Azerbaijan Requests $2 billion in Agricultural Aid From WTO

BAKU – The Azeri government has request USD 2 billion in aid from the World Trade Organization to support its troubled agricultural sector., Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev announced at the weekend.

"We have asked the WTO for USD 1 billion in direct aid to support the agricultural industry and another USD 1 billion to organize an agricultural recovery project in the occupied territories (Nagorno-Karabakh) of Azerbaijan once they’ve been liberated." Mammadguliyev said in an interview with Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

The WTO has yet to respond to Azerbaijan’s request and Azeri officials have not indicated whether they expect to receive

Azerbaijan has already received EUR 7.2 million in direct aid from the European Union to help develop and overhaul the agricultural industry in the country’s villages.

Baku plans to improve sanitation and upgrade the quality of agricultural products coming from its regions.

Azerbaijan’s total 2016 budget for agriculture and regional development amounts to USD 15.5 million.

The aid request comes amidst mounting speculation that the national currency – the manat – is at risk of being depreciated after major shortages of foreign currency in the country have led to the development of a black market.

Monetary instability has plagued Azerbaijan since early 2015 when declining oil revenues and a sharp decline in remittances from Russia forced the country’s central bank to cut the manat’s exchange rate against the US dollar.

The manat has since suffered from a rapid depreciation and drained the country’s once vast foreign currency reserves.

Since the start of the year, the manat’s depreciation has caused a total capital loss of USD 670 million.

By Nicholas Waller 

29 August 2016 12:09