Record breaking indicators for export and improved investment index. Business Armenia reports its results
/Feb 1/

YEREVAN – Business Armenia submitted its activity  report of 2018 to the board of trustees, Business Armenia foundation told Armenpress.

The foundation secured a record breaking 6.8 Billion AMD export contracts, last year. For a single 1 dram spent, 26.4 drams were received. With the support of Business Armenia, 116 Armenian companies participated in 10 international exhibitions, finding major international buyers.

In 2018, the index of (re)investments has also improved: around $21.1 million in contrast with the last year’s 15, and 0 of the proceeding. Business Armenia team has met with nearly 392 potential investors last year for conferences, outreach campaigns, business events etc. signing memorandum of understanding on investment of $350 million, as a result. Among the foreign investors are ATLAS R&D Inc., VHL Developments Inc., Ecotechprom LLC, Maatalouskauppa Online Oy, Arad Agricultural Machinery, New Yida, Arga Eurosteel, Ghalbourjian Group.

“At the end of the year, a new system service called One Window, which has also expanded the scope of Business Armenia’s support, was implemented. From now on, the foundation will double its efforts in IT, renewable energy, and other sectors of the economy”, Armen Avak Avakian, CEO of Business Armenia Foundation in 2017-2018, said.

Business Armenia team also provided a support with the organizational works of the events of Francophonie Economic Forum on 10th of October 2018, and the EAEU biggest annual business event Eurasian Week, on 22-24th of October.

Armenians highly appreciate EU’s role in ongoing reforms – survey shows
/Feb 1/

YEREVAN – Citizens of Armenia highly appreciate the role of the European Union in the ongoing economic and political reforms in Armenia, according to a survey.

Stepan Grigoryan, President of the Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation presented results of a survey conducted jointly with the National Foundation of Democracy.

“Despite the fact that the Armenian velvet revolution didn’t have a geopolitical orientation, the positive mood of Armenians towards the EU is associated with the fact that during the independence years the EU has been quite active here, the EU and European countries are providing the Armenian civil society with serious assistance,” Grigoryan said.

The goal of the poll was to study the attitude of Armenian citizens towards international organizations such as the EU, the EEU, CSTO and NATO.

Comparing to surveys of previous years, Grigoryan noted that the new results show that the stance of Armenians for Russia has become more positive.

“If in 2017 only 25,67% of respondents were saying that Russia is ensuring Armenia’s security, then already in 2018 this number grew and reached 30,28%. If in 2017 only 40,11% of respondents positively assessed Russia’s role in the NK conflict settlement talks, then in 2018 this number grew more than 8%,” he said.

According to Grigoryan, confidence of Armenians for the CSTO and the EEU has grown.

The survey shows that an idea of a multi-vector foreign policy is dominating, therefore the majority of the respondents also have trust for NATO. “Just like in 2017, in 2018 the number of citizens who partly associate the peaceful settlement of the NK conflict with close cooperation with the EU and NATO is also rather high,” he said.

The survey was conducted in six Armenian cities – Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Martuni, Vayk and Yeghegnadzor.

The survey was conducted anonymously among 796 people using questionnaires during August-September 2018

World Bank promises support to Armenia in resolving logistics and transportation problems
/Feb 5/ARKA/

YEREVAN – The World Bank has pledged to support Armenia in resolving logistics and cargo transportation problems, the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments said following a meeting between Minister Tigran Khachatryan and a World Bank team, led by Victor Aragones.
Khachatryan and Aragones were said to have discussed such  issues as  accessibility of transport hubs, as well as the current state and problems of logistics in Armenia.
The ministry said a set of analytical studies will be used to prepare relevant recommendations  Khachatryan also noted that the ministry is ready to support the preparation of a relevant report. It said the minister and the World Bank Country Director for Armenia Sylvie Bossoutrot also discussed other issues and cooperation programs.

Armenia’s soap production grows strongly
/Feb 5/Panorama/

Armenia saw a strong growth in soap production in 2018, the latest statistics show.

The country produced a total of 715.3 tons of soap from January to December last year, up by 84.9% from 2017, learned from the Statistical Committee of Armenia.

Meantime, production of washing, cleaning and starching agents increased by 3.1% to 4,030.8 tons last year from the previous year’s 3,910.4 tons. 

Armenia: Food prices go up by 3.8% in January Armenia: Food prices go up by 3.8% in January
/Feb 5/

YEREVAN. – Increasing prices for food and non-alcoholic beverage drove the inflation rate higher in Armenia this January.

