YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s trade and economic development minister Karen Chshmaritian Tuesday identified the European Union as Armenia’s biggest trade partner saying almost 40 percent of its foreign trade was conducted with EU member states. The minister said nearly 51 percent of Armenian exports in the first eight months of 2006 went to EU countries and 30.6 percent of imports came from the EU. Chshmaritian said European Union has been one of Armenia’s biggest trade partners since 2001 with an average 37 percent of Armenian exports going to Europe and 32 percent of imports coming from the EU. The minister said the EU was also one of the biggest investors in Armenia. Thus, 42.6 percent of all investmen’s and 50 percent of all direct investmen’s in Armenia from 2001 to 2005 were from the European Union. The minister said a drastic growth of EU investmen’s in Armenia occurred in 2003, identifying Germany as the current top investor, followed by Greece and France. Overall foreign investment in 2005 amounted to $400 million, of which $215 million came from EU member countries. Direct investmen’s were $185 million. Chshmaritian predicted a 20 percent rise for this year. Chshmaritian said also the 7-th meeting of Armenia-EU Partnership Committee in Brussels held on October 25 addressed issues on how to improve further Armenia’s business environment. He said the EU praised also Armenia’s economic reforms. He said the meeting also discussed a concrete set of measures designed within the framework of Armenia’s membership in the European Neighborhood Policy. Chshmaritian said the Armenian side complained that some European countries had tightened the procedure of issuing visas to Armenian businessmen who pay frequent visits to various EU countries. He said the EU officials promised to review this procedure. He said among other discussed issues were Armenian nuclear power plant’s safety and Armenia’s relations with Turkey.