By Emil Danielyan
The intergovernmental US-Armenia Task Force began a two-day meeting in Yerevan on Wednesday, concentrating on bilateral taxation and trade, US economic assistance to Armenia and joint efforts against international terrorist financing.
Senior government officials from the two countries making up the body are expected to sign a treaty on the avoidance of double taxation of American businesses operating in Armenia and vice versa. The two sides will also discuss ways of boosting the effectiveness of the annual US aid, which has averaged more than $100 million since 1992.
Armenian officials led by Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian were expected to seek easier access to the US markets and Washington’s support for Armenia’s membership in the World Trade Organization.
The US delegation is led by Ambassador Bill Taylor, who coordinates US assistance to Europe and the former Soviet Union. It includes officials from the Departments
of Commerce, Treasury, Justice, and Agriculture, as well as from the office
of the US Trade Representative and the US Agency for International Development.
The task force was created in January 2000 with the aim of ensuring better use of American aid and facilitating bilateral commercial links. The group’s previous semi-annual meeting, scheduled for last September, was cancelled because of the terror attacks in New York and Washington.
Addressing the participants of the Yerevan meeting, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian said the two nations should “reconsider the ways of our cooperation” in view of the geopolitical changes caused by the deadly attacks. Markarian said bilateral cooperation should fit into the broader pattern of the US-led fight against international terrorism.
He said Armenia is trying to assist in the anti-terror drive and has, among other things, enacted more legal safeguards against money laundering.