Wall Street Journal Assesses Schiff Proposal

As we have reported earlier–State Sen. Adam Schiff proposed legislation calling for an inquiry regarding the feasibility of establishing a California trade office in Armenia. The Wall Street Journal Tuesday addressed the issue in article reprinted below.

By Shirley Leung From The Wall Street Journal / California

The Asian economic crisis may be slowing California’s $105 billion trade volume–but can tiny Armenia help put the state back on track?

State Sen. Adam Schiff thinks so. Last week–the Burbank Democrat asked for a feasibility study on opening a trade office in Yerevan–the Armenian capital. The office would join the state’s nine existing trade bureaus–including ones in England–Hong Kong and Mexico.

Ranking 119th on the list of the state’s trading partners–Armenia and its 3.4 million residents might not seem the most promising of economic opportunities. Last year–California exported $4.3 million to the former Soviet republic–less–says the California Trade and Commerce Agency–than the state exported to Iraq ($5.2 million) or Western Samoa ($5 million). Agency spokesman Mike Marando says California businesses haven’t exactly been clamoring for the Yerevan outpost–but "because we’re being instructed by a member {of the Legislature}–we’re certainly looking into it."

Schiff says the trade office would be of special benefit to his district–which is home to many of the 300,000 Armenia’s in California. And as for today’s export numbers–Mr. Schiff says: "If you look at the amount of trade that currently exists–you ignore the most important factor: What is the potential?"

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