Sargsyan, Hollande attend Armenian-French Business Forum in Yerevan

President Serzh Sargsyan and the President of France Francois Hollande having arrived in Armenia on a state visit today took part in the Armenian-French business forum and made statements. The Presidents of Armenia and France also answered the questions of the forum participants.

Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan at opening ceremony of Armenian-French business forum

Distinguished Mr. President,
Honorable businessmen,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am glad that President Hollande’s state visit is marked by the Armenian-French business forum. That is why President Hollande’s state visit starts exactly at this event. The economic component is of special importance for both Armenia and France and thus we are committed to bringing this sector to conformity with the level of our political dialogue.

I am glad to see businessmen representing multifarious sectors to be present here. This kind of meetings not only give us a chance to stimulate the trade and economic relations but also are an important platform to introduce the values and principles underlying the development of Armenia’s economy.

I am sure that the existence of relaible business relations is vital in terms of establishing long-range business ties, implementing mutually beneficial projects and making long-term investments. In this regard, the Armenian and French peoples have covered a long road having an opportunuty to get to know each other and cooperate closely since the Early Middle Ages. Already from the 11-14 centuries, the Armenian kings of the Kingdom of Cilicia granted a broad privilages to French merchants, while in the 17th century, Cardinal Richelieu gave a special status to Armenian merchants. Armenians contributed to the foundation of the first cafes in Marseille and then in Paris. The positive experinece of the past is the key basis on which we should expand and reinforce our economic ties.

Honorable businessmen,

We are confident that developing a stable and viable economy under the conditions of global challenges and limited reources is impossible without proper managment, the rule of law, effective public services, not to talk about a free and transparent business environement. The continual improvement of the business environment is the backbone of our economic development. For that purpose we we have initiated large-scale economic reforms in improving the tax system, founding and registering enterprises, the protection of investors, as well as in a number of other sectors.

Simultaneously, Armenia’s decision to join the Eurasian Customs Union does not mean at all that the role of the European Union as a key economic region is going to reduce for Armenia anyhow. I am confident that the Generlized System of Preferences granted to Armenia by European countries will render European markets more attractive for our exporters and will foster the export of Armenian goods to Europe. At the same time, Armenia’s integration into the Eurasian Customs Union gives European investors a great chance to reach the Eurasian market more easily through Armenia’s territory because no CIS country is as close to Europe in terms of economic freedom and market regulation as it is Armenia. This is proved by various indexes provided by international structures in recent times. Today, the Armenian economy is more liberal and attractive for foreign capital. In terms of economic freedom our country takes the 41th place in 2014, and according to the annual rating report by Doing Business 2014 Armenia is the 37th among 185 countries taking its place next to France.

Honorable participants,

I am glad to note that in recent 22 years Armenia and France have promoted all-inclusive and mutually beneficial cooperation as a result of which we have a dynamic agenda and privilaged relations.

We are happy to see the French business community of about 180 companies established in Armenia which include more than 20 large enterprises – Pernod Ricard, Orange, Credit Agricole, Veolia, Sor, Alcatel – and others. Certainly, this implies investments which cross the one-billion-dollar threshold in last 6 years and exceed the indicators of the previous period approximately by 10 times.

We consider it an honor that the number of the French large companies in Armenia will increase thanks to the hypermarket chain Carrefour. This fact by itself means that Armenia provides favorable conditions for making foreign investments.

Armenia can attract investments in the nuclear energy sector, as well as in the sectors of restored energy and especially of geothermal energy. It is of great importance for me and President Hollande that the business circles of our countries engage in mutually beneficial cooperation in multifarious sectors of reciprocal concern especially in pharmaceutics, agriculture, wine-making, jewelry, textile industry, as well as in the areas of information technology, exact architechture and tourism. It is important for us since it expands the potential and inclusiveness of our political dialogue.

The Yerevan-Paris direct flight implemented regularly by French Airlines, the elimination of entrance visa regime for EU citizens from 1 January 2013 and EU visa facilitation for the citizens of Armenia from 1 January of this year give additional incentives for intensifying business contacts and promoting tourism.

The Armenian-French trade and industry chambers in Marseille, Nice, Paris should assume a more active role in stimulating the collaboration by cooperating closely with the Armenian Development Agency and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Armenia.

We clearly understand that the long-term success of developing economies also depends on stimulating business activities. Accordingly, we are ready to encourage the access of French companies into the Armenian market where free economic zones are also formed the first of which is already opened and intends to produce innovative technologies developing intensively in Armenia. By the way, such world-famous companies as Synopsys, Microsoft, Siemens have made investments in this sector. I am confident that you will be interested in taking these opportunities as well.

Honorable businessmen,

I am full of hope that you will take full advantage of the forum in order to establish new business ties. With that end in view, I announce the opening of the forum and wish you success. I am pleased to give the floor to the President of the French Republic Mr. Francois Hollande.

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