Economic growth in Armenia accelerated to 7.1 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to official statistics cited by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Thursday.
Pashinian also touted fresh data from the national Statistical Committee (Armstat) indicating that this growth continued unabated in April.
“This gives us reason to say that the economy is in a good mood,” he told a weekly meeting of his cabinet in Yerevan. “We have to stimulate that good mood through targeted capital spending and ultimately achieve even better indicators.”
Pashinian said continued economic reforms should help the Armenian economy “convert the good mood into a phase of lasting and sustainable development.”
Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product increased by 5.2 percent in real terms last year, down from 7.5 percent reported by Armstat in 2017. In its 2018 state budget bill approved by the parliament in December, Pashinian’s government forecast a growth rate of 4.9 percent for this year.
“[Full-year growth] will be a bit faster,” Economic Development Minister Tigran Khachatrian told reporters after the cabinet session. “I’ll give a more precise figure when we move closer to the end of the year.”
Armstat figures show that trade, other services and construction were the main driving forces behind first-quarter growth. In particular, the Statistical Committee recorded a 26.5 percent surge in financial services provided in Armenia.
The country’s industrial output was up by only 2 percent in January-March 2019 mainly because of a downturn in the domestic mining industry. That in turn explains why Armenian exports shrunk by more than 8 percent, to $543 million, in the same period.
In its comprehensive policy program approved by the parliament in February, the government pledged to ensure that the domestic economy expands by at least 5 percent annually for the next five years. It said rising exports will be the “main engine” of that growth.
The program reaffirms Pashinian’s repeated pledges to carry out an “economic revolution” that will significantly reduce poverty and unemployment. It says the government will improve tax administration, ease business regulations, guarantee fair competition, and stimulate exports and innovation.
Khachatrian said on May 3 that Armenia’s business environment has already improved significantly since last year’s “velvet revolution” which brought Pashinian to power. The minister said the new government has broken up economic monopolies, created a level playing field for all businesses and eliminated “systemic corruption.”