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Armenia's Economic Pulse

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  • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

    The Solar Dryers Created by Armenian Inventors Can Give a New Impetus
    to the Development of Agriculture

    Inventors anticipate support from the relevant bodies

    28-04-2016 21:22:25 | Armenia | Science and Technology

    “New farmer dryers, which work with the help of bio-energy and solar
    energy, and which “snatch more energy” from sun, will give an
    opportunity to develop the agriculture in Armenia and will enable the
    export of dried fruits and vegetables. “, - assure the authors of
    innovative multifunctional devices, the candidates of technical
    sciences Gurgen Martirosyan and Stepan Khoyetsyan.

    They presented the results of the production tests of solar dryers,
    during the discussion of the “Inventors Club” organized by the
    foundation "Noyan Tapan" , which is known for its support to the
    development of innovative technologies and prospective solutions.
    According to S. Khoyetsyan in Armenia there is no concerned approach
    towards solar energy using, although it is one of unique opportunities
    to ensure maximum profit in agriculture and in many other fields.
    "The solar energy, in terms of perspective, has a serious demand in
    the world today: if we want to operate our factories, then we will
    face to the problems due to lack of sufficient energetic resources,
    while Armenia is one of few sunny countries and can effectively
    benefit from it, "he said.
    According to the inventor, their modest equipment farmer can use for
    drying any type of product, it does not require additional expenses,
    it’s enough only to install the dryer to the specific location and it
    will be able to dry any product all year round.
    Co-author of the invention Gurgen Martirosyan said, that the device
    itself is a space, and in it’s floor there are placed Obsidian stones,
    which are more heat, the surface is covered with polyethylene and is
    attached on wheels in order to move in the direction of the sun's
    rays: “This is a dehydrator device, which dries food with the help of
    solar energy and each food replaced in it become dehydrated and
    dried.” ,- he said, adding that as a result of their experiments, they
    gained natural food, which is significantly different from the food
    gained from other drying technologies. The device in addition to fruit
    and vegetable drying, may also give forage fertilizer, and even grow
    seedling. S. Khoyetsyan explained that solar dryers can also be
    cultivate grape , core, peel, which are an excellent forage. "With
    this, we have fed the animals and got wonderful results." S.
    Khoyetsyan explained that solar dryers can also be cultivate grape
    core, peel, which are excellent forage. "With this, we have fed the
    animals and got wonderful results."
    "We have about 30 kinds of product sample manufactured by this device,
    which are very important for agricultural development. Today in
    Armenian Republic there are approximately 200 thousand not used
    hectares of land, this problem can be solved with organic fertilizer,
    which we can get with the help of solar dryers. The fertilizer will
    nourish the soil and that will provide qualitative increase of product
    and also will give an opportunity for grass flour growing, which
    generally is not done now.” said Khoyetsyan.
    The speaker insisted that the equipment is not that expensive, it
    costs about $ 1,000, but without state assistance it will be difficult
    to convince farmers to purchase it, as the inventor’s work on the
    device should be paid, in order to make products and so after seeing
    it farmer would want to purchase it.
    According to the inventors, they have repeatedly appealed to the
    Ministry of Agriculture, which annually allocates funds for the
    creation of new technologies. "We applied to the program, but no reply
    has been received so far."
    Also they emphasize that the degree of such apathy is caused by clash
    of interests of the relevant bodies, as if their devices spread widely
    and begin to meet farmers' needs, it will affect fertilizer importers.

    https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2...zonNz8Yv0dY&e=


    - See more at:
    https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2...AodDN8P545k&e=
    General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

    Comment


    • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

      http://www.rferl.org/content/armenia.../27713201.html

      Armenia Looks To IT To Lift Economy

      By Karine Simonyan and Charles Recknagel
      May 03, 2016

      Long after classes finish in the village of Aygek, the lights in one room of the school building burn late into the evening.

      Inside, 25 students are tapping on keyboards and assembling simple robots. It is a strange sight in this village close to Yerevan where children usually grow up to become farmers or shopkeepers like their parents.

      Don't these kids feel out of step with their peers?

      "My friends sometimes say that I spend too little time with them because I spend a lot of time in front of my computer," says Vazgen Hovhannisian, who is 16 and busy creating a new computer game. "But now all of my friends play the games I've programmed."

      The village computer club is part of a quiet revolution going on in Armenia that could dramatically change the country's economic fortunes in the future.

      Largely agricultural Armenia suffers from double-digit unemployment and nearly one-third of the population lives below the poverty line. But a burgeoning IT sector is giving hope that this landlocked land in the heart of the Caucasus could play a significant role in the global computer industry and one day grow prosperous through virtual commerce.

