Congressman Lance Presses for New U.S.-Armenia Trade Accord

New Jersey Legislator Calls on U.S. Trade Representative to Work Toward Expanded Trade with Armenia

WASHINGTON–Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ) has called on the Obama Administration to negotiate a new trade agreement with Armenia in order “to foster economic growth in both countries,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Representative Lance wrote, in a November 16th letter to U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Ronald Kirk, stated that implementing a U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement would “establish a beneficial framework for ongoing dialogue toward expanded bilateral trade and investment.”  In his letter, Congressman Lance also noted Armenia’s Permanent Normal Trade Relations status, its membership in the World Trade Organization, and its role as “an important partner to the U.S. in pursuing peace in the region.”

In recent weeks, Congressmen Robert Andrews (D-NJ) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) have also called upon Ambassador Kirk to negotiate a U.S.-Armenia TIFA.

“We are pleased to see Congressman Lance joining with a growing number of New Jersey legislators in calling for a new bilateral agreement to expand U.S.-Armenia trade and investment,” said ANCA New Jersey co-chairman James Sahagian.  “We are eager to learn of Ambassador Kirk’s responses to these legislative inquiries, and look forward to seeing this vital but long overdue move forward, to the benefit of both America and Armenia.”

In a television interview last week with Yerkir Media in Yerevan, Dr. Varos Simonyan, the head of the Armenian Ministry of Economy’s European Union and International Economic Affairs Department, expressed the Armenian government’s support for a U.S.-Armenia TIFA, and explained the intention of the Armenian government to discuss this issue during the November 15th meeting of the Joint Economic Task Force.  It remains unclear how the U.S. participants in this meeting responded to the Armenian government’s proposal to move forward with talks on establishing a TIFA.

During the last Congressional recess, the ANC of New Jersey met with several members of the Garden State’s Congressional delegation to discuss, among other issues, ways to expand U.S.–Armenia trade. The ANCA has, in a series of letters to Obama Administration officials, State Department meetings, correspondence with Congress, briefing papers, and legislative action alerts, called for the White House to pursue a U.S.-Armenia TIFA.  This accord, once in place, would establish an ongoing bilateral platform for discussion and cooperation about practical steps that can be taken to increase U.S.-Armenia trade and investment.

In a June 11, 2010 letter to the USTR, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian explained that, “the establishment of such an bilateral agreement would build upon our current economic dialogue with Armenia. This type of discourse takes place today, in large measure, within the context of the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force. A TIFA agreement would provide a broader, ongoing, and more consistent platform for our government to meet and consult with Armenian government officials regarding expanding our economic cooperation and exploring opportunities for trade and investment.” The U.S. has TIFAs with Georgia, Ukraine, and several dozen other nations.  The ANCA restated its support for a TIFA as recently as last week, in the days leading up to the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force meeting in Yerevan.

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