Tag Archives: economy

On 17 February, the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski, made a one-day working visit to Gyumri, Shirak region. The day began with official meetings with Hovsep Simonyan, the Governor of Shirak region, and Samvel Balasanyan, the Mayor of Gyumri. The parties discussed development priorities for the region and the city, focusing on the cultural and creative sectors.
Later on, at a press conference, Ambassador Świtalski announced the launch of the €1 million Grant Scheme for Regional Development. This is aimed at ensuring economic growth, creating jobs and reducing emigration by promoting culture and the creative sector in Shirak region.

ARS_7522The Ambassador highlighted the importance of the project, especially in Shirak region: ‘Gyumri is one of the best places to launch a project to develop the economy through culture. Gyumri has cultural potential and huge capacity. The EU is very adamant to promoting regional development in Armenia. We believe that one of the obstacles confronting Armenia is the imbalance between the capital and the regions. In order to develop successfully and in a sustainable way, this gap should be filled. Therefore, we believe that the EU Delegation to Armenia should be orientated towards the purpose of regional development’.

This grant scheme is the second call for proposals under the Pilot Regional Development Programme Grant Scheme (PRDP GS). The overall objective of PRDP GS is to create more economic opportunities in the Armenian regions.The first call for proposals was published in September 2015 and 7 PRDP grant contracts were signed with the EU and the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration as a result. Project implementation started at the beginning of this year.
The second call for proposals will select one or two additional regional projects focused on culture and innovation for funding. Eligible organisations from all regions can apply if they find a suitable regional partner from the target region.
The available budget for this second call for proposals is almost €1 million, of which €700,000 is provided by the European Union and €175,000 by the Armenian government. Applicants have to provide a minimum of 10% in co-financing themselves. Selected projects should be implemented within a maximum of 24 months. The deadline for the submission of concept notes is 24 March 2017. Full project proposals will be elaborated only by short-listed candidates.

ARS_7862In the evening, Ambassador Świtalski, Governor Simonyan and Mayor Balasanyan met again at a concert of classical music. The concert entitled ‘Culture and Development: Building Bridges’ marked the launch of the grant scheme which will promote the development of cultural and creative sectors in Shirak region.

The EU Delegation to Armenia invited representatives from businesses exporting to the EU, as well as those which intend to do so, and journalists to take part in an information event dedicated to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), which took place on 10 November 2015.
The aim of the event was to improve the use of GSP+ in Armenia, to increase and, in particular, to expand the range of products that are being exported to the EU. The event provided detailed information on EU export opportunities to GSP+ potential beneficiaries.
Speakers at the event talked about the procedures and goals of GSP+, its trade benefits, its rules of origin and customs formalities, its practical application, and the EU export helpdesk.
ARS_7568The Deputy Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation, Jose-Maria Medina Navarro, talked about the benefits of the GSP+ for Armenia and Armenian business representatives: ‘The EU is Armenia’s largest partner and, at the same time, Armenia exports iron, silk and textiles to the EU. Armenia has the potential to access the European market more extensively and that is why we are here today. GSP+ is only able to provide to a very limited number of countries that meet certain criteria set by the EU concerning the effective implementation of the 27 major international conventions on human rights, labour rights, environment and good governance’.
ARS_7577The main speaker of the event was Alina Boiciuc, Policy Coordinator for Trade and Sustainable Development, Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) at the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission. During her presentation, Boiciuc talked about the EU GSP and GSP+ schemes, EU-Armenia trade, the use of GSP+ potential and other issues. ‘With GSP+, Armenia has access to the European market – 28 countries and more than 500 million customers. Now, when Armenian businessmen export to the EU market and not declare products under the GSP+, they pay more taxes. That is why we want to tell you more about the benefits you have’.
Andrea Scheidl, Assistant Policy Officer and Coordinator of Export Helpdesk Activities at the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission, introduced the EU export helpdesk: ‘Exporting to Europe is possible with 6 easy steps. Firstly, you have to check the customs code for your product – the results for your product will be there. Then check custom duties and rule of origin for your product, check statistics, and click on resources to find out more on product codes, chambers of commerce and customs offices in each EU country or additional information for your country. All this you can do by visiting: www.exporthelp.europa.eu’.
The EU is seeking to establish closer relations with Armenia to achieve deeper economic cooperation and integration. Despite the fact that Armenia has decided not to pursue more preferential trade relations with the EU through the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, Armenia was included in the new initiative of the GSP+ regime from 1 January 2014, which means that more than 6,000 products of Armenian origin can now be imported to the EU with the preferences offered by GSP+ (zero or reduced taxes). GSP+, unlike the initial GSP, is more beneficial and flexible.
To benefit from GSP+, Armenia applied to the EU by presenting the whole package verifying compliance with these requirements. Countries that benefit from GSP+ get wider coverage of products (6,291 goods out of 9,655 under EU classifications) to export to the EU with zero or reduced customs duties.
Armenia should continue approximation of trade-related legislation and procedures to the EU and international trade requirements and standards in order to benefit more from the GSP+ and make exports to the EU more diverse.

