ArmInfo. Contrary to expectations Armenia's membership in the Eurasian Economic Union has not led to activation of investment climate yet, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments Hovhannes Azizyan stated at the Armenian parliament during the hearings on the "Economic component of Armenia's foreign policy" topic.
At the same time he noted that joining EEU has resulted in certain although not significant economic activity. The Deputy Minister noted that digital and innovative sectors are the most prospective for cooperation in the EEU as they do not require common borders for development of collaboration. "That is why currently we actively work on development of joint programs in these sectors", Azizyan noted.
However, he stressed that steps are also being made aimed at developing industrial cooperation within the EEU basing on the common approaches shared during the soviet times. "Concrete communication projects are also being developed aimed at making Armenia a transit country", the Deputy Minister noted.
Director of Eurasian Development Bank Office in Yerevan Sergey Ignatov in turn noted that the share of EEU countries in the total investments in Armenian economy accounts for 72%. "Russia has the major share in investments, which continue to increase. Investments from Kazakhstan make a small percentage", Ignatov noted.
Touching upon Armenia-European Union cooperation Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments Garegin Melkonyan stated that within 10 months of the current year growth of trade turnover with EU totaled only 1%. However, the export increased by 13.6%. "This indicator keeps growing", the Deputy Minister noted. He also informed that 1100 enterprises with European capital operate in Armenia. "With EU's support various programs are being implemented. Particularly, Program of cooperation of Black Sea region countries will be implemented soon, the budget of which totals 54 mln EUR", the Deputy Minister noted assuring that Armenia is an attractive country for foreign investments due to its balanced foreign policy and established friendly relations with Iran, Arab countries, countries of EU and EEU.
Minister of Economic Development and Investments Suren Karayan summarizing the Deputy Ministers' statements stressed that for activation of investment climate in Armenia it is necessary to hold meetings with potential foreign investors at least once in a month, in order to understand the problems they are concerned of and answer to their questions. According to Karayan a law on private investments should be developed aimed at boosting investments in the country's economy. Reforms in tax and customs fields will also stimulate business, and the results of these reforms will be felt quite soon according to the Minister. He stressed that the Armenian Development Fund will also assist the investors since the first days of their activities in Armenia. Karayan especially stressed the necessity to sign an agreement with Iran as soon as possible aimed at creating free economic zone with the EEU.
Acting Director of Armenian Development Fund Karen Mkrtchyan also assured that Armenia is an attractive country for investments in the context of macroeconomic stability, benefits provided in certain sectors of economy, cheap work force and state support to potential investors. "It should be also added that the country is on the crossroad of interests of the Eurasian Economic Union, Iran and the European Union and enjoys benefits within GSP+", he stated.
Head ofArmenia's Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Arsen Ghazaryan stated that without increasing the amount of domestic investments in the country's economy it will be impossible to reach increase of external investments. "Which foreign investor will invest in our economy, if we ourselves do not invest in it", he noted, stressing that for increasing domestic investments it is necessary to first and foremost reform the Tax Code, at least its 14 provisions. According to Ghazaryan in order to increase domestic investments equal competitive conditions should be created, infrastructures and communications should be improved. "It is vitally important to have an alternative road to Georgian road connecting Armenia with Russia and the EEU. This road is closed almost half of the year. An alternative road should be built through South Osetia. I realize that this task relates more to Russia and Georgia rather than to Armenia, however this issue should be solved", the businessman emphasized. According to him for activation of investment climate visa regime should be liberalized with certain countries, particularly with India and China. He also welcomed the idea of creating an integrated investment fund
The participants of the hearings also touched upon Nagorno Karabakh's economy. Thus, NKR representative Andranik Khachatryan stated that investing in Artsakh economy is quite promising considering favorable beneficial conditions created in the Republic. "For instance, each entrepreneur investing in Artsakh economy more than 100 mln drams is exempted from income tax for 5 years. Later investor pays 50% of the tax", he noted stressing that investments in Artsakh economy will be beneficial considering that mining industry, which has small risks, is well developed in the country.