A relevant draft decision publicized by the government on Friday cites Ankara’s “inflammatory calls,” arms supplies to Baku and “deployment of terrorist mercenaries to the conflict zone.” It says the measure is meant to not only hurt Turkey financially but also neutralize “various kinds of dangers” relating to imports of goods from the “hostile country.”
The ban, if formally approved by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s cabinet, will come into effect on December 31 and remain in force for six months. Government officials do not exclude that it will be extended.
According to government data cited by Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian, Armenia imported $268 million worth of Turkish-manufactured products last year. That includes about $70 million worth of clothing and machinery and other equipment worth $35 million.
Grigorian acknowledged on Saturday that the ban could have some “negative” impact on the Armenian economy.
“But in this case the cost of [existing] risks is much higher than the possible negative impact,” Grigorian told reporters. “And I’m sure that the negative impact will be temporary and the market will quickly adapt to the new situation.”
Grigorian said Armenian businesspeople will not have trouble importing the same types of goods from other countries or manufacturing them in Armenia. The government plans to subsidize loans designed for such import substitution, he said.
Traders selling goods at a retail market in Yerevan largely welcomed the government plans.
“We have lots of alternatives,” one of them told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “We also bring stuff from China and Moscow. We must also spur local manufacturing.”
Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia and kept the border between the two states closed since the early 1990s out of solidarity with Azerbaijan. It has also banned all imports from Armenia.