Industry will be the main driving force of Armenia’s ongoing economic recovery this year, having already grown by over 10 percent, Economy Minister Tigran Davtian said on Friday.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), Armenian industrial output rose by 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011. NSS data show this growth accelerating to 11 percent year on year in April and to as much as 25 percent in May.
Industrial production has been greatly helped by the increased international prices of copper and other base metals, Armenia’s number one export.
Davtian insisted that this was not the only reason for the strong performance of the manufacturing sector. He said there has also been robust growth in diamond processing, machine building and light industry.
Speaking at a news conference, the minister forecast that industrial output will be up by more than 10 percent in the first half of this year. The government therefore stands by its earlier projections that the Armenian economy will grow by at least 4.6 percent in 2011, he said.
“I think that [GDP growth] will be a little faster,” added Davtian.
Armenia’s GDP increased by 2.6 percent last year following a more than 14 percent slump registered in 2009 because of the global recession. The NSS has still not released collated GDP data for the first quarter.
Davtian claimed that the Armenian government deserves credit for renewed growth in the domestic economy and industry in particular. He pointed to government efforts to improve the country’s business environment and spur manufacturing activity.
Davtian also stressed the importance of government plans to open three “free economic zones.” The Armenian parliament approved a relevant government bill in May.
Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport will house one of the tax havens. It will mainly cater for domestically grown agricultural produce to be exported abroad.
According to Davtian, another tax-free zone will be located in Yerevan’s Mars electronics factory that was handed over to Russia in 2003 as part of a Russian-Armenian equities-for-debt agreement.