Prime Minister Karapetian expressed his government’s readiness to deepen Armenia’s commercial ties with Russia and the United States during separate meetings with the Russian and U.S. ambassadors in Yerevan on Tuesday.
Karapetian was reported to note the “solid foundation” of the Russian-Armenian “allied partnership” when he met with Ivan Volynkin, the Russian ambassador. According to a government statement, he called for “further development and expansion of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.”
“The prime minister assured of his government’s readiness to take all necessary steps in this direction, adding that there is great potential to implement new investment projects and increase trade turnover,” said the statement.
Karapetian, who was appointed prime minister less than a month ago, conveyed a similar message to the U.S. envoy, Richard Mills.
A separate statement by his press office said he told Mills that Armenia wants to “build up strong ties of partnership with the United States, including in the fields of trade and investment.” Yerevan is ready to “take steps towards tapping the existing potential and expanding cooperation,” he was quoted as saying.
Karapetian has lived and worked in Russia for the past five years, holding senior executive positions in local companies belonging to the Gazprom gas giant. He had managed Armenia’s Gazprom-controlled gas distribution network from 2001-2010.
Russia is Armenia’s leading trading partner, with bilateral trade totaling $600 million in the first half of this year, according to Armenian government data. It is also the main source of large-scale cash remittances from Armenian migrant workers.
Official figures also show that U.S.-Armenian trade stood at $57 million in January-June 2016. The U.S. and Armenian governments hope that it will rise as a result of the U.S.-Armenian Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed last year.
In line with that agreement, the two sides set up a joint Council on Trade and Investment tasked with addressing obstacles to bilateral trade and facilitating U.S. investments in Armenia. The council held its inaugural session in Yerevan in November 2015.