A 1.7 percent inflation was recorded in consumer market in January as compared with December after the prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages went up by 3.8 percent, the data provided by the national statistical service shows.

In Yerevan consumer prices went up by 1.2 percent.

Armenian government: Tax policy has to be aimed at increasing investment attractiveness Armenian government: Tax policy has to be aimed at increasing investment attractiveness
/Feb 6/

YEREVAN. – Tax policy has to be aimed at increasing the investment attractiveness of the economy and the level of economic activity, creating prerequisites for an increase in the share of exports and long-term economic growth, as well as redistribution of public goods and budget sustainability, the program of the Armenian government says.

“It is important to create a fair and predictable environment for investors. A policy to reduce the burden of direct taxes will be pursued to promote economic growth. Thus, profitability will increase, as well as investment incentives in the export sector. The government will reduce and establish a uniform tax rate on profits, gradually reducing it. Dividends of foreign individuals will be taxed at lower rates, as is the case with citizens of Armenia,” the program says.

The government pledges to expand the geography of agreements that exclude double taxation and to exclude shadow economy. The tax authority must act in such a way that taxpayers could not and did not seek to hide taxes. The tax authority should not once again interfere in the activities of taxpayers. The taxpayer should realize that it is honourable to pay taxes.

The business community will always be informed about the content of the reforms and the competitive advantages of Armenia. The process of transition to the customs border will be simplified, and the time required for transit will be reduced, the program says.

Volume of mortgage loans provided by Armenian banks increases – Pashinyan presents details
/Feb 8/

YEREVAN – During 2018 the volume of mortgage loans provided by the Armenian banks surpassed the figure of 2017 by 20%, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Facebook, reports Armenpress.

The PM said after the revolution the banks, in fact, have provided as much mortgage loans as in the whole 2017, and the bank interest rates are constantly decreasing.

“Moreover, the mortgage lending growth rate increases especially under the influence of the government’s decisions. The growth within the frames of Apartment for Youth program comprised 41% in November 2018 against November 2017, 85% in December 2018 against December 2017, 131% in January 2019 against January 2018. 131% – this means that free, young citizen of Armenia is linking his/her future with the homeland, exclusively with the own homeland”, Nikol Pashinyan said.

Private sector interested in making concrete investments in education system, says PM Pashinyan
/Feb 8/

YEREVAN – One of the most important processes taking place in Armenia in the past months are the signs of rebirth of professional education. By the mediation and encouragement of the government dozens of private companies sign contracts with the state colleges for preparing specialists for them, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Facebook, Armenpress reports.

He stated that this means that the private sector is interested in making concrete investments in the education system, providing material-technical support to the colleges in order to prepare cadres necessary for these companies.

“This means that at least majority of the graduates will have a guaranteed job. The happiest part is that this process is also being carried out in the provinces. Currently nearly two dozen contracts have been signed in the fields of textile, tourism, food industry, design and etc. Signing of nearly dozens more contracts is expected in the near future. I call on all private companies to closely cooperate with the ministry of education and science, the government to expand this extremely positive process”, Nikol Pashinyan said.

By approval of government’s Action Plan, we announce launch of economic revolution’ – Pashinyan
/Feb 8/

YEREVAN – According to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, by the approval of the government’s Action Plan the stage of economic revolution begins in Armenia, reports Armenpress.

“As the government’s Action Plan has been released two days ago, there were some reactions over which we also launched a discussion in the government which helped us to once again record that this Action Plan is in full accordance with our conceptual visions. The following point is very important for our conceptual vision: we have declared the concept of economic revolution, by this Action Plan we announce the launch of economic revolution noting that the government’s function is the same as that of the peaceful, velvet revolution in Armenia: that is to create opportunities. Government considers itself one of the key participants of this process and is ready with its steps to encourage the citizens to use these opportunities”, the PM said during today’s extraordinary session.

He added that people must have a chance to see and touch the opportunities provided by the government with the respective tools of use.

The Armenian government approved its Action Plan during today’s extraordinary session. It will submit the Action Plan to the Parliament as prescribed by law.

The Action Plan was presented during the government’s February 6 session, but was not approved because new proposals were received.

According to the Constitution of Armenia, the Parliament approves the government’s Action Plan within seven days by the majority of votes of the total number of MPs.

