In recent times, there have been very serious changes in the content and quality of the economy, one of which is the formation and development of the creative economy, in other words, the creative industry. Vasif Eyvazzade, Chairman of the Board of the Azerbaijan Creative Industries Federation, answered the questions of “vergiler.az” about the creative economy, which is a new concept for our country.
– Mr. Eyvazzade, what creative products and services are offered in Azerbaijan?
– The range of creative products is quite wide. If we look at it in a traditional context, art products, i.e. folk creativity – handicrafts, paintings, music services and products, audiovisual products and services, publishing products, photo services and products, museum, library, theater, conservation services, fashion clothing services and etc. is presented. From the modern context, creative products and services formed with the support of technology – design products and services, online advertising, media services, all types of services and products related to content, etc. is presented. There are a number of difficulties in accurately determining the economic power of this field, which is currently being worked on in this direction with state organizations.
– Which areas of creative economy are developing more in our country?
– Design, publishing and development of books, content-based SMM products, more precisely, marketing and startup-oriented creative are currently rapidly developing areas of the creative economy. The production of individual audiovisual products and their presentation on social platforms is also widespread. Considering that these fields are mostly preferred by young people, the economic and employment prospects of the creative industry are huge. In addition, the development of traditional crafts is also very promising. The revival of tourism in the post-pandemic period will increase the opportunities for providing services and products in this area, as well as for our citizens to receive income from it.
“Considering that these areas are preferred by young people, the creative industry
its prospects in terms of economy and employment are very large.
In addition, the development of traditional crafts is also very promising.“
– How to evaluate the current level of development of the creative economy?
– In Azerbaijan, this field has just become a part of industry or economy. The basic framework and content of the creative economy goes through the protection of intellectual property rights. If we evaluate the level of development, we must admit that we have to go a long way in terms of improving legal mechanisms, creating a favorable environment, and applying the practice of institutional partnership. That is, there is great potential, but favorable conditions for its monetization should be created. In this regard, we are in close contact with both KOBIA, the relevant structures of the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Culture, and the Intellectual Property Agency.
– What level of growth has been registered in the creative industry in recent years?
– It is possible to see certain increases in income and production, profitability and employment indicators for selected creative activity areas from the classification of economic activity types (IFNT) document of the State Statistics Committee. Incomes from the provision of goods, performance of works and provision of services in the fields of creative activities were 1 billion 89 million 459.4 thousand manats in 2017, 1 billion 285 million 607.7 thousand manats in 2018, 1 billion manats 732 million 839.8 thousand manats in 2019, 1 billion 368 million 360.3 thousand manats in 2020, and 1 billion 430 million 469.3 thousand manats in 2021. However, these figures do not represent the exact picture. According to information we received from the Intellectual Property Agency, the actual figures are higher. If we do not take into account the effects of the pandemic, the reason for the increase in the economic directions that are directly related to the creative industries and not directly related, but benefit from these areas in their activity, can be attributed to the importance given to advertising, marketing, design and SMM services, and the development of the tourism industry. The increase in technological solutions, the natural conditions created for national market participants in the field of creative industries to easily export their services to international markets can also be cited as a reason for the growth. Despite all this, there have been certain reductions in the development of creative industries, as well as in all fields, due to the forced social isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
– Are there relevant conditions important for the development of the creative economy in Azerbaijan?
– First, we must recognize that creative industries have the potential to create wealth and jobs based on individual creativity, skills and talent, or through property development or production. In this regard, the rich creative heritage of the Azerbaijani people, the existing multicultural environment in our country, the support of the diversity of cultural self-expression, the fact that the majority of the population is educated and has access to the Internet determine the existence of a fertile ecosystem for the development of these areas in the country. As another factor that creates the basis for the development of the creative economy, it is possible to mention the state support for the increase of non-oil exports, the introduction of innovations and the development of human capital against the background of economic diversification. In Azerbaijan, it is important to calculate the economic value of this field in a centralized form, to form systematic statistics, and to take concrete steps for the development of the field from the point of view of economic resources in general.
