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Increase in UK exports to Azerbaijan isn’t connected to Russia, says new report

By Jack Evans | March 19, 2024

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Sky analysis has found that over £40m worth of cars were sent to Azerbaijan in the first month of the year.

Increase in UK exports to Azerbaijan isn’t connected to Russia, says new report

The UK’s export of £40m worth of new cars to Azerbaijan in January has nothing to do with Russia, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has stated following a new investigation.

A new report by Sky News found that the UK’s exports to Russia remain at zero - where they have stood since 2022 when sanctions were imposed - some £43m worth of cars were sent to neighbouring Azerbaijan, a former Soviet state. The average value of cars sent to the country in January was just over £115,000, too.

As a result, Azerbaijan is in the top 12 export destinations for the UK, coming in above countries such as Switzerland, Canada and Spain.

However, a spokesperson from the SMMT told Sky News that Azerbaijan was a ‘flourishing market in its own right’ and that the car-buying economy had ‘increased due to a number of factors’ including the launch of new models and ‘pent-up demand’.

Official sanctions have seen UK carmakers stop selling cars to Russia since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, with a formal ban introduced to stop ‘dual use’ items which could be repurposed as weapons. There are also separate sanctions that ban the trade of cars worth over £42,000. The analysis by Sky News, however, found that during the same period during which British exports to Azerbaijan rose, there was a ‘near-simultaneous’ rise in car exports from the former Soviet state to Russia.

Since two years prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, the value of car exports to Azerbaijan has risen by more than 2,000 per cent, while the high average cost of these vehicles ‘suggests’ that they are mainly made up of luxury models.

The SMMT told Sky News: “Wherever the UK automotive industry exports, it is committed to compliance with all trade and economic sanctions, and continues to work closely with government and the new Office For Sanctions to ensure the effective implementation of the regulations.

"There is no evidence available of that commitment being compromised, and it is right to monitor for any potential vulnerabilities in a fast-moving and evolving environment.

"The automotive industry remains in dialogue with government and other international partners enforcing co-ordinated trade restrictions, to ensure adherence to both the letter and the spirit of the sanctions, across all vulnerable sectors."

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