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Armenia expects to nearly triple its exports by 2020 increasing them to a total of $5.5 billion, a senior pro-government lawmaker announced on Friday at a meeting of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) also attended by the economy minister.

Gagik Minasian, an HKK lawmaker who chairs the National Assembly’s standing committee on finances and budget affairs, told his fellow party members that such an increase will be helped by the realization of a new export promotion strategy devised at the government’s request.

The strategy on an export-geared industrial policy is due to be approved by the government soon to offer a vision for the country’s industrial sector in terms of promoting its export potentialities.

“Whereas today our annual exports reach $1.7 billion, then by 2015 we are going to raise it to $3-3.5 billion, with a further increase to $5-5.5 billion by 2020,” said Minasian.

The HHK lawmaker said the strategy also aims to change the export structure. “Today non-raw materials account for only 46 percent of our entire export. The plan envisages an essential development of sectors other than those involved in raw material production. In 2015 we expect to bring non-material export to the level of 50-55 percent, further raising it to 60-65 percent by 2020,” he said. “For quite a long time the share of raw material exports have not been getting smaller, but in the modern-day world it is skills and knowledge that should ensure the competitive capacity of our economy.”

Last month a leading international credit rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service, downgraded Armenia’s credit rating and lowered its broader outlook for the Armenian economy, citing the anticipated economic downturn in Europe and Russia.

The risk assessment firm attributed the move to Armenia’s vulnerability to renewed recession in foreign markets. In particular, it warned of a possible fall in international prices of base metals, the country’s number one export item. Armenia already suffered from the kind of effect when international prices of base metals plummeted amid a global economic recession three years ago.

Meanwhile, the widening gap in Armenia's import-export ratio also remains a major concern for the local economy. Last year the South Caucasus nation imported goods worth nearly three times as much as its total exports.

Armenian Economy Minister Tigran Davtian, who also attended the meeting at the HHK central office, elaborated that the strategy suggests focusing on the development of a dozen industries that will raise the country’s overall export capacity in the years to come. The minister said so far development programs have been devised and will soon be launched for three of such sectors, including precision machine-building, the pharmaceutical and food industries.
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