Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian hailed Armenia’s growing trade with Italy and called for greater Italian investments in his country during an official visit to Italy that ended on Friday.
Pashinian said economic issues were a key theme of his talks with Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte held in Rome.
“I must note that a significant dynamic has been registered in this area this year,” he told a joint news briefing with Conte. “As it stands, Italy is our second largest trading partner [after Germany] in the European Union.”
“I am happy to state that all necessary prerequisites are in place to fill Armenian-Italian trade with new content,” he added.
According to Armenian government data, Armenian-Italian trade rose by 13 percent, to almost $196 million, in the first nine months of this year. Armenian exports to Italy were up by around 26 percent, at $46.5 million. Armenia’s overall trade with the European Union exceeded $1.2 billion in this period.
Pashinian presented new opportunities for doing business in Armenia to Italian investors during a bilateral business forum held in Milan on Thursday. He mentioned his government’s efforts to combat corruption and improve the country’s broader investment climate. He also argued that foreign companies setting up shop in Armenia would gain tariff-free access to the Russian market.
“Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union and close cooperation with the EU create a fertile ground for attracting investments,” Pashinian said after the talks with Conte.
Several major Italian companies already operate in Armenia. One of them started building a $250 million power plant in Yerevan in July, while another inaugurated two weeks ago a ceramic cookware factory built jointly with a leading Armenian businessman, Gagik Tsarukian. Pashinian also attended the opening ceremony.
Earlier in November, one of the world’s largest transnational Internet traffic firms, Telecom Italia Sparkle, set up a joint venture with Ucom, which owns one of the three Armenian mobile phone networks and is also the country’s leading Internet service provider.
Conte mentioned Sparkle’s deal with Ucom when he addressed the press after the meeting with Pashinian.
The Italian premier also voiced support for the Armenian government’s reform agenda and, in particular, its anti-corruption efforts. He said his government stands ready to share Italy’s extensive anti-corruption experience with Yerevan.