Russia’s Chelyabinsk Makes Trade & Investment Moves Into Azerbaijan

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A delegation from Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast, together with Russia’s trade representative in Azerbaijan, Ruslan Mirsayapov and Head of the Russian Export Center’s representative office in Azerbaijan Nuri Guliyev have been looking at ways to increase direct trade with Azerbaijan.

Chelyabinsk is sited in Russia’s Ural Mountains region, on the border of Europe and Asia. Its capital city is also named Chelyabinsk, while the region’s population is about 4.2 million. Chelyabinsk is the seventh largest city in Russia and hit the headlines in 2013 when a 10,000 tonne meteorite exploded overhead and caused extensive damage. To the south, Chelyabinsk Oblast also borders Kazakhstan, meaning it can operate as a trade corridor between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in addition to increasing bilateral trade between Chelyabinsk and Baku. As can be seen from the Oblast flag, and its camel, Chelyabinsk has a long history as an ancient silk road transit hub.

Meetings took place in the Russian Export Center in Azerbaijan. The Chelyabinsk delegation, included CEOs of large local businesses such as Oil Service, Industrial Milling Systems, Sotis, Intersvyaz Ural, the Ural Automobile Plant, and Ural Oil and Gas Industry Equipment.

Chelyabinsk has a Muslim population of about 10%, and has long held trade ties with Islamic and Eastern nations – residents also practice Russian Orthodoxy in addition to Hinduism and Buddhism. In terms of trade relations with Azerbaijan, the largest companies in the region include Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant (Mechel group), Chelyabinsk Pipe Rolling Plant, Chelyabinsk Electrometallurgical Plant, Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant, and the Ashinsky Metallurgical Plant – meaning that Azerbaijan is a primary market for oil and gas drilling equipment as well as the working of other metallic products.

Chelyabinsk is linked to Russia’s Astrakhan and regional Caspian seaports by existing air, road and rail connections, making it a well-established corridor that can easily access Baku by ship.

Industries in Baku may also be interested in importing Chelyabinsk products for adding value – Baku sits at the hub of the new Middle corridor between Europe and Asia and can access markets in Turkiye and Europe to the West, as well as to Iran, the Middle East and South Asia via the INSTC.

The movements by Russian republics and regional governments to directly encourage new trade corridors is a growing sign of the need to break out of the previous reliance on European trade and seek new alliances as Russian trade flows are redirected elsewhere.

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