Today, the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani were present at the closing ceremony of the Armenia-Iran Business Forum which took place at the Radisson Blue Hotel compound.
The Forum was organized by the Armenian Development Fund in the framework of the official visit of the President of the IRI to Armenia and is aimed at the deepening of the Armenian-Iranian trade and economic relations.
At the Forum, the President of Armenia made a statement.
Concluding his official visit to the Republic of Armenia, the President of the IRI after the Business Forum left Yerevan.
Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan at the Armenia-Iran Business Forum
Honorable Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I cordially salute the participants and organizers of the traditional Armenian-Iranian Business Forum.
Forums and exhibitions such as this one, and among them I would like to mention the Armenia Expo 2016 exhibition, which took place last October in Iran, have become an important platform which bring together representatives of the state and business sectors of our countries and provide them with the opportunity to discuss the existing problems, to develop practical mechanisms for the expansion of the economic cooperation between our countries, and allow to pre-set new areas for cooperation.
Currently, the existing potential for the development of the economic relations between our two countries is not fully utilized, and to be precise and frank, I need to say that we are using only a negligible part of that potential.
It is necessary to bring our trade and economic relations in line with the high level Armenian-Iranian political relations which will allow to bring to life major economic projects, and we have a positive experience on this, particularly, in the area of energy.
Today I have asked Mr. President to encourage major entrepreneurs working in different areas to come to Armenia and establish businesses here. On my behalf, I promised to encourage the Armenian businessmen to do the same at the Islamic Republic of Iran. I will keep it under my personal control all the businesses that the Iranian entrepreneurs will establish in Armenia.
We also want for the Iranian capital to be more visible in Armenia which will be mutually beneficial for the economies of our two countries. Certainly, many Iranian businessmen have been doing successful business in Armenia for a long time now, but I hope that this Forum will allow the business circles of Iran to discover new, still untapped investment opportunities in Armenia.
Today in Armenia every prerequisite has been created to make investments and conduct successful business. First of all, I would like to mention that even though Armenia is a country with small and open economy and for that very reason is susceptible to the negative impulses coming from outside, nonetheless thanks to the tax, budgetary and monetary policies we have been able to ensure a stable macroeconomic environment in the country. There is no doubt that the constant improvement of the country’s business and investment climate is important. In recent years a great amount of work has been done in that area which have received commendation of our international partners. However, we will not be content with the results. Thus, we intend through the legislative reforms to provide for the national and most favoured nation treatment, to define more clearly guarantees provided to foreign investors; we intend to allow the businesses the opportunity to use present and future privileges, and install modern mechanisms for the resolution of investment disputes. To assist the businesses and promote the development of the business climate, we consistently curtail and simplify a number of procedures.
A comparative advantage of making investments in Armenia lies in the fact that our country has preferential trade regime with many countries. Businessmen of these countries working in Armenia can benefit from the wide opportunities provided by Armenia’s membership to the Eurasian Economic Union. Goods made in Armenia with zero customs fee, without any administrative hurdles can freely enter the 180 million strong market of the members of the Eurasian Economic Union. Besides, our country has a free trade agreement with almost all countries of the CIS countries. Armenia enjoys also the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) with the US, Canada, Switzerland, Japan and Norway and advantages of the GSP+ system provided by the EU.
As a neighbour and friendly for Iran country, Armenia may also become a gateway and additional transport corridor towards the EU and CIS member states. With this regard, I stress the importance of the North-South highway as the shortest transit route linking the ports of the Black Sea to the seaports of the Persian Gulf.
I will also note that Armenia is actively engaged in the negotiations between the Eurasian Economic Commission and Iran which are aimed at signing the agreement on the free trade zone as soon as possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
There is no doubt that our bilateral economic relations have great potential; however, there are certain difficulties on the road for their disclosure which require us to work daily with diligence and make joint decisions. In particular, the entrepreneurs of the two countries continue to view as rather complicated regulations related to business activities and investments. Among the pending issues I would underscore also the facilitation of the procedures related to the import of goods from Armenia into Iran and vice versa, in Syunik marz – issues of cooperation between the free economic zone to be created in the area bordering Iran and Iranian Aras free economic zone.
Nevertheless, I am confident that the close economic cooperation between our countries should be aimed not only at the strengthening of the trade ties but at the development of the science-based economy, with the use of modern technologies.
I would also like to mention that success registered in Iran in recent years, e.g. in the area nanotechnology, and Armenia’s achievements in the area of information technologies prove that it is possible to have serious accomplishments in the area of high technologies even when there exist external limitations or scare resources. Undoubtedly, unification of the scientific and innovative potential of the two friendly and neighbouring states will promote the deepening of the economic cooperation and will enhance the competitiveness of our industries. Thus, I view as necessary the establishment of permanent working links between the representatives of the areas of modern and high technology areas.
I would like to mention with satisfaction that during the latest session of the Armenian-Iranian intergovernmental commission there was adopted a decision and have already been created four sub-commissions on concrete areas. I believe it will invigorate the activities in certain areas.
The areas of pharmaceuticals, medicine, jewellery production, textile, mining, agriculture, food processing, transport can become possible areas of cooperation for the Iranian entrepreneurs, and the list goes on and on. I see great potential for the deepening of cooperation in the areas of culture, healthcare, education, and tourism. With this regard, I attach special importance to the agreements reached by our countries on the visa free regime.
Today, Mr. President inquired what the dynamics are this year with regard to the increase or decrease in the area of tourism. I told him that in the first six months of the year, 260,000 tourists from Iran visited the Republic of Armenia, while during the previous year their number was almost the half of it. I hope that at the end of this year, God willing, we will cross the threshold of 300,000.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I truly hope that the Forum will facilitate the discovery of the opportunities existing in our countries and will pre-set the best formats for cooperation.
I invite the Iranian companies to make investments in Armenia in every area of interest. I assure you once again that we are ready to give special attitude to every investment project, based on the needs of the investor.
Thank you, Honorable Mr. President, for your participation and assistance to the developing of the economic ties between our countries as well.