Assemblyman Jack Scott’s Armenia Trade Office Legislation Clears First Hurdle

* Measure would increase business opportunities for California’s large Armenian population

SACRAMENTO–Legislation authored by Assemblyman Jack Scott passed out of the Assembly International Trade and Development Committee Monday in a vote of 6-0. Scott’s legislation–AB 1805 would require that the California Department of Trade and Commerce establish a new overseas trade office in Yerevan–the capital of the Republic of Armenia.

The Republic of Armenia is one of three internationally recognized states in Tran’scaucasia–the southernmost area of the former USSR. President Bush recognized Armenia on December 25–1991 and the US State Department established an embassy in Yerevan–the capital of Armenia on February 11–1992.

"It is critical that we continue to find ways to grow California’s economy. Expanding trade and business opportunities between Armenian Americans here in California and Armenia makes sense. By creating this office–California can leverage a relatively minor investment into increased jobs and business ventures for California entrepreneurs," said Scott.

Currently–there are approximately seven million Armenia’s throughout the world–including one million in the United States. In addition–there are over 500,000 Armenia’s and Americans with Armenian descent living in California with the largest concentrations living in Glendale at 70,000; Pasadena at 15,000; and Fresno at 25,000.

"Increased trade also provides collateral benefits to both Armenia and the United States. By increasing trade opportunities for Californians in Armenia–we are fostering Armenia’s hard fought transition from a state run economy to a free-market–free enterprise economy," added Scott.

The United States has sent a substantial amount of aid to Armenia–and is currently actively engaged in encouraging and developing manufacturing and trade there. On January 4–1992–Armenia began radical free-market economic reforms. The Clinton Administration fully supports and encourages Armenia on its road to a free economy and the practice of democracy.

On hand to testify on behalf of Assemblyman Scott’s legislation was Berdj Karapetian–Chairman of the Armenian National Committee and Vicken Sonentz-Papazian–Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America.

"Given the lack of California’s Trade Presence in Eastern Europe and West Asia–we think establishing a trade office in Armenia makes a lot of economic and diplomatic sense," said Sonentz-Papazian.

"Because Armenia is a former Soviet Republic that has made significant advancemen’s in computer technology and telecommunications–I believe there is a very real opportunity to link California and Armenia in the areas of technology and telecommunications," said Karapetian.

The first free presidential election was held in Armenia on October 16–1991. Armenia was the first former Soviet Republic to privatize agriculture and continues to privatize small business and state-run enterprises–providing opportunities for local and foreign investors.

Scott’s legislation will now go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for a hearing.

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