Armenia’s huge trade deficit eased in the first half of this year owing to a significant rise in exports of agricultural products and prepared foodstuffs mostly going to Russia, according to government data.
A 2 percent drop in Armenian imports totaling $1.97 billion was another factor behind the country’s improved trade balance. The imports continued to dwarf exports even though the latter went up by 10 percent to almost $700 million in this period.
The data released by the National Statistical Service (NSS) shows modest gains in revenue from Armenia’s main export items: copper and other non-ferrous metals as well as ore concentrates. Their exports rose by roughly 4 percent to $370 million.
By comparison, exports of prepared foodstuffs were up by as much as 22.6 percent, at $132.4 million, while those of fruits, vegetables and livestock doubled to around $44 million. Russia has long been the principal market for these products.
Accordingly, the NSS reported a 19 percent surge in first-half Armenian exports to Russia which stood at $143.5 million. By contrast, imports from Russia fell by 7.6 percent year on year to $453.4 million. Decreased consumption of natural gas in Armenia appears to have been instrumental in this drop.
Russia remained Armenia’s single largest trading partner with a more than 22 percent share in the South Caucasus state’s external turnover, followed by China (7.4 percent) and Germany (6 percent). Overall trade with Germany and other EU member states accounted for just over 29 percent of Armenia’s external commerce in January-June. But it shrunk slightly in absolute terms, according to the NSS.
Commercial ties between Armenia and the EU should receive a major boost with the planned creation by the two sides of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). Citing an independent study commissioned by the EU, the European Commission said late last month that the DCFTA’s impact will be “significant.” “The forecast 15.2% increase in Armenian exports and 8.2% increase in its imports in the long run will lead improve Armenia’s trade balance in relative terms,” the commission said in a statement.