The first meeting of the Armenia-U.S. Council on Trade and Investment was held in Yerevan on November 17, 2015.
This Council was established in May 2015 under a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Government of the United States of America for further strengthening and deepening of the Armenian-American economic cooperation, as well as expansion of turnover of products and services between two countries.
The Armenian delegation was headed by Karen Chshmaritian, Minister of Economy of RA, while the u.S. delegation was led by Elizabeth Hafner, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative.
The Council on Trade and Investment included a high-level U.S. delegation from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of State and the trade representative’s office. The meeting was attended by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Armenia H.E. Mr. Richard Mills.
From the Armenian side the meeting was attended by the Deputy Minister of Economy Garegin Melkonyan, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Arayik Petrosyan, representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Economy, Finance, Agriculture, Development Foundation of Armenia, Chamber of Commerce, the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia, the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia (AmCham) and other interested institutions.
Addressing the meeting, Armenian Economy Minister Karen Chshmaritian said: “Armenia is ready to become a center of interests for international business community, adding traditional Armenian hospitality to the favorable conditions for business activities. In this context I would propose to consider the opportunities to establish headquarters of international companies in Armenia, especially considering, that the U.S. investors have already appreciated the opportunities of Armenia, particularly in the spheres of tourism, information and high technologies, consulting”.
The perspectives and opportunities of the growth of mutual trade and investment between Republic of Armenia and the United States were discussed. On the agenda were discussions on intellectual property rights, customs clearances, technical barriers to trade, sanitary measures for agriculture, investment promotion efforts, private sector engagement, government procurement, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and environmental and labor issues.
“By identifying and addressing these technical issues, we will deepen the trade relationship between the U.S. and Armenia,” said U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills.
In addition to the bilateral meeting, a roundtable discussion was held with interested private sector stakeholders. This was the first such meeting, with plans to continue them annually.
“Business leaders and the private sector play an important role in policy and regulatory decision-making,” Ambassador Mills said. “This roundtable discussion helped provide an opportunity for stakeholders to consult on the on-going trade discussions.”
A joint action plan outlining further steps for promoting mutual trade and investment, as well as expanding areas of cooperation is expected to be adopted at the outcome of the meeting.
The Minister of Economy Karen Chshmaritian expressed confidence that “Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Government of the United States of America creates new opportunities for promotion of investment and trade between two countries, expanding existing areas of cooperation, identifying new areas of cooperation”.