Monday, October 24 2016 14:07
Naira Badalian

Armenia and EU announce EU4Business Week in Armenia

Armenia and EU announce EU4Business Week in Armenia

ArmInfo. Head of the European  Union Delegation to Armenia, H.E. Piotr Antoni Switalski and the RA  First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments,  Garegin Melkonyan announced today the launch of the EU4Business Week  in Armenia during the opening of the Eastern Partnership 8th Business  Development Panel in Yerevan.

Running from 24 to 28 October 2016, the EU4Business Week will  highlight the EU support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)  through series of events and include other activities facilitating  private-public dialogue for the benefit of businesses both in the  Eastern partner countries and in Armenia.

Within the EU4Business Initiative the EU together with its partners  that are implementing EU-funded projects organized EU4Business Week  for the second time during 2016. The week started with the panel  discussion on 'Investing in SMEs in the Eastern partnership counties'  and continued with the press conference with participation of the  Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Switalski and  Armenian Deputy Minister of Investment and Development, Garegin  Melkonyan.

H.E. Piotr Antoni Switalski, Ambassador, Head of the European Union  Delegation to the Republic of Armenia said  'EU4Business Week  starting today for the entire week, makes Armenia the centre of  various events and activities that highlight EU's role in supporting  economic development, innovation and businesses in the entire Eastern  Partnership. It is very symbolic to launch the week by the Business  Development Panel. SMEs provide the vast majority of the job  opportunities, therefore the economic opportunities linked to SMEs  should also be significant. This initiative launched is a strong  signal for the EU commitment to support businesses, for the direct  benefit of real economy and increasing the country's and the region's  competitiveness'.

Ambassador Switalski said the Armenian SME sector is very promising,  as it accounts for 30% of total GDP and involved 30% of the total  population. In European countries this indicator reach 60%-70%, the  ambassador. 

"For the EU this week is one of the most important weeks in our  annual activities. We believe that economic resilience is very  important for us and countries like Armenia, and we pay particular  attention to supporting economic development, offering best  possibilities for cooperation both regionally and the EU.  This week  is full of events and we started it with the economic panel focused  on creativity and innovation.  The agenda is very busy and every day  we'll have different discussions, conferences, meetings related to  business development in Armenia," Piotr Switalski said.

In his words, after the meeting with Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan,  he can reaffirm the mutual readiness to develop economic cooperation  to achieve a maximum possible result for the economy of Armenia. He  outlined a number of factors necessary for development: fair and  equal conditions for business, rule of law, anti-corruption measures,  and accessible financing for SME.  Otherwise, he said, all the other  initiatives will remain on paper. The ambassador said foreign  investments will also help speed up the economic growth in Armenia.

First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments Garegin  Melkonyan said: "On behalf of the Government of the Republic of  Armenia, Ministry of Economic Development and Investments and on my  behalf, I welcome the launch of the EU4Business Week in Yerevan and  extend my gratitude to our European partners for this outstanding  initiative. Armenia attaches great importance to the EU assistance  provided to partner countries within the framework of the Eastern  Partnership for the implementation of the economic reforms with a  special focus on ensuring and deepening of bilateral and multilateral  cooperation. The competitive and effective small and medium-sized  enterprises are one of the most important preconditions for the  economic development in our country. Today's conference is also  important in terms of the implementation of the "EU4Business"  initiative, given the fact that it will be succeeded by a series of  other events aimed at the development and strengthening of economic  enterprises and especially SMEs. They will include bilateral and  regional programmes aimed at the development of private sector and  SMEs. These events reaffirm our mutual interest and common objective  to foster successful implementation of the joint programme and move  forward with enlarging and deepening our cooperation."

The 8th Business Development Panel opened today focuses on innovation  as an essential tool for boosting competitiveness both on regional  and national level. The panel will also officially launch the pilot  version of the EU4Business Website aiming at making EU support to  Businesses more accessible and visible. Country specific EU4Business  webpages in local languages will follow shortly.  Implemented by  EBRD, the workshop on SME finance on 26 October focuses on  instruments of creating value for small businesses, as well as  providing insights into cashflow analysis, private equity, debt and  credit risk analysis as essential tools to mitigate financial risks,  attract investment and achieve greater success in SME development.  The East Invest 2 Annual Partner Conference on 27 October will  highlight public-private dialogue as a vehicle for business reforms.  The EU4Business week concludes with an official launch of the Small  and Medium Enterprises Development in Armenia (SMEDA) on 28 October.  All events will be attended by Armenia's development partners,  international organisations and representatives of the EU-funded  projects.  In addition, during this week on October 26-27, for the  first time in Armenia, a high level international conference  "Fostering Sustainable Development in Eastern Partnership countries"  also takes place. Representatives of central, regional and local  authorities will gather in Yerevan to discuss new EU initiatives and  instruments for sustainable urban development and best practices for  successful modernisation of urban infrastructure in the Eastern  Partnership countries. The conference will feature a signing ceremony  with 25 Mayors of new signatory cities from EaP countries to join the  new Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy including 4 from  Armenia.  To recall, in a recent interview to ArmInfo Piotr Switalski  noted that 2016 will be a record-breaking year in terms of EU's  financial assistance to Armenia, which usually totals around 50 mln  EUR, but this year this amount may be doubled. This is an important  year for defining medium-term and long-term perspectives, he  stressed. EU plans to invest 1 mln EUR to SMEs this year.

According to the National Statistics Service of Armenia in H1 2016  net outflow of investments from Armenia to EU countries totaled 5.2  bln drams, while net inflow of FDI- 2.6 bln drams. Trade turnover  between Armenia and EU in Jan-Aug 2016 reached $762.5mln, with 0.4%  y-o-y growth. Export totaled $307.6mln, with 13.8% y-o-y growth, amid  drop of import by 7% to $454.8 mln.

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