Armenia is the only country in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) that registered economic growth and did not saw a decline in 2015, the EEU Board member, Minister of Macroeconomics and Main Integration Directions Tatyana Valovaya said during a teleconference with Yerevan from Moscow on May 12.
It is interesting that the EEU official attributed that growth to Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led economic grouping that also includes Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.
“Such an impact is particularly noticeable for new members,” Valovaya said, referring to the fact that Armenia was fully integrated into the customs union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the precursor of the EEU, only at the beginning of 2015.
Throughout 2015, Armenia’s opposition and expert community criticized the government for the decision to join the EEU, as they could not point to any economic advantage gained through membership in this alliance. Critics particularly stressed the circumstance that contrary to expectations a decline was recorded in imports and exports to EEU member countries – Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
According to data of the National Statistical Service, Armenia’s exports in 2015 fell by some 4 percent, while imports fell by more than 26 percent.
Valovaya expressed confidence that this situation can be changed, as she said she saw all conditions for promoting the export of Armenian goods.
“There are no customs restrictions, everything is there for expansion, now the matter is in the business field, and there is a great chance for favorable conditions to export goods to Russia and other EEU member countries. Many businesses in Armenia already use that opportunity,” she said, adding that personally she has seen an increasing number of products of Armenian origin on the Russian market.
Moreover, Valovaya said that the export of Armenian goods to the EEU countries has shown an increase in the first months of 2016.
“Armenia’s export figures are impressive. Statistics shows that in January-February this year exports from Armenia to Belarus increased by 45 percent as compared to the same period last year. Armenia’s exports to Kyrgyzstan increased four-fold. Of course, the volumes are small, but the growth is significant. Armenia’s exports to Russia increased twice,” said the EEU official, promising to try to resolve the difficulties that arise for Armenian entrepreneurs.
“It is necessary to show greater activity. At the same time, if they [businesspeople] encounter any obstacles, we will always be happy to provide the necessary assistance within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Commission,” Valovaya said.
Valovaya also touched on the issue of introducing a single currency in the EEU, stressing that it is not necessary at this point.
“This calls for a highly integrated market to be formed by 2025. Until there is a unified market, there is no requirement for a single currency either. We do not need to introduce a uniform supranational currency, but we need to use more extensively the Russian ruble, the Kazakh tenge and so on.”
According to Valovaya, there are no prerequisites at the moment for integrating new members in the EEU either.