ArmInfo.The World Bank updated the forecast on foreign trade of Armenia for 2019, expecting acceleration of export growth to 5.1% (instead of the previously expected 8.8%) and a slowdown in the rise of imports to 4.2% (instead of the previously expected 12.2%), against export growth of 7.8% and imports of 21.1% recorded in 2018.
For 2020, the WB predicts almost the same growth in exports and imports - by 6.8% and 6.7%, respectively (instead of the previously expected 9.4% and 11.4%, respectively), and by 2021 expects an acceleration of the upward export pace and imports up to 7% and 7.2% respectively. A new forecast is given in the WB economic report published on October 9, "Migration and Brain Drain. World Bank Europe and Central Asia Economic Update''.
At the same time, in the updated forecast, the WB improved expectations for Armenia's GDP growth for 2019 and 2020 - 5.5% and 5.1% respectively (instead of the previously expected 4.2% and 4.9% respectively), against the actual growth in 2018 by 5.2% to 6.003 trillion drams ($ 12.4 billion).
The WB report notes: ''Lower oil prices could negatively impact Russia, one of Armenia's main economic partners, which would affect exports, putting pressure on the exchange rate and inflation. Domestically, addressing the stillhigh poverty rate and low income over the medium term will require a concerted effort to restructure the economy toward a sustainable export-led growth path. Doing so will require an efficient government, better connectivity, reliable infrastructure, and investment in human capital. The strong commitment of the government to reduce corruption, improve the business environment, and make the country more attractive for investment provides an opportunity for a vibrant response from Armenia's private sector''.
According to the RA Statistical Committee, in total, the foreign trade turnover of Armenia slowed down growth in January-December 2018 to 16.4% from 26.9% in January-December 2017, amounting to $ 7.4 billion. In particular, exports slowed down growth from 25.2% up to 7.8%, amounting to $ 2.4 billion, and imports - from 27.8% to 21.1%, amounting to $ 4.96 billion. In foreign trade turnover of Armenia as a whole, and in export and import in particular, Russia holds the lead by a large margin. Thus, the annual growth in foreign trade between Armenia and Russia in January-December 2018 slowed to 11.2% from last year's 26.1%, amounting to $ 1.9 billion, which was triggered by a slowdown in export growth from 44.6% to 19.6% and import - from 19.1% to 7.2%, the volumes of which amounted to $ 666.5 million and $ 1.26 billion, respectively.
Moreover, the volume of foreign trade of Armenia with the EAEU countries increased over the 12 months of 2018 by 11.3% per annum - to $ 1.99 billion, and with the EU countries - by 19% to $ 1.8 billion. In particular, the export of Armenian goods to the EAEU increased by 20, 7% to $ 688.98 million with an increase in imports of 6.9% to $ 1.3 billion, while with EU countries, import growth prevails over export rates - 26.8% versus 7.9% - to $ 1.1 billion and $ 683.8 million, respectively. The main buyers of Armenian goods in January-December 2018 were Russia - 27.6% in exports, Switzerland - 13.9%, Bulgaria - 8.9%, Iraq - 6.2% and Germany - 5.6%. The main suppliers of imported products to Armenia were Russia - 25.3% of total imports, China - 13.4%, Germany - 5.9%, Iran - 5.4% and Turkey - 5.1%.