Azerbaijan lays out plans for e-commerce growth at Baku forum

09 October 2018

A historic place on the Silk Road and full state support gives Azerbaijan an e-commerce boost as delegates to the first Baku E-Trade Forum found out.

With e-commerce becoming ever more critical for inclusive economic growth, Azerbaijan held its first e-trade event, organized with the European Union and UNCTAD, on 24–25 September.

In a video address opening the Baku E-Trade Forum, UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said that holding the event at this time was critical.

“Governments must take action to get more prepared for the digital era, and to do so in close dialogue with all relevant stakeholders,” Ms. Durant said.

Ramin Guluzade, Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies, said that Azerbaijan aspires to make the most of several advantages it has in e-commerce.

These include its place as a logistics hub on the Silk Road, a postal network for financial services, its increasing use of e-signature systems, the launch of a government data centre, measures to promote cloud services, and other factors.


Mr. Guluzade underscored the importance of developing a comprehensive national e-commerce strategy to build Azerbaijan’s capacity for e-commerce and socio-economic growth.

“In recent years, the ministry has taken major steps toward developing electronic commerce, including helping to ensure the formation of a digital ecosystem for e-commerce,” he said.

“There is a need to develop a national e-commerce strategy which will define the work to be done to help accelerate the development of electronic commerce in Azerbaijan.”

Azerbaijan has requested technical assistance from UNCTAD in developing its national e-commerce strategy.

Multi-stakeholder momentum

“The Baku E-Trade Forum is the first international e-commerce event in the Commonwealth of Independent States region and reflects the strong priority the government of Azerbaijan places on strengthening e-commerce,” said Azer Bayramov, Deputy Executive Director of the State Fund for Development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Mr. Bayramov was also chairperson of the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and the Digital Economy for its second session, held in April 2018.

The Baku E-Trade Forum brought together public and private sector and key international stakeholders to share and discuss what is needed to have the best e-commerce strategies for Azerbaijan and the Caucasus region.

Baku E-Trade Forum

Sessions addressed e-commerce-related issues identified by UNCTAD and the eTrade for all initiative, including building essential ICT infrastructure, payment solutions, trade facilitation and skills development.

“Small businesses which lack an online presence risk becoming increasingly marginalized and invisible as more and more economic activities move online,” said UNCTAD expert Marie Sicat.

The World Trade Organization’s Lee Tuthill added: “Telecommunications is the infrastructure of infrastructures because other infrastructure sectors such as banking, insurance, transport, logistics and delivery rely so heavily on telecommunications networks today.”

About 400 local and foreign attendees representing 20 countries from the region attended the two-day forum. It featured sessions with speakers from key government agencies, public organizations, micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, investors and start-ups, as well as experts representing the European Union, UNCTAD, the World Trade Organization, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Trade Centre, the International Telecommunication Union, UNCITRAL, the Universal Postal Union and others.

At a parallel exhibition, the forum also assembled representatives from crucial e-commerce platforms and nearly 40 payment service providers for the first time in Azerbaijan.