Rapid development: Azerbaijani realities in Doing Business

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Baku, 9 November 2018 –

The World Bank has released its Doing Business 2019 report, which compares business regulation in more than 150 countries. It also features the ease of doing business ranking. The report concluded that Azerbaijan made serious progress in the ease of doing business, and recognized the country as one of the 10 improvers globally. Against a background of ongoing global geopolitical situation and crisis even in developed countries, it once again emphasizes vital realities relating to Azerbaijan. One of the important aspects of the issue relates to the geopolitical and economic dynamics, which will be highlighted in this article.

Ratings and reality: World Bank`s objective evaluations

High international ratings are nowadays something that cannot surprise. This tendency has grown so much in the past few decades that development indicators have become common. However, there are some high-profile rankings. The World Bank`s Doing Business is one of them. It is considered one of the flagship and reliable indexes in the world.

Doing Business assesses reforms in 190 countries. The report is made based on data surveys gathered from public and business sectors, including consulting companies and expert contributors. Expert missions are sent to countries in order to verify data from the surveys and study real effects of reforms.

A nation's ranking on the index is based on the average of 10 sub indices. Doing Business is considered by investors as a reliable index of business environment. It also seriously affects rankings of other international organizations.

On Azerbaijan, Doing Business 2019 said: ''In Europe and Central Asia, Azerbaijan implemented eight reforms making iteasier to do business in 2017/18, a record number among the 10 top improvers and globally…'' What should be emphasized is that Azerbaijan has always advanced in this report, ranking 65th in 2016 edition and jumping to 57th in 2018 edition.

We point out this fact because some international rating organizations have taken a biased attitude towards Azerbaijan and release contradictory reports. They provide numerous artificial examples in order to criticize Azerbaijan. This has happened repeatedly. And against this background, these organizations exaggerate Armenia-related data and release groundlessly positive reports about this country.

But Doing Business is different. The aforementioned examples confirm that those who prepare Doing Business took a firm attitude and are trying to give a real picture of what is happening in countries. This shows that some rating organizations face internal problems. They are losing credibility by issuing contradictory reports and ratings.

Against this backdrop, Doing Business 2019`sdata on Azerbaijan is thought-provoking. First of all, it is obvious that Azerbaijan is recognized as the only rapidly developing state in the South Caucasus. This cannot be said of other regional countries. Azerbaijan is a country, which is implementing serious and effective reforms to ease doing business. It is evidenced by Azerbaijan`s making considerable progress on 8 out of 10 sub indices featured in the report. This in fact makes Azerbaijan one of the 10 best reformer countries in the world.

This fact is of huge geopolitical significance. The point is that the indicators highlighted in Doing Business report in fact confirm the scale of independent state building and demonstrate what criteria Azerbaijan attaches importance to as an independent state and how successful the country is in this process. The logic behind the report`s Azerbaijan-related evaluations is that Azerbaijan is implementing most effective reforms towards independent state building among former soviet republics.

Moving forward on the path of reforms: Azerbaijan in light of programs

This exposes attempts of certain forces to give wrong impression of geopolitical and economic dynamics in the South Caucasus. In particular, Armenia is trying to label Azerbaijan as a state which does not meet modern standards. Armenian politicians are accusing Azerbaijan of regular human rights violations. But what is the real situation?

According to Doing Business, Azerbaijan boasts the most favourable business environment among other regional states. This is why Azerbaijan is the most heavily-invested country in the South Caucasus. Had situation been better in Armenia or Georgia, these countries would have received most of investment.

So reality gives a picture completely different from what Armenia is fabricating. Azerbaijan is the most successful independent state in the South Caucasus, which is fully recognized. International organizations already started to make corrections to their approaches. This may produce geopolitically positive results.

It seems that the world is restoring justice in its attitude towards Azerbaijan. Wrong impressions that had been built for many years should be replaced by a fair and real stance. The report emphasized that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a nation ranked as one of the best 10 business reformers should be ensured.

On the other hand, certain forces began to realize that the Azerbaijani leadership is implementing reforms aimed at improving democratic governance and all areas of society`s life. Under President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has continuously deepened democratic reforms. This has covered all areas, including governance, economy, energy, transport, military sector, and environment.

Construction measures have been taken on a continuous and systematic basis in Azerbaijan. Improvement and transparency in governance, effective fight against corruption, continuous socio-economic reforms, improvement of people`s living standard and social security, effective programs in energy and defense sectors have completely renewed the country`s image and boosted its development.

By implementing successful programs in Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev is renewing regional cooperation formats. Azerbaijan`s development plays a key role in softening geopolitical situation and building a favourable business environment in the South Caucasus. In this context, the improvement of business environment in Azerbaijan is to the benefit of the South Caucasus.

The same cannot be said of Armenia because this outpost country is pursuing its egoistic and chauvinistic interests. This clearly manifests itself in the Armenian leaders` statements. Armenian politicians and experts are mainly speaking of the country`s ''historical'' claims on its neighbours` lands. They are preoccupied with occupation of others` lands and creation of a "Great Armenia''. While Azerbaijan is implementing grandiose energy, economic, transport and other projects that bring together many other countries, Armenia is thinking of how to disrupt this positive process.

How can such a country be set as an example of democracy and human rights protection? No way. Doing Business 2019 seems to call on the world to take a fair and unbiased attitude towards Azerbaijan.

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