Government set to submit structural amendments bill to parliament
/Feb 8/

YEREVAN – Soon the government will submit to parliament a bill on its new structure, PM Nikol Pashinyan said at the Cabinet meeting today.

He said the bill will be ready today.

Pashinyan said soon the government will also submit the new tax code and several related legislative initiatives to parliament. The PM highlighted the importance of the tax code.

The new structure of the government is expected to re-organize the Cabinet. According to an earlier released suggestion, the number of ministries was to be reduced, with some current ones merging into one another, or being downgraded into departments under other ministries. The purpose of the amendments is to increase efficiency of public administration.

Armenia to introduce the position of chief commissioner for Diaspora
/Feb 8/MediaMax/

Yerevan – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced that the discussions on the government structure are completed.

Pashinyan on reducing the number of ministries: The aim isn’t to save money

 “Armenia will have twelve ministries. Prime Minister’s staff will include a chief commissioner for Diaspora affairs, who is going to serve as the Prime Minister’s representative in contacts with the Diaspora and manage Armenia-Diaspora relations on behalf of the PM,” Pashinyan said in a Facebook post.

The changes to the government structure include the merge of Ministry of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources with the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure.

Transport and high technologies will be managed by different bodies after the foundation of a ministry of high technologies and military industry.

The Ministry of Agriculture will be included in the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments.

The ministries of culture and sport are supposed to form parts of the Ministry of Education and Science.

The new government structure first must be approved by the National Assembly of Armenia.

Exports of products and services last year grew to 38% of Armenia’s GDP
/Feb 8/ARKA/

YEREVAN, Preliminary results of 2018 show that exports of products and services last year grew to 38% of Armenia’s GDP, Minister of Economic Development and Investments Tigran Khachatryan said today after an emergency Cabinet session.
He said their share in GDP will reach 43-45% in case of ensuring 8-10% annual export growth. According to him, under the government’s program for the next five years, adopted today by the Cabinet, export of products and services should become an engine of the Armenian economy. Khachatryan also said that according to preliminary data, the amount of net investments in the economy is 18-19% of GDP.
He stressed that this figure should reach 23-25% of GDP by 2023, which is a prerequisite for long-term and sustainable growth.
According to the National Statistical Committee, in 2018, exports amounted to $2.411.9 billion, having grown by 7.8% from the previous year.

Հայաստանը ռեկորդային առաջընթաց է գրանցել. Փաշինյան
/Feb 9/

Վարչապետ Նիկոլ Փաշինյանը Facebook-ի իր էջում գրում է.

«Դավոսի համաշխարհային տնտեսական ֆորումի՝ շուկայի կենտրոնացվածության (մոնոպոլիզացվածության) աստիճանը բնութագրող ցուցանիշով 2018 թվականին Հայաստանը ռեկորդային առաջընթաց է գրանցել՝ 9 կետով եւ հայտնվել 19-րդ հորիզոնականում:

Սա նշանակում է, որ միջազգային հանրությունը ճանաչում է, որ 2018 թվականին մենք լրջագույն հաջողությունների ենք հասել մենաշնորհների դեմ պայքարում: Նշված ցուցանիշը կարեւորագույն ազդակ է պոտենցիալ ներդրողների համար, ովքեր կարող են տեսնել, որ Հայաստանը հակամենաշնորհային առումով աշխարհի լավագույն 20-յակի մեջ է»:

Economy minister projects up to 35% higher income for citizens in 5 years
/Feb 9/

YEREVAN – Minister of Economic Development and Investments Tigran Khachatryan argues that an “economic revolution” is when everyone has the chance to think, create and work freely.

The minister made the remarks after today’s Cabinet meeting when asked by reporters to elaborate on the 5% economic growth projected in the government’s Action Plan, and to specify what exactly is “revolutionary” about the program.

“This means that participants of the economic life must carry out the economic revolution, the government is one important organizer and participant in this big game and is obliged to act in a way so that there will be no obstructions on the path of businesses realizing their initiatives, and to provide assistance. This is a very important change and it is a revolution,” the minister said.

Addressing criticism on the Action Plan being a repetition of the previous one, he said: “Perhaps you won’t find too many differences in terms of content, but you will indeed find differences of emphases, what matters is what emphases the government is making and what actions it is doing in those directions. Equal competition, free access to markets and freedoms to work aren’t simply words, but also work, and this must be depended, we don’t believe that all issues are solved”.

