The European Union will provide Armenia with 176 million euros ($208 million) in fresh assistance over the next three years as a result of a landmark agreement signed late last month, Deputy Prime Minister Vache Gabrielian said on Wednesday.
Gabrielian said the aid will support the Armenian government’s wide-ranging reforms that will facilitate faster economic growth. The government also expects a major boost to Armenian exports to the EU, he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partership Agreement (CEPA) commits the government to implementing political reforms and “approximating” national economic laws and regulations to those of the EU. This “regulatory harmonization” will cover business regulation, agriculture, transport, environment, consumer protection and even energy.
“We will implement reforms in certain policy areas through [EU] assistance, increased technical capacity and better legislation,” said Gabrielian. This will in turn help to increase and diversify Armenian exports, he added.
The CEPA does not provide for a free-trade regime between the EU and Armenia in view of the latter’s membership in a Russian-led trade bloc. Instead, it says, the two sides will seek to ease non-tariff barriers to mutual commerce such as technical regulations and licensing and labelling requirements.
The EU is already Armenia’s main export market, having imported $496 million worth of Armenian goods and commodities in the first ten months of this year. Copper, other non-ferrous metals and ore concentrates account for the bulk of Armenian exports to EU countries.
Gabrielian suggested that the planned introduction of EU standards should lead to more exports of Armenian manufacturing output. Some Armenian companies are already “restructuring themselves” for that purpose, he said.