      While Armenia's overall economic growth rate was 3 percent in 2015, the IT sector has grown at an average rate of about 22 percent annually since 2008. Today, the IT sector employs some 15,000 people.

      That makes it an eye-popping success story in a country which, apart from mineral resources, has few products to export internationally. Armenia's economic situation is further constrained by a continuing trade embargo imposed by two of its neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan, over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

      The Soviet Union's 'Silicon Valley'

      Industry association leaders say they hope that by promoting IT the country can revive days past when, long before the Internet, Armenia was one of the computer powerhouses of the Soviet Union.

      "Before 1990, Armenia designed and produced one-third of all the Soviet Union's military electronics, with something like 100,000 people working in this area," says Karen Vardanian, head of the Union of Information Technology Enterprises in Yerevan.

      During the Soviet era, the now-defunct Yerevan Research Institute of Mathematical Machines alone had about 10,000 employees as late as in the 1980s. But the collapse of Armenia's economy that followed the breakup of Soviet Union in 1991 dealt a heavy blow to the country's high-tech sector as well as to funding for mathematics and science education in its universities.

      "While other countries like India and Taiwan became IT powerhouses, Armenia -- once considered the Soviet Union's Silicon Valley -- languished," Vardanian notes.

      Over the past decade, however, IT has made a rapid comeback.Of nearly 500 IT firms operating in Armenia today, almost half have opened since 2007.

      The growth has come as diaspora Armenians in the U.S. and European IT industries have reached back to Armenia as a lower-cost source of skilled labor. A computer professional in Armenia can make $1,500 a month, five times the Armenian average wage, but still a fraction of the average monthly amount of $4,300 earned by an entry-level programmer in the United States.

      Local Startups

      The early foreign pioneers have been followed by others, including in recent years some of the biggest names in the global software development industry such as Oracle and Taiwan's D-Link Corporation, both of which have opened offices in Yerevan.

      But the country has also seen a boom in homegrown IT businesses. One of them, PicsArt, has become one of the world's most popular mobile photo-editing and sharing applications. It was listed by Forbes in 2015 as one of the world's 50 "hottest startups."

      Recognizing the potential, the Armenian government has fostered the sector's growth with tax breaks, including offering tax incentives to startups that employ up to 30 people. The government is also considering giving computer professionals a special 10 percent income-tax rate, compared to the usual 15 percent rate.

      But success has come at an ironic price. Armenia's IT industry today is at the point where its need for trained professionals has grown faster than the country's supply of qualified people.

      Industry experts estimate the sector needs some 2,000 more IT graduates than are available, something that gives people like Samvel Shoukourian, who heads Yerevan State University's IT Educational and Research Center, good reason for headaches.

      "Armenia needs to create a pipeline to produce this set of very qualified information technology specialists because for the moment we have a lack of specialists and every new company that comes to Armenia is interested in a huge number of specialists," he says.

      The shortcomings in the educational system have given rise to a growing network of technology centers for "training up" today's computer graduates. There are nine centers in Yerevan providing additional training for IT professionals and a government-backed "technopark" serving the same purpose in Armenia's second-largest city, Gyumri.

      But it is not just today's computer graduates who are getting attention. The IT industry is also busy encouraging the next generation to get into the field.

      In the village of Aygek, computer teacher Shusan Grigorian hopes that IT will offer her students a possibility to find work without having to go abroad.

      "IT is an area where it does not matter in which corner of the world you are located, because if you are connected to the Internet, it means you’re in the center of the world," she says.
      General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

      Comment


      • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

        Microsoft to prepare large number of specialists in Armenia

        ECONOMY 18:22 04/05/2016

        “Technology has completely changed our lives. Today we have a more
        comfortable life filled IT solutions due to the 4th revolution,” said
        managing director of Microsoft’s public sector business in Central and
        Eastern Europe, Trudy Norris-Grey during “The 4th industrial
        revolution, a path towards effective and innovative management”
        conference held in Yerevan.

        “For example, large IT companies, including that of in Armenia, which
        don’t own vehicles, warehouses, stores, etc., yet they operate in
        those areas. Everything is built on skills,” she said.
        Trudy Norris-Grey told the reporters that she is proud of all the
        achievements Microsoft could provide in Armenia.

        “We have launched more than 200 startups, managed to educate more than
        2500 students in the IT sphere, invested 1.5 million USD in different
        educational programs. I think this is just the beginning,” she added.
        According to Trudy Norris-Grey, Armenia is one of four countries in
        the world where Microsoft has created an innovative centre. She also
        said that they have undertaken the initiative to continue cooperation
        with Armenia to prepare a large number of specialists who will be able
        to demonstrate their skills not only in Armenia but also in the whole
        world.

        Concerning Microsoft’s new suggestions towards business development,
        Trudy Norris-Grey said that new projects are planned in Armenia.

