06, 2014

Statement by RA President Serzh Sargsyan at Armenian-Austrian economic forum


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

I am delighted that my visit to friendly Austria has been marked by the organization of an Armenian-Austrian business forum. This event is launched under the patronage of me and President Fischer of Austria since we put special emphasis on strengthening the business ties between our countries and promoting economic cooperation. I am very happy that President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber Mr. Leitl is also present here.

Such representative forums are not only a good way of stimulating trade and economic relations, but also are an important platform for mutual dialogue and mutual recognition. It is very crucial that the participating Armenian and Austrian businessmen representing multiple business spheres get to know each other well.

I welcome the fact that the trade and economic cooperation between our countries is reinvigorating. As Mr. President mentioned, until 2008 our volumes and indicators had been much better than today, but fortunately, two years ago we again started to sustain growth. The present growth rates give us a hope that we will exceed those indicators in the foreseeable future despite my conviction that it does not reflect our entire cooperation potential. I am confident that there are numerous goods and services both in Austria and Armenia which can have a high demand in the Austrian and Armenian markets. I do not have even the tiniest doubt about it. The level of our bilateral trade is low, and the types of circulated goods are limited. Thus, I would like to urge both the participants of this forum and our relevant state bodies to be proactive in giving birth to new economic projects. In this regard, the Armenian-Austrian inter-governmental commission the 6th session of which was held in Yerevan this April has an important mission to carry out.

Over 30 Armenian companies are participating in this business forum representing the spheres of electronics, information technologies, pharmaceutics, agriculture and food recycling, tourism and financial services. Of course, the presence of the latter ones is not an accident: Armenia has managed to maximize its cooperation potential in the mentioned spheres.

Armenia which, according to archeologists, has millennium-old traditions of wine-making, and its jewelry making and carpet making have become a national business card, today also holds a special place on the international map of information technologies.

I think it is no coincidence that the Austrian government has included Armenia in its country cooperation priority list. This speaks for our mutual commitment to advance the collaboration. I am glad that we already have positive cooperation experience between Austrian Raiffeisen Bank and the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Armenia, as well as between the Development Bank of Austria and Ameriabank. In addition, owing to the cooperation between the Armenian company Aske and the Austrian company Siemens VAI Metals Technologies, at present a large scale metallurgical production has been initiated in Armenia. By the way, the cooperation agreement was concluded two years ago during Mr. Fischer’s official visit to the Republic of Armenia when we again held a business forum in Yerevan.

The regular Yerevan-Vienna flights implemented by Austrian Airlines, the elimination of entrance visa regime with the European Union beginning from January 2013 and the facilitation of the EU visa application procedure for Armenian citizens since January 1 this year, as well as the document on cooperation in tourism signed during this visit give new momentum to expanding business contacts and promoting tourism. We can assure that there is a relevant legal and contractual field underlying the economic cooperation between Armenia and Austria which guarantees establishment of safe business ties.

Honorable colleagues,

Since its independence, Armenia has chosen the economic liberalism as a development model, which implies effective functioning of institutions, high level of public services and most importantly a transparent and free business environment. For that purpose, extensive reforms have been implemented and are implemented in Armenia with the assistance of our European colleagues as well, especially in the spheres of taxation, establishment and registration of enterprises and investor protection.

I would like to put special emphasis on one essential circumstance: in the present interconnected and rapidly changing world trust is among the most serious guarantees of economic cooperation. In order to get to know each other better, we should strengthen humanitarian ties which will lay down a firm foundation for enlarging our business contacts as well. I would be glad to offer the relevant state bodies to engage in organizing Austrian cultural events in Armenia and the reverse, implementing specialist and student exchange programs and intensifying scientific connections. This is very crucial.

Honorable ladies and gentlemen,

You know that Armenia has chosen the path of joining the Eurasian Economic Union. It is in no way reduces our intention to advance our relations with the European Union.

By granting a status of the Generalized System of Preferences Plus to Armenia, the European Commission gives a serious impulse to Armenian manufacturers. Concurrently, Armenia’s integration into the Eurasian Economic Union opens up new prospects for European investors by simplifying their penetration into the Eurasian market having 170 million consumers. Armenia is a leading CIS country in terms of its economic freedom and application of market regulations. It is proved by numerous ratings published by authoritative international organizations. Our country holds the 41th place in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, and in the “Doing Business 2014” annual report Armenia is ranked 37th among 185 countries and is placed immediately between France and Belgium.

I would be happy to invite Austrian companies to do business in Armenia. Our country can become a useful platform for the well-known Austrian food recycling companies Spitz and Darbo by offering healthy and tasty agricultural raw materials, for the world-famous jewelry company Frey Wille by offering qualified goldsmiths and granting special privileges in free jewelry economic zone (by the way, there are more than thousand famous jewelry companies in the world with Armenian capital or owned by Armenians operating in all parts of the world, almost in all countries and cities), for the mineral raw materials recycling company Asamer Basaltic Fibers by offering a wide range of natural stones, for the pharmaceutical companies G.L. Pharma and Genericon Pharma who can take full advantage of free economic zones.

Be sure that your steps targeted at advancing the Armenian-Austrian trade and economic relations are in the focus of our attention. We understand that in developing economies long-term successes depend on stimulating business activities, that is why in case of large investments, especially in innovative technologies, we are ready to enforce a special law on a given investment and give tax exemptions and by this I refer to the corporate tax as well.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Concluding my speech, I wish you established long-term partnership ties as a result of this forum taking place at the wonderful building of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber for the benefit of the friendly Armenian and Austrian people.

Thank you.

I am grateful, Mr. President, for your participation and for finding time for and showing interest in promoting business activities between our two countries and of course, I am thankful to Mr. Leitl for holding this event.

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