Economic growth in Armenia accelerated in the first quarter of this year despite a continuing fall in consumer spending, according to the latest macroeconomic data released by the country’s government on Tuesday.
The National Statistical Service (NSS) said that the Armenian economy expanded, in real terms, by 4.4 percent on the back of major gains in manufacturing and services. The NSS recorded a growth rate of 3 percent last year.
Both the Armenian government and Western lending institutions forecast earlier that full-year growth will slow to roughly 2 percent in 2016 due to lingering effects of a recession in Russia, a key trading partner and the main source of vital remittances from Armenian migrant workers.
The government figures show 9 percent and 10 percent year-on-year increases in first-quarter industrial output and services other than trade respectively. The Armenian agriculture sector grew by 3.3 percent in the same period, according to them.
Commenting on these figures to in parliament on Tuesday, Deputy Finance Minister Atom Janjughazian said the upswing in manufacturing was mainly generated by Armenia’s export-oriented mining industry. Janjughazian singled out the recent launch of open-pit mining at Teghut, a massive copper and molybdenum deposit in the northern Lori province.
These reported gains contrasted with a 1.1 percent drop in the volume of retail and wholesale trade reported by the NSS. It explains why first-quarter Armenian imports fell by 16 percent.
Consumer spending and imports similarly fell last year. Critics of the Armenian government seized upon that to question the credibility of the official growth figures.