Armenia’s exports continued to grow rapidly in the first half of this year, helped by higher international prices of copper.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), they were up by 21 percent year on year, at $994 million.
Copper, molybdenum and other base metals and their ore concentrates remained the country’s number one export category with a 43 percent share in the total. First-half export revenue from them soared by 30 percent on the back of last autumn’s sharp rise in the copper prices.
This appears to explain why Armenian exports to the European Union, the main buyer of Armenian mining output, rose just as rapidly and totaled almost $302 million in January-June 2017.
By comparison, Armenia exported nearly $220 million worth of goods -- mostly prepared foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages and fresh fruits and vegetables -- to Russia, the NSS data shows. Those exports were up by 27 percent in the same period.
The government agency also recorded a nearly 26 percent rise in Armenia’s first-half imports that exceeded $1.8 billion. With domestic consumer demand remaining sluggish this year, this growth may stem, in part, from a government crackdown on widespread corruption within the national customs service.
Earlier this year Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s government effectively pledged to ensure a steady increase in exports that would eliminate Armenia’s huge trade deficit within the next five years. Senior officials from the Ministry for Economic Development forecast that exports will approach the $2 billion mark this year and rise by another $450 million in 2018.They said Russia and other members of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will absorb most of the extra exports anticipated by them.
In its policy program approved by the Armenian parliament in June, the government committed itself to achieving an annual economic growth rate of around 5 percent in 2017-2022. The program describes rising exports as “the key engine” of that growth, saying that the government will strive to facilitate Armenian manufacturers’ access to Russia, the EU and other foreign markets.