By Shakeh Avoyan
The total amount of foreign direct investments (FDI) in the Armenian economy hit $119 million in the first half of this year, more than doubling from the same period last year, the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development said on Monday.
Officials welcomed the reported sharp increase as a sign of an improving investment climate in Armenia. The director of the government-run Armenian Development Agency (ADA), Vahagn Movsisian, said the list of legal and administrative obstacles to economic activity, cited by businesspeople, has shrunk considerably over the past year. Movsisian told RFE/RL that the agency, which is tasked with attracting foreign investors and promoting Armenian exports, is currently negotiating with more than three dozen foreign entrepreneurs who are considering doing business in Armenia.
The Trade Ministry could not provide a sector-by-sector breakdown of its latest figure, promising to make the information available next month. A ministry official said only that the Greek-owned ArmenTel operator, which has accounted for a large share of the FDI in recent years, has invested far less in the country’s telecommunications sector, making the overall surge in foreign investments even more encouraging.
According to official data, Armenia attracted $130 million worth of business investments from abroad last year, bringing the decade-long FDI total to just under $800 million. The figure is very modest even by Armenian standards. Economists say it is one of the key factors hampering the country’s recovery from the post-Soviet economic collapse.