ANCA WR Hails Signing of California Armenia Trade Bill

Governor Gray Davis signs Senator Scott’s bill establishing official California trade and investment presence in Republic of Armenia

PASADENA–CA–Less than a few weeks after the California State legislature voted in both chambers to establish a California international trade and investment office in the Republic of Armenia–Governor Gray Davis signed the bill into law late yesterday afternoon in the State Capitol. The signing of Senate Bill 1657–introduced by Senator Jack Scott (D-Pasadena) earlier this year was the culmination of a three year grassroots effort by the ANCA-WR and over ten local ANC chapters to establish trade relations between the Republic of Armenia and California.

"The establishment of the trade office initiates a new era in the way California does business with overseas markets. It is the first time California has ventured into the former Soviet Union with an official trade presence–and there is no better place do this than in the Republic of Armenia–a fast growing economy with strong ties to California and on the traditional crossroads of the trade routes where East meets West," said Chairman of ANCA-WR Steven J. Dadaian at a joint teleconference with the Governor in Senator Scott’s district office in Pasadena.

California will now become the first state in the United States to have a trade presence in Armenia. Gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991–Armenia was the first former Soviet Republic to privatize agriculture. It continues to privatize small businesses and state-run enterprises. Since its independence–the Republic has shown steady and positive economic growth while maintaining a stable currency. It has been hailed as a model democratic republic in the region. Thus–it represents the ideal location for a California trade office.

"California will gain inroads into a large area with excellent economic potential," commented Senator Scott after the Governor signed his bill into law. "This California- Armenia partnership–combined with California’s large Armenian community–will create many positive opportunities–in business–trade–investment–education and tourism," added the Senator.

"The ANCA-WR commen’s Governor Gray Davis for signing Senator Scott’s bill–SB 1657 into law. The passage of this bill marks a significant step forward in the economic partnership between California and the Republic of Armenia. The office’s success will be a model for other trade offices to follow," stated ANCA-WR board member Berdj Karapetian.

Karapetian accompanied Senator Scott on an exploratory mission to Armenia earlier this year to study the feasibility of establishing a trade office in the Republic. During the trip–Senator Scott and ANCA-WR representatives met with business and industry leaders in Armenia to discuss potential areas of cooperation. This potential was identified in the areas of information technologies–bio-technology–agriculture and tourism.

Armenia has made significant advancemen’s in computer technology and telecommunications–which can open new markets for California’s high-tech and biotech industries.

The idea of a California Trade Office in Armenia has been considered by the State Legislature for more than 3 years and contributed to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between California Governor Gray Davis and Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian in November of last year. The ANCA-WR pushed for the establishment of a trade office as the next natural step to improve trade and investment between Armenia and California.

Unlike other trade offices–the California-Armenia trade office not only requires a comprehensive evaluation of its success but will also require new authorization by the State for its operation beyond January 1–2006. The study of the office’s economic impact on trade–investment and tourism in California and the Trans-Caucasus region would be a model for other current and future trade offices.

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.

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