“First, we must recognize that creative industries have the potential to create wealth and jobs based on individual creativity, skills and talent, or through property development or production. In this regard, the rich creative heritage of the Azerbaijani people, the existing multicultural environment in our country, the support of the diversity of cultural self-expression, the fact that the majority of the population is educated and has access to the Internet determine the existence of a fertile ecosystem for the development of these areas in the country.“
– What is the share of the creative industry in Azerbaijan’s GDP? What should be done to increase the share of creative industry in GDP?
– We must admit that the lack of regular publication of comprehensive statistics on creative industries at the national level does not fully allow measuring the development processes of this sector. According to the report of UNCTAD, in 2014, Azerbaijan’s creative industries product import was 138.04 million, and its export was 3.95 million US dollars. As a result, a negative trade balance of 134.09 million US dollars was formed on creative industries. In 2017, the “Indicators of Cultural Development” report on Azerbaijan was prepared by the European Union to determine the share of creative industries in the economy of Azerbaijan. In the report, the share of creative industries in GDP for 2016 was officially 1%, i.e. 374 million US dollars.
In a study based on the Methodological Guidelines of the International Intellectual Property Organization conducted in 2019, it is reported that the share of the creative economy in Azerbaijan’s GDP in 2015 was 5.1%. The research shows that from 2003 to 2015 (including 2015), the growth of the creative industry increased from 220.5 million manats to 2 billion 815.9 million manats, i.e. 13 times. In other information, according to the 2020 indicators of income and production, as well as employment in the fields of creative activity, the income obtained from the fields of creative industries in our country is approximately 1.4 billion manats and its share is 1.88% in GDP. If we refer to Kamran Imanov, Chairman of the Management Board of the Intellectual Property Agency, the share of the creative industry in GDP was 3.5 percent in 2010, 5.1 percent in 2015, and 5.3 percent in 2020. and we will see that its share is 1.8 percent in 2010, 2.9 percent in 2015 and 2020. As can be seen from the different figures above, since the creative industries are not categorized as an economic bloc, the figures collected by the IFNT list show a different picture. Taking into account the international experience, the practice of collecting detailed statistical data in these industrial fields in Azerbaijan is based on dimensions in 7 main areas (economy, education, management, social inclusion, gender equality, communication and heritage protection) and UNESCO’s Culture, which includes 22 indicators in these dimensions. Reorganization should be considered in accordance with the Development Indicators methodological guide. The absence or weakness of professional organizations and associations, trade associations in the field of creative industries in our country does not allow to obtain detailed statistical indicators and development data on the fields. Systematic activities are needed to achieve comprehensive statistics on the sector. In particular, professional organizations should support the state in these matters, and the state, in turn, should increase support for the activities of professional organizations.
– How does the development of the creative industry affect people’s employment?
– In general, we are witnessing a serious quality and content change in the modern labor market. A number of professions are already leaving the market and being replaced by new professions, and this process directly affects educational processes. In this regard, it is necessary to carefully monitor the processes in the international labor market, and it is required to build future planning accordingly. Looking at European statistics, there was a total increase of more than 800,000 in creative employment between 2011 and 2017, from 7,852 million to 8,658 million. Considering the changes and digital transformation of the last five years, this indicator has increased even more. If we look at the national level, according to the indicators of 2020, 88,000 employees and individual entrepreneurs worked in creative industries in our country, and in 2021, this figure was 98,806. This is an indicator of creative activities and related economic activities. If we add to this the people working in creative professions in non-creative sectors, we can see an increase in GDP share and profitability indicators along with employment indicators. In order for this to be possible, it is necessary to implement the practice of collecting statistics based on the international experience I mentioned. In this case, it is necessary to develop national rules using international experience with the participation of relevant institutions. Another most important issue is the transformation in the attitude of today’s youth. In other words, young people all over the world have started to prefer freelance work. They are no longer offering their brains and services for a monthly fee, but for a daily and shorter period of time. Young people are building a new self-employment system in the labor market with modern technological tools. It is inevitable to consider this factor in the fields of economic policy and activity.
Interview prepared by: