Books on Armenia
Principal ethnic groups
Update No: 296 - (26/08/05)
GDP growing rapidly, drawing Western donors praise
Western donors recently praised Armenia's economic growth. Officials from
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donor organisations believe Armenia
has taken drastic steps to reduce poverty. Armenia's gross domestic product
(GDP) expanded 10.2 percent year-on-year in January-June 2005. GDP growth has
averaged 11 per cent during the previous four years.
Armenia's foreign trade was up 26.9 per cent for January-June and grew 8.1 per
cent year-on-year in June. Armenian GDP grew 10.1 per cent in 2004, industrial
output increased 2.1per cent and agricultural production rose 14.5 per cent.
"Armenia is on a promising path toward sustained high growth and the
alleviation of poverty," Agustin Carstens, the IMF's deputy managing
director, said at the end of a mid-July visit to Yerevan. Household income
surveys regularly conducted by the Armenian government show that the proportion
of Armenians living below the official poverty line shrunk from 55 per cent in
1999 to just below 43 per cent in 2003. The poverty rate would stand at 32 per
cent if it were calculated using World Bank methodology that uses consumption
expenditure, as opposed to income. Each income survey is based on data collected
from about 5,000 households. Officials said that the results of similar research
conducted last year and to be released this autumn will show a further drop in
poverty. Carstens said that very few countries have achieved progress within a
short duration. In May, the IMF approved of Armenia's economic aid by offering a
three-year, 34m Euro loan agreement.
Carstens strongly endorsed the Armenian government's economic strategy.
"The IMF stands ready to continue to assist Armenia with policy and
technical advice, as well as financial support in implementing its reform
agenda," he said.
Brian Kearney, who runs a US government-funded project to reform Armenia's
social security system, said that economic growth has widely improved the living
standards. The National Statistical Service of Armenia (NSSA) estimated in a
2003 report that the average Armenian family spent two thirds of its income on
food - a telling indicator of persisting hardship." The Armenian
government's tax revenues are on track to rise by about 30 per cent this year,
but they will still make up a very modest 16 per cent of the GDP.
However, unemployment is still the major problem. The official unemployment
rate, measured by the Armenian ministry of Labor, stands at just over 10 per
cent. According to economists, first-half growth in this year appears to be
connected with a 43 per cent surge in the construction sector. Another important
factor is cash remittances from hundreds of thousands of Armenians working
abroad. The Armenian central bank said that remittances jumped 50 per cent to
750m Euro in 2004.
Armenian leaders talk shop with IMF
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Managing Director Agustin Carstens
arrived in Armenia on July 20th to discuss with the Armenian leadership aspects
of cooperation between Yerevan and the IMF as well as economic reforms in the
country, the IMF office in Yerevan told Interfax. This was Carstens' first visit
to Armenia and he expressed his satisfaction with his visit to Armenia.
According to him, the aim of his trip was to meet with the Armenian authorities
and review the progress they have achieved over the past several years. Carstens
held discussions with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan, deputy speaker
of the National Assembly, finance and economy minister, foreign affairs minister
and chairman of the central bank of Armenia, as well as representatives of the
international community. During a previous meeting in Washington with Armenian
ambassador to the US Tatoul Markarian, Carstens praised the economic reforms in
Armenia, which according to him had resulted in stable growth in the country's
economy, a reduction in the poverty level and the strengthening of the national
He said, "Most recently, in May the IMF's executive board approved a new
3-year programme under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility Arrangement in
support of the government's economic programme through 2008. Armenia will be
eligible to draw about US$34m under this concessional facility over the next 3
Armenia to host international conference on IT industry
An International conference entitled "Information Science and
Information Technologies (CSIT 2005) will be held in Yerevan from September
19-23, a member of the RA National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Mariam Harutyunian
told Interfax recently. The RA NAS and the institute of informatics and
automation problems initiated the event. Harutyunian said that scientists from
the United States, France, Switzerland, India, Russia, Georgia, Canada,
Australia, Finland and Ukraine would participate in the conference.
