US Armenia Task Force Meeting Successful

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The forth semi-annual meeting of the US-Armenia Task Force was concluded in Yerevan on Thursday.

Ambassador Bill Taylor–coordinator of US assistance to Europe and Eurasia–led the US delegation–which also included officials from the Departmen’s of Commerce–Treasury–Justice–and Agriculture–as well as from the office of the US Trade and the US Agency for International Development. Leading the Armenia delegation was Finance and Economy Minister Vardan Khachatrian. The day before–Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vartan Oskanian met with Ambassador Taylor.

Taylor was quoted by foreign ministry as very pleased with the work accomplished by the Task-Force. He also stressed the importance of the issues which are being considered during a two-day meeting in Yerevan.

Among the topics of discussion during the Task Force’s two day meeting were the adoption of a treaty on bilateral taxation-or "double taxation"-of companies and individuals living and working in both countries.

Other topics on the Task Force agenda included promoting economic and financial sector reforms; fighting corruption; Armenia’s accession to the World Trade Organization; expanding tourism in Armenia; increasing Armenian imports to the United States; cooperation in fighting international terrorist financing; maximizing the effectiveness of the US assistance program–and; domestic and regional energy generation and distribution.

The Task Force has drafted a plan of actions–according to which The US Trade Representative (USTR) and the Government of Armenia (GOAM) will seek to complete the exchange of all information on WTO accession by March 1–2002

The GOAM will make every effort to pass an export control law before the US-Armenia Security Consultation in Washington. US Department of Justice will host a representative of the Armenian Ministry of Justice on the Mutual Legal Assistance Study Tour in the US–to be held by the end of March–2002

The Government of Armenia will seek to adopt the Geneva Phonograms Convention by April 2002. The Department of State will check on the possibility of exporting tobacco to the US under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and follow up with Ministry of industry and Trade–should GSP be renewed by Congress. The GOAM said the absence of sub-legislation on combating terrorist financing should not prevent action on freezing terrorist assets. The Armenian side will continue its efforts and co-operation toward combating terrorist financing. The Central Bank will recommend that commercial banks take appropriate anti-terrorism measures.

The US Department of Treasury can provide technical assistance to review legislation and establish a system to monitor bank activity. USAID will continue to provide technical assistance to the Central Bank of Armenia.

The US Government will consider a proposal to be provided by the State Customs Committee on programs of equipment and technical assistance that will be necessary to enforce the Export Control Law. USAID will incorporate GOAM input into strategy design and project monitoring and evaluation. Under the coordination of the Ministry of Finance and Economy–GOAM Ministries and agencies will meet with their counterparts in the US Embassy to follow up on details of assistance requests made at the USATF.

The ministry of finance and economy will provide a framework for the US assistance program. The US Government will keep the Ministry of Finance and Economy informed of all assistance programs. The US side and the Armenian side will be in permanent consultation for better coordinating assistance.

The US Government will consider a proposal to be provided by the GOAM on solar power generation.

In principal–the US Government would like to support E-governance programs by the GOAM.

Both sides will co-operate on small business through their respective agencies.

The US Armenia Task Force was formed in January of 2000 to help coordinate the efforts of the Departmen’s of State–Commerce and Treasury–the Trade Development Agency–the US Agency for International Development–and the National Security Council to promote economic cooperation between the US and Armenia and to assist Armenia in its transition to a market-oriented economy. The Task Force is scheduled to meet twice a year–and alternates venues between Yerevan and Washington–DC.

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