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MOSCOW, August 5. /TASS/. Russia and Azerbaijan will encourage business of the two countries to transfer mutual payments in national currencies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Azertac news agency.
"We will continue our work to create an environment that would encourage our companies to switch to carrying out mutual settlements in national currencies," Putin said, adding that "at present, these are mostly performed in USD."
According to Putin, "the adverse and challenging environment of the world economy has impacted" business cooperation between Moscow and Baku.
"Nevertheless, Azerbaijan ranks fifth in Russia's foreign trade with the CIS countries (following Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan). At the same time, Russia is a leading importer of Azerbaijani goods," the president said.
According to the Federal Customs Service of Russia, in 2015 Azerbaijan-Russia trade turnover shrank by 30% to $2.8 bln compared to $4 bln in 2014, Putin said.
"This year we have not managed to reverse the situation yet: in January-May mutual trade amounted to $568.5 mln, which is 52.8% less compared to the same period of 2015," he added.
According to Russian President, "an upsurge in the supply to Russia of Azerbaijani agricultural products, which are in demand on our market, as well as an upturn in exports from Russia to Azerbaijan of fertilizers and agricultural machinery necessary for the expansion of cultivation areas could all play a significant role in increasing mutual trade."
Also, Moscow expects "full implementation of Uralvagonzavod's plans to supply railway vehicles to Azerbaijan, Krasnoe Sormovo's plans to build and deliver two tankers for the Azerbaijani State Caspian Sea Shipping Company, as well as plans to launch joint pharmaceutical production with the participation of the Russian R-Pharm group of companies," Putin said.
"Enhanced mutual trade in services in such fields as transport, the financial sector, insurance, telecommunications, culture and recreation could become yet another important track in the development of trade and economic ties," he said, as "today, they already add nearly 20% ($0.5 bln) to the total turnover."
Despite a drop in trade turnover, Russia and Baku still witness rather stable investment cooperation development, President said. "Today, some 600 Russian companies operate in the Azerbaijani market, with about 200 of them with 100-percent Russian capital. Besides, Russia's direct investment in Azerbaijan amounts to about $1.4 billion," he said.
"There is no doubt that the current troubles in our bilateral trade and economic relations are but temporary. We are convinced that through concerted efforts and in close partnership we will be able to set our mutual trade on a path of sustainable growth," Putin said.