The purpose of the conference is the exchange of scientific and technological
information between the scientists engaged in information science and
technology. The reports will be made on algorithms-automates and logic, discrete
mathematics and combinatory analysis, information theory and encoding theory,
artificial intelligence and management systems, database, scientific
calculations, telecommunication, computer network design, information
technologies and their application.
Armenia plans to build new nuclear power units
Armenian Prime Minister, Andranik Margaryan, met with the chief of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Muhammad El-Baradei, during the
latter's visit to Yerevan on July 29. During the meeting, Margaryan said that
the government of Armenia believed the construction of new nuclear power units
is a strategic goal to maintain and enhance the republic's energy security and
independence, Interfax News Agency reported.
Margaryan said Armenia was committed to using nuclear energy for peaceful
purposes only and pursuing a nuclear non-proliferation policy. The Armenian
nuclear power station was launched in 1980, but its operations were suspended in
March 1989 for political reasons, given the earthquake that had just taken
place. It restarted operations in November 1995 due to a severe energy crisis in
The station's second unit is equipped with Russia's first-generation VVER-440
reactor and generates an average of 30-40 per cent of all electric power in the
republic. For his part, El-Baradei said the IAEA could assist Armenia in
conducting feasibility studies for the construction of a new nuclear power
He praised Armenia's progress in enhancing the safety of the country's nuclear
power station, but still much was left to be done. He suggested the drafting of
a systematised plan with an outline of the project's timeframe and financial
breakdown to simplify creditors' efforts. According to experts, the nuclear
power station can operate until 2016.
In September 2003, the nuclear power station was transferred to a subsidiary of
Russia's electricity monopoly RAO UES and Rosenergoatom Corporation for five
years of trust management.
The European Union insisted that Armenia's nuclear power station be deactivated
and is ready to allocate 100m Euro for this purpose. However, Armenian experts
said that the creation of alternative energy capacities in the mountainous
republic would require almost 1bn Euro.
Iran, Armenia discuss stronger bilateral ties
Armenian Prime Minister, Andranik Margaryan, and the visiting Governor General
of Iranian southern province Hormuzgan, Ebrahim Derazgisou, discussed ways of
expanding bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields at a recent
meeting in Yerevan, New Europe reported.
Margaryan said Armenia is interested in promoting ties with Iran. He added that
strategic projects now implemented jointly by Iran and Armenia would further
consolidate mutual cooperation. Derazgisou, for his part, said that Hormuzgan
province which is located at the beginning of North-South corridor played a
crucial role in transit of goods in the region.
Margaryan expressed his congratulations to Iranian president-elect Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad on his landslide victory in the ninth presidential election and
hoped bilateral ties would receive further boost with the coming to power of the
new government in Iran. Meanwhile, Derazgisou also met with head of the Armenian
presidential administration, Artashes Tumanian. During the talks, Derazgisou
voiced Iran's readiness to expand economic cooperation with Armenia. Tumanian
stressed the need to make use of bilateral potentials by tradesmen and economic
and industrial officials considering the important role Hormuzgan province plays
in trade exchanges.
Japanese interest grows in Armenian market
Armenian Deputy Trade and Economic Development Minister, Tigran Davtian,
recently announced that Japanese entrepreneurs are showing increasing interest
in Armenia and are sure to enter its market, Interfax News Agency reported.
An Armenian-Japanese business conference was held in Moscow in late June.
"At any rate, the Moscow conference was the first and serious step as a
follow-up to Prime Minister Margaryn's visit to Japan," the deputy minister
said, adding also that Japanese businessmen's impression about Armenia from the
conference was very positive. He said leading Japanese companies, however,
before deciding to enter a market usually weigh all possible positive and
negative consequences According to him, the next such conference is likely to
take place in Yerevan. Davtian said the Japanese are interested specially in
Armenia's tourist sector, electronics and trade. Armenians presented to the
Japanese up to 24 programmes, encompassing food, light industry, tools building
and high technology sectors.