Speaking about unemployment he said if growth will be at an average of 5% it will enable 17-18 thousand people to have jobs, even if productivity doesn’t increase within the economy.

Khachatryan argues that since the growth will be inclusive, ordinary citizens will 30-35 years later have higher income than today.

Minister Khachatryan is confident volume of investments will reach 23-25% of GDP in 2023
/Feb 8/

YEREVAN – According to the government’s Action Plan, the investment volume in 2023 must reach 23-25% of the GDP, Minister of economic development and investments Tigran Khachatryan told reporters after today’s Cabinet meeting, reports Armenpress.

“This is a key precondition in the world comparisons that ensure sustainable growth grounds, but currently that level will be nearly 18-19%. Our desire is to ensure such conditions for growth to be greatly higher, but everything must have a base, and the investments are that base. If the government manages to stabilize the investments in the mentioned range, and the government will do everything to succeed, be sure that growth will be higher in the subsequent period”, the minister noted.

We have serious plans in construction sphere – Pashinyan convenes consultation with constructors
/Feb 8/

YEREVAN – Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a consultative meeting to discuss the development trends and the prospects in the field of construction. The meeting was attended by the heads of the agencies concerned and developers’ representatives, ARMENPRESS was informed from the Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia. 

Opening the meeting, Prime Minister Pashinyan noted that the Government has many serious projects to implement in the sphere of construction. “We can witness serious activity in the field of mortgage lending, which suggests that it should lead to increased investment in construction. We also have many serious projects associated with the operations of water reservoirs in Armenia as it is one of our strategic priorities, and we need to accumulate water resources in order to ensure the country’s sustainable development without drawing on Lake Sevan.

We have serious plans in the field of road construction since the quality of domestic infrastructures raises specific concerns, and we are facing a problem as regards the level and quality of infrastructures and highways. I hope that today we will discuss all those issues faced in the field of construction so that we can solve the problem of our future co-operation and synchronization in all these areas,” the Prime Minister said.

The meeting next focused on the furtherance of public-private partnership, provision of infrastructures by developers, the introduction of an integrated cadastre system, promotion of local companies, legislative and pricing mechanisms in construction, the applicable regulatory framework and a number of other issues.

The representatives of developing companies touched upon the prospects of cooperation in the areas mentioned by Prime Minister Pashinyan and expressed readiness to discuss the opportunities.

Nikol Pashinyan stressed that the Government is keen to ensure continued improvement of construction, which in turn will boost the development process in our country and will help improve Armenia’s position in the Doing Business rating list. The Premier told the government officials in charge to discuss the proposals with the developers and stakeholders.

The parties agreed to hold similar meetings on a regular basis.

Pashinian Defends New Government Program
/Feb 8/RFE/RL Armenian Report/By Naira Nalbandian

Armenia’s government formally approved its five-year policy program on Friday, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian saying that it marks the beginning of an “economic revolution” promised by him.

 “We have declared the concept of an economic revolution and with this program are announcing the start of the economic revolution,” Pashinian told a cabinet meeting in Yerevan.

The program was submitted to the Armenian parliament later in the day. Its almost certain approval by the National Assembly will amount to a vote of confidence in Pashinian’s cabinet reappointed after the December 9 parliamentary elections.

Opposition politicians and commentators have already criticized the 70-page action plan, saying that it is short on specifics. They point to few socioeconomic targets that have been set by the government for the next five years.

Pashinian mentioned “certain reactions” to the program. He insisted that the document “fully corresponds” to his vision for the country’s future which was acked by the majority of voters in the recent elections.

Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian indicated that the government will set more detailed targets for various spheres after the program is approved by the parliament.

For his part, Economic Development Minister Tigran Khachatrian said that the program already commits the government to achieving a number of key economic indicators. He singled out a government pledge to increase the share of exports in Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product from 38 percent to at least 43 percent by 2023.

 “That can happen if our exports grow by 8-10 percent annually,” Khachatrian told reporters. “This is a fairly high and ambitious target.”

The program also says that the Armenian economy will grow by at least 5 percent annually thanks to government efforts to improve the business environment, spur exports and attract more foreign investment. It promises “substantial” decreases in poverty and unemployment but sets no concrete targets.

Pashinian announced later on Friday that he has made a final decision on the new structure of his government. In particular, he said, the number of government ministries will be reduced as planned from 17 to 12.