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.