On February 18, 2021, on the initiative of the RA Ministry of Economy and the US Chamber of Commerce in Armenia, a meeting with representatives of the Armenian public sector and the business community was organized within the framework of activities of the Armenia-US Council on Trade and Investment to identify and discuss the barriers for US export and import.
The event was attended by the RA Deputy Minister of Economy Varos Simonyan, the Executive Director of the US Chamber of Commerce in Armenia Karine Sargsyan, officials of the RA Ministry of Economy, the State Revenue Committee, and the Food Safety Inspectorate and businessmen.
Welcoming the participants of the event, Varos Simonyan informed the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) is in force between Armenia and USA, within the framework of which a joint Council was established to promote trade and economic cooperation. He added that this discussion was organized to intensify the existing cooperation and business ties between the two countries ahead of the upcoming Armenian-American business event.
“The main purpose of our meeting today is to understand what are the barriers that businesses face when entering the US market and how the state can support businesses to enter the markets of other countries, better represent our businessmen to the US businessmen, and outline a targeted agenda for the upcoming business roundtable to represent our partners, as well as discuss problems and provide solutions at the state level”, said the Deputy Minister.
Varos Simonyan thanked the representatives of the business community for their participation, noting that he expects a sincere discussion.
The Executive Director of the US Chamber of Commerce in Armenia Karine Sargsyan also thanked the public-private sector for excellent cooperation, noting that opportunities for holding events were limited due to the pandemic, while online events were not very effective. She also informed that in near future a franchising conference is planned to take place with an attempt to intensify cooperation within the framework of TIFA and organize events for enhancement of the Armenian-American business relations.
The businessmen mainly singled out problems of technical, documentary, and logistical nature, particularly related to exportation of meat, realization of cargo transportation, increase in cargo transportation prices, with regard to parcels and postal deliveries, lack of REF containers in case of exportation of wine, problems related to unavailability of laboratory testing and high costs associated with the processes of marking of place names, obtaining certificates and quality certificate, problems related to purchasing from electronic platforms and protection of intellectual property, lack of information on the US import procedures, and a number of other issues.
During the substantive and effective discussion, the business community representatives presented in detail the problems and obstacles they encountered in their activities, tried to jointly find ways to eliminate them, and offered possible solutions.
As a result, an agreement was reached to make such meetings regular, set up working groups if necessary, organize separate sectoral meetings with participation of Ministries and representatives of the US Chamber of Commerce.
On May 7, 2015, the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was signed between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Government of the United States of America to strengthen and further enhance the Armenian-American economic cooperation, expand and diversify the trade of goods and services between the two countries, and intensify business initiatives. According to the Agreement, the Armenia-US Trade and Investment Council was established, which is chaired by the Armenian Ministry of Economy on the Armenian side, and the US Trade Representative Office on the American side. The objectives of the joint Council are to expand the trade and investment opportunities between the two Parties, identify potential barriers in areas such as intellectual property, business environment, labor rights, issues not covered by investment agreements between the countries, and so on.
The first session of the Council took place on November 17, 2015, in Yerevan, and the second session took place on March 19, 2018, in Washington. On September 15, 2020, the third meeting of the joint Armenia-US Council on Trade and Investment was held online, during which issues of mutual interest between Armenia and the United States were discussed on labour, technical barriers to trade, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program provided by the US to Armenia, public health and phytosanitary requirements for import to the US, WTO negotiations, trade diplomacy cooperation, as well as possible areas of cooperation on COVID-19 in various sectors, and other issues. The Armenia-US business roundtable is scheduled for March 2021.