The EU Delegation to Armenia and the Armenian Young Women’s Association (AYWA) organised a press briefing for journalists on 11 March 2015 in Akhtala within the framework of the EU-funded project called “Social and economic empowerment of women in Armenia”. The aim of the event was to introduce the public to ongoing achievements of the project and to celebrate International Women’s Day together.
The head of AWYA, Lilit Asatryan, spoke about the EU’s support for women’s empowerment in Armenia: ‘About 140 women and young ladies have taken part in training courses as part of the project. Overall, about 62 business ideas have been introduced by the participants, 12 of which are group tasks. 14 of the introduced projects have received positive feedback and have been implemented by women: 1 project in Akhtala and 2 in Alaverdi. The other 11 projects that received positive feedback are awaiting final approval with regard to registration and documentation; they will also receive financing in the form of a grant’.
ARS_3253Three women have already received financial support under the project. Armenouhi Mamyan’s bakery was reopened after technical support provision. Irina Israelyan received financial support for developing a hostel business and founding a camping area. Finally, equipment for baking production was provided to Anahit Jaghinyan.
Besides the above mentioned, there is also one project that has received a grant in Akhtala which is a social entrepreneurship project through which a Puppet Theatre was founded. Previously, puppet theatre performances had to be organised in different communities across Lori region.
The Deputy Governor of Lori, Arsen Darbinyan, and the Mayor of Akhtala, Hayk Khachikyan, were present at the event. They actively offered support during project implementation together with the heads of the Akhtala and Alaverdi communities. ‘It will be very good if such kind of projects would continue, because women’s social issues are being solved with their help. These projects are very important for all of us,’ stated Darbinyan.
ARS_3244The Lori regional communities of Aktala, Alaverdi, Shamlugh, Shnogh, Teghut, Medz Ayrum, Odzun, Haghpat, Chochkan and Akori founded “Women’s Councils” within the framework of the project. These councils have actively been taking part in community life, in decision-making processes, in raising awareness on women’s problems, and in solving these problems in cooperation with the wider community.
The EU contribution to the project is €768,357. The programme is being implemented by AYWA, Italian NGO “CISP”, the Office of the Governor of Lori, and the municipality of Vanadzor. The duration of the project is three years, until April 2016.
At the end of the event, a theatre troupe founded within the framework of the project performed “Little Red Riding Hood”.

Two handbooks entitled Linking multinational enterprises and Armenian SMEs in the case of the construction materials sector and Connecting Armenian SMEs to global values chains: The case of agribusiness were launched at an event devoted to “Supporting SME competitiveness in the Eastern Partner countries: Focus on Armenia” held on 4 March 2015. Speakers at the event included Dirk Lorenz, Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Garagin Melkonyan, the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Economy, Gregory Leconte, Project Manager of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) “Eurasia Competitiveness” programme, and Cornelia Skokov, GIZ Team Leader.
Armenia was included in the OECD “Eurasia Competitiveness” programme in December 2013, after which working group meetings and roundtables were held. The publication and presentation of these handbooks is proof of the work carried out by SME competitiveness experts and working groups. The titles of the handbooks call for action plans for reforms that may connect Armenian SMEs in the fields of agribusiness and construction materials to partners in the EU and worldwide. “Eurasia Competitiveness” is being implemented by the OECD in partnership with GIZ, and is co-financed by the European Union.
ARS_2863Lorenz emphasised the importance of the project and expressed confidence that the results of cooperation will contribute to the improvement of the business environment in Armenia: “We think that handbooks are instrumental when it comes to further paving the way for SME internationalisation in the country. It is crucial to take concrete actions that do not just remain on paper, so that SMEs can feel the concrete results and improvements. In this regard, we are looking forward – the European Union will receive regular updates from the ministry on how these actions are being performed and implemented”.
Melkonyan introduced the role of the Ministry and other organisations involved in the programme, talking about its implementation: “Two main directions were chosen: construction materials and agribusiness. Extensive work has been carried out to study these directions, to raise problems, and to develop proposals – all of this has been reflected in the reports. Several working groups have investigated these areas, including experts from international, governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as the private sector. We wanted to involve all interested parties in this process. Our goal is to attract investors to the construction materials sector and, as a result, improve production capacity. The main objective in agribusiness is to promote the development and internationalisation of SMEs to be able to increase export volumes”.
ARS_2805Leconte summarised the key recommendations of the published handbooks: “There are some challenges and recommendations to connect Armenian SMEs to agribusiness global value chains. Some of those challenges include little knowledge of foreign markets, lack of efficient export promotion, and poor export-related business skills. In the handbooks you can find recommendations for such cases. For example, experts recommend improving export promotion efforts and disseminating export skills. There has been a lot of research done in this area, and these handbooks will be very useful for relevant stakeholders”.