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Aliyev: Azerbaijan needs non-oil growth

Feb. 13, 2009 at 9:30 AM

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Azerbaijan needs to advance in competitive areas in the non-oil sector in order to reduce dependency on the energy market, the Azeri president said.

"We should increase attention to the establishment of competitive areas of production in order to lower Azerbaijan's dependence on oil production and oil prices," President Ilham Aliyev told Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

He said the role of his country in the regional energy sector was in line with national objectives, but Azerbaijan needs to put a greater emphasis on other areas that are just as important as the oil sector.

Aliyev hailed the job growth in the non-oil sector as a major achievement in economic and social reform, pointing to the creation of more than 500,000 new jobs in the past five years.

"All these show that the social program and economic reforms carried out in our country are effective," he said.

Azerbaijan sits on major energy reserves, notably in offshore fields in the Caspian Sea. It also hosts several major oil and pipelines.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says Azerbaijan produced roughly 860,000 barrels of oil per day in 2007.

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