Armenia’s economy can grow this year significantly faster than originally forecast by the government and international lending institutions, Economy Minister Tigran Davtian insisted on Monday.
Davtian said an economic growth target of 7 percent set by President Serzh Sarkisian is “absolutely realistic,” citing strong gains in industrial and agricultural output shown by official statistics in the first half of this year.
The government forecast late last year that economic growth in the country will slightly slow to 4.2 percent in 2012. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank came up with virtually identical forecasts before slightly revising them downwards this spring.
Sarkisian announced last month that a GDP growth rate of 7 percent is his “primary expectation” from his newly reshuffled government.
“I think that the fairly high 7 percent target is absolutely realistic,” Davtian told a news conference. “Of course, one can now find few economies in the world that have such programs for this year, and we will do everything to achieve such a pace of growth. Our indicators for the first six months make us optimistic.”
According to first-half government data cited by Davtian, industrial production in the country rose by 13.5 percent. The Armenian agricultural sector similarly expanded by 8 percent in this period.
The government’s most recent growth data is for the first quarter of the year. It shows a 4.7 percent GDP increase.
“We can now conclude that there are quite positive economic developments,” said Davtian. “Structural changes are underway within the economy. I would call those changes positive.”
The minister cautioned at the same time that faster growth targeted by the Armenian authorities could be hampered by a weak global economic environment resulting, in large measure, from Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.
Asad Alam, a senior World Bank official, said last month that external factors will influence the country’s macroeconomic performance. “I think the 7 percent growth rate is achievable but it is very based upon what the government is able to do in the remaining parts of the year and also the global economic environment,” Alam said in Yerevan.