Azerbaijan to send LNG cargoes from next month
The federal cabinet has approved an agreement to procure liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes from Azerbaijan at discounted rates, according to a statement issued by the PM House on Thursday.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif apprised Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev of the cabinet’s decision during a meeting at the Azeri capital Baku, the statement added.
“This is the second major achievement for Pakistan towards the fulfilment of energy needs after recently receiving the shipment of crude oil from Russia,” the communique read.
Under the agreement, Pakistan will receive one LNG cargo on concessional rates per month from the next month.
PM Shehbaz has been working on the deal with Azerbaijan for the last six months, the PM Office said. The two leaders agreed that Azerbaijan would help Pakistan fulfil its energy needs through cooperation in the fields of oil and gas.
The Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) will collaborate at the government-to-government level to work out the energy resources, according to the PM’s Office.
It was agreed that Azerbaijan would invest in the alternative energy sector of Pakistan, including solar power generation. On Thursday in Baku, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev discussed the bilateral relations at length in a meeting at the Zugulba Palace.
The prime minister, accompanied by a high-level delegation, is on a two-day official visit to the Azerbaijani capital on the invitation of President Aliyev.
Pakistan and Azerbaijan agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and aviation to reflect the decades-old strong relationship between the two nations. At a joint press stakeout following their bilateral meeting, the two leaders told the media they will introduce flights of Azerbaijan Airlines between Islamabad and Baku, and enhance the number of military exercises, besides exploring avenues of cooperation in the areas of energy, investment and education.
Prime Minister Shehbaz, who earlier visited the mausoleum of Azerbaijan’s first president Haider Aliyev and the martyrs’ monument, spoke highly of President Ilham Aliyev’s leadership to build the city’s infrastructure and impressive horticulture.
Citing the “pleasant surprises” of neatness and beauty of Baku, the prime minister requested the Azerbaijan president to lend their experts in horticulture and waste management to Islamabad. He told the media that during the “wonderful” discussion, there was a “total unanimity” of views on various bilateral and multilateral issues as the relationship was built on mutual trust and sincerity of purpose. The prime minister said the Pakistani flags all across Baku manifest love between the two peoples.
“Though our ties are so strong since ages, these do not reflect their intensity through trade and investment, exchange of visits and other important areas of cooperation,” he remarked.
Emphasising cooperation in the energy sector, he said being an energy-deficient country, Pakistan depended upon costly imported fuels, spending $27 billion last year, which was becoming unaffordable owing to the challenges of imported inflation and oil price hike due to the Ukraine crisis. The prime minister said his government was committed to replacing the costly imported fuels with solar energy to support industries, exports, commerce and offices. He thanked the Azerbaijan president for abolishing duties on Pakistani rice to facilitate the export of the commodity to the friendly country.
He said Pakistan welcomed the Azerbaijan Airlines to start its operations to Islamabad and invited the country’s aviation minister to Pakistan to work out Baku-Karachi flights with a view to promoting bilateral tourism.
The prime minister thanked Azerbaijan for being a staunch supporter of Kashmiris’ rights and highlighted the Indian acts of terror and atrocities in the occupied valley, including the violations of United Nations’ resolutions.
He reiterated that Pakistan was committed to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and appreciated the bravery of its forces for fighting for the country’s rights.
Highlighting the immense opportunities the Gwadar Port offered, the prime minister said both countries could cooperate to enhance trade. He told the media that the Pakistan-Azerbaijan cooperation in defence was not a secret as it was meant for peace of the region, not any aggression.
Extending an invitation to President Ilham Aliyev to visit Pakistan, the prime minister said he also looked forward to the Azerbaijan delegations of economic, aviation and energy ministers to discuss at length the cooperation in petroleum and solar energy sectors.
In his remarks, President Ilham Aliyev welcomed the prime minister and his delegation to Baku and said both countries had agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of energy, defence and education.
He said Azerbaijan hoped to host more Pakistani students and Azeri students studying in Pakistani universities contributed to strengthening the bilateral relations. He told the media that the two sides had agreed to increase the number of military exercises as military capability was of the utmost importance considering the changing circumstances.
He said strong military capacity guaranteed independence and territorial integrity as Azerbaijan also liberated its Karabakh region through its military might, not dialogue.
Meanwhile, Pakistan and Azerbaijan signed a Statement of Understanding to enhance bilateral cooperation, particularly to boost the volume of energy trade. The document was signed by Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar and Azerbaijan’s Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov at a ceremony witnessed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, along with his cabinet members.
The document establishes a framework for fostering closer collaboration between Azerbaijan and Pakistan and promoting trade between the two countries.
Recognising the importance of expanding their friendship and economic partnership, the ministers expressed their dedication to diversifying trade and enhancing economic development through this agreement.
Under the agreement, both countries will collaborate to create favourable conditions for bilateral trade by sharing trade information, organising events, conducting studies to identify exportable products, and promoting economic cooperation.
For this purpose, both countries agreed to mobilise their efforts to finalise a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by early August of 2023.
They emphasised the potential benefits that the PTA would bring and affirmed their commitment to working collaboratively to realize the shared goals outlined in the Statement of Understanding.
The signing of this agreement marks a significant milestone in the economic partnership between Azerbaijan and Pakistan, strengthening the foundation for increased trade and economic cooperation. It is expected to create new opportunities for businesses, enhance bilateral investment, and contribute to the overall growth and prosperity of both nations.