Prime Minister Karen Karapetian and a visiting Russian government member praised on Tuesday a further sizable increase in Russian-Armenian trade which reached a new high last year, according to official statistics.
Armenian government data show bilateral trade rising by just over 26 percent to $1.7 billion in 2017 on the back of an almost 45 percent surge in Armenian exports to Russia. The latter thus remained the South Caucasus state’s leading trading partner.
Karapetian cited these figures at the start of a regular session in Yerevan of a Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation. He chaired it together with Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.
Sokolov also noted the record-high amount of Russian-Armenian trade recorded in 2017. “We are happy that the volume of shipments of Armenian products to the Russian is rapidly growing,” he said in his opening remarks publicized by Karapetian’s press office.
Russian-Armenian trade plummeted in 2015 following a sharp depreciation of the Russian ruble which hit Armenian exporters hard. But with the Russian currency subsequently rallying against the U.S. dollar and the euro, Armenian exports to Russia soared by 51.5 percent in 2016.
Sokolov said that Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is a key reason for the sharp gains recorded in 2016 and 2017. Tariff-free access to the markets in Russia and other ex-Soviet states making up the trade bloc is also making Armenia more attractive to foreign investors, he said.
Karapetian stressed in that regard that Armenia also enjoys preferential trade regimes with the European Union and the United States and that Russian investors should capitalize on that. He also called for Russian investments in a free economic zone which was set up on the Armenian-Iranian border in December.
“We are ready to create comfortable conditions for Russian capital in Armenia,” added the prime minister.
Karapetian visited Moscow as recently as on February 16-17. The Armenian government said ahead of his visit said he will meet with “Armenian and Russian business circles” to discuss with them “ongoing and prospective projects.” The government has issued no further statements on the trip.
The Armenian premier has been strongly backed by Russia’s wealthiest ethnic Armenian businessman, Samvel Karapetian (no relation), ever since he took office in September 2016. The billionaire tycoon has pledged to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Armenia’s energy sector.
Incidentally, energy was on the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting of the Russian-Armenian commission.A government statement said the panel discussed ways of “expanding cooperation” in this and other economic sectors.