Azerbaijan – driving a hard bargain
Azerbaijan is a republic in the Caucasus region, bordered by Russia, Armenia, Iran, Turkey and the Caspian Sea. The country has an estimated population of 9.5 million and its capital and largest city is Baku.
There is no official religion and all major political forces in the country are secularist, but the majority of people are Muslim. Azerbaijan was the first Muslim-majority country to have operas, theatres and modern universities. The literacy rate is high while unemployment is low, however corruption is still seen to be a problem, especially in the public sector.
The country is famed for its oil springs and natural gas resources. At the beginning of the 20th century, Azerbaijan was supplying almost half the world’s oil. This is no longer the case but oil export revenues have funded infrastructure projects and boosted living standards.
Azerbaijan has the largest agricultural basin in the region and focuses on growing green vegetables, cotton and viticulture. Grain, potatoes, sugar beets and tobacco are grown in some areas, and livestock and dairy products also important farm products.
Tourism is an important part of the economy of Azerbaijan and recently Azerbaijan has become a popular destination for religious, spa, and health care tourism. It is a national strategy to make tourism a major contributor to the Azerbaijani economy.
The majority of Azerbaijani women have jobs outside the home, however in spite of Azerbaijan being the first Muslim country to enfranchise women (in 1918), women are under-represented in high-level jobs, including top business positions. There are few opportunities for entrepreneurship because women often cannot access finance.
Business culture in Azerbaijan is formal. To arrange a meeting, an introductory letter is needed outlining your company, history and the purpose of your visit. It is always a good idea to have such correspondence translated into Azeri to ensure that your hosts understand your intentions.
Never appear impatient or attempt to rush an Azeri to make a decision, and expect a great deal of bargaining and haggling – Azeris are tough negotiators.
Share your Azerbaijani business experiences
Sources: Wikipedia, BBC.com, Kwintessential
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