gaining independence in 1991, Azerbaijan became a member of the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development, the Islamic Development Bank and the Asian Development
Bank. The banking system of Azerbaijan consists of the National Bank
of Azerbaijan, commercial banks and non-banking credit organizations.
The National Bank was created in 1992 based on the Azerbaijan State
Savings Bank, an affiliate of the former State Savings Bank of the USSR.
The National Bank serves as Azerbaijan's central bank, empowered to
issue the national currency, the Azerbaijani manat, and to supervise
all commercial banks. Two major commercial banks are the state-owned
International Bank of Azerbaijan and the United Universal Joint-Stock
is also an important economic hub in the transportation of raw materials.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) became operational in May 2006
and extends more than 1,774 kilometers through the territories of Azerbaijan
(440 km), Georgia (260 km) and Turkey (1114 km). The BTC is designed
to transport up to 50 million tons of crude oil annually and carries
oil from the Caspian Sea oilfields to global markets. The South Caucasus
Pipeline, also stretching through the territory of Azerbaijan, Georgia
and Turkey, became operational at the end of 2006 and offers additional
gas supplies to the European market from the Shah Deniz gas field. It
is expected to produce up to 296 billion cubic metres of natural gas
per year. Azerbaijan also plays a major role in the EU-sponsored Silk