions, and incorporate them into our promotion plan and expansion strategy. We will continue to work closely to promote wine from Azerbaijan with every tool available to us, starting from facilitating their attendance of different expos, masterclasses, wine promotion events, and expansion of Azerbaijan Trade and Wine houses across China. In this challenging path, we rely heavily on Azerbaijan Wine Promotion Center's advice and actions. We will continue to work very closely as it successfully promotes the culture, uniqueness, and rich tradition of Azerbaijan winemaking across China. We will also work closely with our Chinese partners, attain their vision, and help them achieve their goals.


Q4

As the Chinese Spring Festival is approaching, which is the most important festival for Chinese people, what would you like to say to Chinese importers, distributors, and Azerbaijani wine lovers?


A4


I wish them and their loved ones good health, happiness, prosperity, and success! Thank you for your support and your hard work. I am looking forward to working closely with many of you very soon at the 104th China Food and Drinks Fair in Chengdu.