AmCham: Aliyev’s War Cries Damaging Regional Investment Climate

The American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia

YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—A recent slew of statements from the Azerbaijani President threatening war with Armenia have had negative implications for the business and investment climates of not only Armenia and Azerbaijan, where some major oil companies have serious interests, but also for the entire region, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Armenia, Diana Gaziyan, told The Financial.

“When talking about business relations between Armenia and the United States, one should not forget the large Armenian Diaspora in the U.S., which makes the ties between the two countries even stronger. As Armenians are rather entrepreneurial by nature, many Diaspora Armenians are involved in business activities and are keen to invest in their motherland. In fact, many U.S. investments in Armenia are Diaspora-driven. However, the potential of such business links is not fully realized yet, and a comprehensive strategy is needed to bring business relations with the Diaspora to a desired level.

“Armenia is a small, landlocked country, and the economic blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan only adds to the situation by minimizing its economic opportunities to a certain degree. This situation makes it necessary to pay special attention to reforming the business climate in the country with the goal of supporting domestic business and attracting foreign investors. Regarding corruption, unfortunately, this is a problem in many transition economies, and Armenia in this respect is no exception. It is not possible to eliminate corruption overnight, and consistent measures of a systemic nature have to be adopted in order to effectively combat corruption,” Gaziyan said.

She said the level of U.S. investment in the real sector of Armenia in 2012 constituted around $14.6 million, of which about $3.7 million were in the form of direct investments. For 2013, the information available is as of March 2013, with the total investments in the real sector constituting around $3.9 million, of which about $122 thousand were direct investments.

What makes the U.S. interested in Armenia? “The primary interest is its people. Armenia has a talented and diligent workforce, which is a big plus for the U.S. and other foreign investors when it comes to making an investment decision. Armenian people are brainy in technical sciences, and it is no wonder that the information technologies sector is one of the thriving industries in the Armenian economy.”

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