Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev hailed a sharp rise in Armenia’s exports to Russia recorded last year and spoke of a great potential for their further growth as he met with his visiting Armenian counterpart Karen Karapetian on Tuesday.
Public statements made by the two men suggested that their talks held near Moscow focused on commercial issues, with Karapetian calling for more Russian investments in the Armenian economy.
“We have come here with new proposals which would allow us to diversify and expand the spheres of our [economic] cooperation,” Karapetian said in his opening remarks at the meeting.
Greeting the recently appointed Armenian premier, Medvedev said: “Despite international market trends, changes in the prices of energy resources and a number of other economic factors, our commercial exchange is stable. And if we look at imports from Armenia to our country … we observed a 70 percent increase last year.”
“In my view, this is a consequence of Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian [Economic] Union and the strengthening of our economic ties,” he added.
Armenian government data shows that Armenia exported $337.3 million worth of goods to Russia in January-November 2016, a year-on-year increase of 54 percent. Fresh agricultural products, alcoholic beverages and processed foodstuffs accounted for most of those exports.
Addressing the press after the talks with Karapetian, Medvedev said that the Armenian agriculture sector has a “very good potential for development” not only in terms of continued exports to Russia but also through the launch of Russian-Armenian joint ventures.
“We have a big market,” Medvedev said. “I think that we should concentrate on this as well in the near future.”
Armenian exports to Russia plummeted by nearly 27 percent in 2015 primarily because of the Russian ruble’s sharp depreciation caused by the collapse of world oil prices. The ruble regained some of its lost value in the course of last year.
According to an Armenian government statement, one of the economic proposals submitted by Karapetian to Medvedev is the creation of a Russian-Armenian “investment fund” that would finance business projects in Armenia. “The Russian side positively assessed the proposal,” the statement without elaborating.
Karapetian, 53, lived and worked in Russia for five years preceding his appointment as Armenia’s prime minister in September. He held senior executive positions in local subsidiaries of Russia’s Gazprom energy giant. Karapetian managed Armenia’s Gazprom-owned gas distribution network from 2001-2010.
The premier’s Gazprom connections appear to have been instrumental in the network’s decision late last year to cut gas prices for Armenian households and businesses.