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Banking

Azerbaijan at the crossroads

Lower oil prices and a lack of international finance have given the country the slack it needs to diversify. But will it grab the opportunity or go the way of other resource-rich Asian states? Nick Lord reports from Baku.

THERE IS AN old adage that says countries should never let a good crisis go to waste. For Azerbaijan, the recent global upheaval has forced new thinking on two interconnected aspects of its economy: how to diversify away from its oil dependency and in the process how to shore up its fragmented banking system.

The choices it makes will define the future of the country for decades. Diversifying an economy is difficult because just sitting back and letting all the oil money flow in is so easy. To establish domestic business and an economic life that is not dependent on hydrocarbons requires a great deal of commitment.

Many bankers and international observers operating in the country say that commitment is definitely there.

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