By Atom Markarian
The Armenian government will hold a special business forum this September in a bid to increase the hitherto modest Diaspora investments in Armenia’s struggling economy, officials announced on Tuesday.
The government hopes that the event will attract hundreds of successful businesspeople from Armenian communities around the world. The organizers of the Yerevan conference said they will be presented with over a hundred investment projects covering various sectors of the Armenian economy.
“Any entrepreneur interested in doing business in Armenia will have concrete investment projects drafted in accordance with international standards,” the deputy minister of trade and industry, Tigran Davtian, told reporters.
Davtian said the forum, scheduled for September 22-24, will be a continuation of two conferences on ways of strengthening Armenia’s ties with its large Diaspora over the past four years. The first such gathering took place in September 1999 on the initiative of then Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian.
Armenia has received hundreds of millions of dollars in Diaspora aid since becoming independent in 1992. But it has so far failed to attract large investments from its wealthy co-ethnics scattered around the world. Rampant corruption and regional instability are seen as the main factors in the lack of business interest from the Diaspora and foreign nations in general.
The overall amount of direct foreign investment did not rise substantially even after a similar forum on business opportunities in Armenia organized by its government and the World Bank in New York in May 2001. The conference, attended by President Robert Kocharian, drew scores of potential Western investors, but has not yet resulted in any major deals.