“Zhamanak” says Armenian companies will need to markedly improve the quality of their products in order to be able to capitalize on Armenia’s upcoming free trade agreement with the European Union. “The question is who in Armenia can do that if small and medium-sized businesses are barely able to remain afloat and are investing their resources in their survival,” writes the paper. “Those businesses either lack development funds or have them in form of expensive bank loans.” Larger businesses have no such problems. “And that means only the oligarchs will take advantage of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA),” claims the paper.
Citing data from the National Statistical Service (NSS), “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that more than a thousand small shops and kiosks and around 400 small firms providing other services in Yerevan have closed down over the past year. “There were some 6,700 such shops operating in Yerevan as of July 1,” says the paper. It describes the decreased number of such businesses as further proof of rapid business consolidation in Armenia benefiting a handful of very rich people.
“Zhoghovurd” says Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian made no mention of this and other alarming data from the NSS during Thursday’s meeting of his cabinet. The paper says Sarkisian must explain why Armenians are leaving their country in large numbers despite robust economic growth reported by his government.
“Hraparak” accuses the Ministry of Agriculture of reporting false increases in food exports and the size of Armenia’s livestock and the area of agricultural land cultivated by farmers. The paper believes the country’s shrinking village population makes such gains impossible.