YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–On April 22–President of Armenia Robert Kocharian–who is on an official visit to the United Arab Emirates–held a meeting with representatives of business circles of Armenia and the UAE. Below is the text of his speech at the meeting.
"Dear Mr. Chairman–Dear participants of this forum,
I welcome you and thank you for your interest toward Armenia. It is a pleasure to see readiness on both sides to expand the business ties between the Republic of Armenia and the United Arab Emirates. This is the first time an Armenian President is paying an official visit to the United Arab Emirates; this visit can be regarded as a continuation of our policy of expanding the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Our purpose today is to introduce Armenia to you and to try and stir investment interest in you. You have the capital and the desire to use it productively. We would like to present Armenia to you as a profitable place to invest–as a reliable and a predictable partner. The Minister of Trade and Economic Development will give you the details about Armenia’s economy. I will try to emphasize a few main points. Thanks to our economic reforms–particularly in the last few years Armenia has managed to achieve macroeconomic stability and stable economic growth. In 2001–the GDP grew by 9.6 percent–the volume of industrial production increased by 8.7 percent–export volume grew by 15 percent–while inflation was 3.1 percent. The 2002 economic indicators are expected to be similar. The structural analysis of the United Arab Emirates’ and Armenia’s economy shows that we practically do not compete. Relative geographic proximity entails profitability of cooperation. The free trading regime in our countries removes many obstacles. The Armenian economy actively absorbs investmen’s–thus expanding its capacities. The country’s economy is about to experience a serious economic upturn–based on political stability and sufficient amount of economic reforms. We regard ourselves as the most organized country in the South Caucasus and the future regional center for intellectual services. Today–the Armenian Government has the following objectives in the area of the economy: Continuing reforms–making the legislation comply with European standards–attracting of foreign investmen’s–improving investment climate–capital investmen’s in infrastructures (roads–aviation–irrigation–communications–energy)–aviation–energy and communications through private companies–special treatment for priority areas such as diamond processing–jewelry–high technologies–processing; improving administration–the fight against corruption–and the continuation of privatization. Today–the private sector accounts for more than 75 percent of Armenia’s economy.
Armenia’s advantages include people who are literate and educated–enterprising–open and receptive to new ideas. This is a capital that has been developed for centuries.
One of the main problems of Armenia is that the South Caucasus region continues to be perceived as a conflict area. There is also the existence of an unsettled conflict with Azerbaijan. Problems with transportation routes result of the conflicts.
The solution to these problems partly depends on the general processes in the region and the degree of involvement of great powers in these processes.
In terms of promoting trade–economic and investment cooperation between our countries–I attach great importance to the signing–during this visit–of agreemen’s on encouraging and mutual protection of investment–on avoiding double taxation and on trade and economic cooperation. I would like to mention that businesses already have a certain experience of cooperation. There are some joint ventures in Armenia–as well as Armenian investmen’s in the United Arab Emirates. Regular contacts between our business communities would be welcome. Taking this opportunity–I would like to invite you to Armenia–which would give the UAE’s businessmen a chance to get acquainted with their Armenian colleagues and to learn about investment opportunities in our country. Such contacts would promote the development of trade and economic cooperation between our countries. Dear businessmen–In conclusion–I would like to wish you productive contacts and success to all your endeavors."