Q: The center’s aim is assisting the government of Armenia in identifying long-term strategic vision for the country. Is there any sense yet of what this vision should consist of? What should be its core tenets?
A: The government of Armenia has undertaken fundamental reforms in the country with an ultimate goal to have a sustainable, growing and innovating economy. Improving the country’s business environment, promoting investments, increasing exports, developing human capital and reducing unemployment are the main priorities of the Armenian government’s current agenda.
Today, the Republic of Armenia has one of the most open investment regimes among the CIS countries and has a number of competitive advantages, particularly a cost-efficient, skilled and educated workforce, low business costs, favourable investment legislation, easy access to regional markets, and so on. As a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, Armenia is benefiting from free market access to Russia and other member countries. At the same time Armenia has a very preferential GSP+ trade regime from the EU, preferential GSPs from number of countries. Our friendly relations with Iran and economic ties create a good opportunity for businesses to enter the Iranian market via Armenia.
Q: The focal point is in taking forward the long-term strategic reforms in Armenia, and supporting their implementation. What reforms do you consider to be most crucial? And will the reform process carry on regardless of election outcomes?
A: The elections are over and the people have given the government a mandate to make changes and reforms in the country. There is no single area where reform is not required. We need to upgrade at every level.
In the framework of the implemented reforms, we intend to install modern mechanisms to improve the investment and business climate in Armenia, and to define more precisely the guarantees provided to foreign investors for ensuring equal and fair conditions for local and foreign businesses.
We will implement some core steps toward developing and encouraging businesses, such as monitoring the implementation of legal norms restricting economic activity and competition between economic entities, implementing measures aimed at eliminating the identified obstacles, creating a predictable and perceptible economic environment for economic entities, and establishing a more effective institutional platform for co-operation with representatives of the business community,
In terms of promoting exports, we are considering the revision and modernisation of industrial policy on export, activating economic co-operation with regional partnering states, and creating a field promoting the entry of supranational corporations in Armenia. For example, starting from this year we are planning to reduce the time limits for return of VAT, improve export insurance, and introduce new instruments for constraining monetary risks (i.e. derivative financial instruments).
We believe that through effective reforms, protection, dignity, quality of life and optimism for the future will be ensured for every citizen of the Republic of Armenia.
Q: What role does (or should have) the Armenian diaspora have in shaping the country’s strategic vision?
A: A month ago our Prime Minister, Karen Karapetyan, made a call to the Diaspora and I would like to answer your question with a quote from this call: “Armenia and the Diaspora are two inseparable parts of a whole – linked to each other through one stretch of history, with one destiny and with the concern about the future of the homeland. We are responsible for one another, and this compels us to combine our efforts, multiply our potential, and fix our posture in global affairs. We have no other option than the imperative to build a great country and to have a righteous and powerful homeland.” I think one could not answer your question more precisely.