By Atom Markarian
The volume of Armenia’s external is on course to grow by 22.7 percent to just over one trillion drams ($1.84 billion) this year, the chief of the State Customs Committee, Armen Avetisian, revealed on Friday.
The figures show a further rise, in absolute terms, in the country’s huge trade imbalance as it continues to import roughly twice as much as it exports. Still, the gap’s ratio to the Armenian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is likely to be lower than it was last year with exports growing faster than imports.
Avetisian said Armenia will have exported 359 billion drams ($638.8 million) worth of goods by January 1, 26 percent up from 2002. He said its net imports will rise 21 percent to 674 billion drams.
The resulting trade and current account deficits have long been largely covered by regular cash remittances from hundreds of thousands of Armenians working abroad. They are forecast by the Armenian Central Bank to send home between $450 million and $500 million in cash in 2003.
Export promotion is a top priority in the Armenian government’s economic policy. Government officials admit that the Armenian market is too small to sustain the relatively high rates of GDP growth which they have reported in recent years.