YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia’s government is working at an “accelerated pace” on the establishment of an Armenian-Iranian free economic zone in the country’s southernmost Meghri region, Economy Minister Artsvik Minasyan said on Thursday.
He did not mention when the zone will start functioning.
“The creation of a free economic zone with Iran will make available a good platform for the production of goods and rendering of services especially at the border sector,” said Minasian, adding that it will stimulate relations both between Iran and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of which Armenia is a member as well as will provide goods produced in the free economic zone with an opportunity to enjoy preferences of Armenia’s trade regimes with Europe, the United States, Canada, Switzerland and Japan as with countries of the GSP system.
The minister said this will make it possible to expand both production and export of goods.
Plans for the free economic zone with Iran were first announced by Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Monday.
Addressing participants of a pan-Armenian youth camp, Baze-2016, he said that the free economic zone will open a new opportunity for developing Armenia’s economy.
“During the latest meeting in Sochi of the prime ministers of the EEU member states, we agreed to create a free economic zone at the Armenian-Iranian border, in the Meghri area. This is a very important project, which opens up a new opportunity for the development of our economy,” the head of the Armenian government said.
He specifically stressed that the project will also allow Iran to establish joint ventures with EEU member states in the free economic zone and start exporting goods to the common EEU market.
Minasyan said that “This agreement was reached at the Eurasian Economic Commission at the suggestion of the Armenian prime minister. Now our main task is to have legislative underpinnings [for the project]. To that effect, a draft piece of legislation on the creation of the free economic zone is in circulation now. It is now at the stage of coordination and its directions and objectives will be more clearly defined in the near future.”