Trade Office Bill Passes Key Committee

SACRAMENTO-Senator Jack Scott announced that his legislation establishing a regional trade office in Armenia was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday by an 11-0 vote. The measure will be considered by the full State Senate next week.

Senate Bill 1657 would have the trade office serve Armenia and surrounding Eastern European and Southwestern Asian independent neighbors. The aim of the proposal is for California to promote trade relations in developing areas of the world that show emerging market potential. A study of the trade office’s economic impact on trade–investment and tourism would be completed by March–2005.

The State of California currently has trade offices in Germany–the United Kingdom–Hong Kong–Indonesia–Israel–Mexico–the Republic of South Africa–Taiwan and Japan. Senator Scott’s measure calls for the addition of a tenth trade office to be located in Yerevan–the capital of the Republic of Armenia.

"This trade office has the potential to promote California’s economic interests in Armenia and its surrounding nations," said Senator Scott. "It will accelerate business–trade and tourism opportunities between California and this area.

"California has growing ties with the region–and especially with the people of Armenia. Establishing a regional trade office will be California’s gateway to a region that has excellent economic potential.

"Moreover," stated Scott–"such newly independent nations in the region could benefit not only from California’s export economy–but we can also assist these former Soviet republics in becoming more free-market oriented as they engage in trading products and resources with us."

"We are encouraged that the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed SB 1657," said Souzi Zerounian–Board member of the ANCA-WR. "We believe this represents an important milestone in building strong economic ties between California and Armenia and the ANC will continue to work closely with Senator Scott to ensure enactment of this bill into law by Governor Davis."

Armenia–which in 1991 gained its independence from the Soviet Union–was the first former Soviet Republic to privatize agriculture and continues to private small businesses and state-run enterprise. Armenia has made significant advancemen’s in computer technology and telecommunication–which can open new markets for California’s high-tech and biotech industries.

There are some seven million Armenia’s throughout the world–including one million in the United States. There are over 500,000 Armenia’s and Armenia’s of American descent living in California–with the largest concentrations living in Glendale at 70,000; Pasadena at 15,000; and Fresno at 25,000.

SB 1657 would allow private as well as public investment in the trade office.

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