Armenia is not in danger of falling into a recession despite the mounting fallout from the worsening economic situation in Russia, Economy Minister Karen Chshmaritian insisted on Monday.
“Are there signs of a looming economic crisis in Armenia? Definitely not. Crisis is a broad concept and [the situation in Russia] is not the only factor behind it,” Chshmaritian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Chshmaritian admitted at the same time that the Armenian government is making contingency plans for possible greater spillover effects of Russia’s economic troubles resulting in large measure from Western economic sanctions. He said it is planning to look into various sectors of the Armenian economy to determine ways of alleviating the impact of the Russian fallout on them.
“These sector-by-sector discussions will allow us to get a better idea of the situation and, if we see that there may be a deeper deterioration of the situation we, react properly,” he said.
As recently as this summer, the government expected the Armenian economy to expand by at least 4 percent this year. This target looks increasingly unrealistic amid falling remittances sent home by hundreds of thousands of Armenian workers in Russia. The International Monetary Fund has forecast recently that economic growth in Armenia will likely come in at only 2.6 percent.
Both Chshmaritian and Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian said last month that Armenia will be hit harder unless the United States and the European Union lift the sanctions soon.
Russia is Armenia’s number one trading partner and the main source of vital remittances supporting a large part of the country’s population.
Economic growth in Russia is expected to all but grind to a halt in 2014. The Russian Central Bank said last week that the Russian economy is unlikely to grow in 2015 and may even contract if oil prices continue to fall.