Prime Minister Karen Karapetian urged Swiss businesspeople to invest in Armenia when he visited Switzerland on Monday following a drastic increase in trade between the two countries recorded last year.
Karapetian addressed them in Zurich at the start of his first trip to a European country in his capacity as prime minister. He will also attend the annual World Economic Forum that will get underway in the Swiss resort town of Davos on Tuesday.
An Armenian government statement said he will hold “a number of bilateral and multilateral meetings” on the sidelines of the forum. It gave no details.
“My message to you today is clear and straightforward,” Karapetian declared at a dinner meeting in Zurich organized by the Swiss-Armenian Chamber of Commerce. “Come and do business in Armenia, come and invest in Armenia. It is a worthy place for investing and doing business.”
“We have undertaken significant reforms in every aspect of our country,” he said in what was apparently his first-ever speech delivered in English.
Karapetian touted his government’s efforts to improve Armenia’s investment climate and attract more foreign investment. He said that they are already producing concrete results, pointing to official statistics which shows that the Armenian economy grew by about 7 percent last year.
The premier also cited Armenian government data indicating that Swiss-Armenian trade tripled in 2017. According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), it totaled almost $316 million in January-November 2017, making Switzerland Armenia’s third largest trading partner after Russia and China.
Significantly, Armenian exports to Switzerland accounted for three-quarters of that figure. They include watches and watch parts manufactured by plants belonging to Swish entrepreneurs of Armenian descent. It is not yet clear what exactly caused those exports to more than triple in the eleven-month period.
Karapetian encouraged Swiss companies to invest in a wide range of Armenian sectors, including energy, mining, jewelry and agribusiness. He said that they would gain tariff-free access to Russia’s market thanks to Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). He also called for Swiss investments in a free economic zone which was set up on Armenia’s border with Iran last month.