        “I’m sure, if we try to combine the skills and entrepreneurial spirit
        in Armenia, we will succeed,” she concluded.

        https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2...y4lpBGMuWuE&e=
        Hayastan or Bust.

        Comment


        • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

          http://emerging-europe.com/regions/a...growing-world/
          General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

          Comment


          • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

            But if Russian state presence in our energy sector declines, how will the "Russia owns all our energy infrastructure" classic talking point to blame all our problems on survive?


            Russian State Presence in Armenian Energy Sector Declining



            Russia’s economic grip over Armenia may be loosening ever so slightly, highlighted by Moscow’s diminishing role in the South Caucasus country’s power sector.

            Russian gained control over Armenian power plants and the national gas distribution network as a result of controversial assets-for-debt agreements with the Armenian government in 2003-2006. These days, state-run Russian corporations supply the bulk of natural gas consumed by Armenians. Russian companies likewise own many of Armenia’s key energy assets, providing the Kremlin with lots of economic leverage over a country that it considers its closest ally in the Caucasus.

            But Russia’s commanding economic presence now seems to be on the wane. One of the Kremlin-controlled energy giants, Inter RAO, essentially pulled out of Armenia late last year, selling the country’s debt-ridden electricity distribution network and largest thermal-power plant to the Tashir Group, a collection of companies run by Armenian-born businessman Samvel Karapetian. Power plants controlled by the Russian state now account for only up to a quarter of Armenian electricity production, according to a calculation based on National Statistical Service data.

            Last year also saw the sale of Armenia’s largest hydroelectric complex to an American entity, the New York-based ContourGlobal. The $250-million deal marked the largest single private investment coming from the United States in Armenia’s history.

            The planned construction of a major hydroelectric station on the Arax River between Armenia and Iran should further diversify the power sector. The recent lifting of international sanctions against Iran is expected to speed up the repeatedly delayed implementation of the estimated $300-million project.

            In recent months, the Armenian government has also reported preliminary agreements with European investors interested in building two new thermal-power plants in Armenia. The World Bank cautioned in a June 2015 report that the country will need an additional 250 megawatts of gas-fired power by 2020 to avoid an electricity shortage.

            Analysts caution that these developments alone will not significantly reduce Armenia’s dependence on Russia for energy. “Ownership of the power plants, be it Russian or American, doesn’t matter that much,” said Artur Kochnakian, a senior energy economist at the World Bank office in Yerevan. “It has no direct connection with energy security.”

            Kochnakian noted that Russia continues to deliver more than 80 percent of the natural gas used by Armenia and is the sole supplier of fuel to the Metsamor nuclear plant, which produces more than one-third of the country’s electricity. Russia’s Gazprom monopoly also owns the country’s gas distribution network.

            In coming years, though, Yerevan plans to more than triple the presently modest volume of gas imports from Iran.

            Armenia has been paying for Iranian gas with electricity generated at a thermal-power plant located in Yerevan. Its power supplies to the Islamic Republic should rise sharply following the construction of a third electricity transmission line connecting the two neighboring countries. Work on that line began last year and is due to end in 2018.

            A similar new high-voltage facility will also connect Armenia to Georgia. The $115-million project, slated for completion by 2018, is mainly financed by Germany and the European Union. It will allow Armenia to increase its imports of cheap electricity from Georgian hydroelectric stations during the spring and summer, Armenian Deputy Energy Minister Areg Galstian said on April 13. That would presumably make Armenia less reliant on the more expensive supplies from domestic power plants using Russian gas.

            The government has decided to shift to May 2017 a routine shutdown at the Metsamor nuclear power station so that Georgian hydroelectricity, at peak strength in spring and summer, can be imported. Using Russian gas to supply thermal-power plants would be more expensive.

            While Russia may have growing competition in Armenia’s energy sector, Moscow appears determined to remain a big energy player in the Caucasus energy equation. Galstian spoke to journalists after the energy ministers of Armenia, Iran and Russia and a Georgian deputy energy minister tentatively agreed to increase significantly electricity supplies among their countries. They signed a “roadmap” for the creation of a “North-South energy corridor” by 2019.

            As economic analyst Ashot Khurshudian cautioned, diversification of ownership in the energy sector “is certainly reducing some of our energy-related risks,” but the impact of that diversification should not be overestimated.

            In particular, Armenian utility regulators have for years put Gazprom and Russian nuclear fuel suppliers “in a privileged position,” said Khurshudian, who works at the International Center for Human Development (ICHD), a private think-tank in Yerevan. “They always get payments for supplies on time, unlike generation and distribution companies,” he claimed.

            One of those supposed companies, a thermal-power plant located in the central Armenian town of Hrazdan, is owned by Gazprom. Hrazdan is also home to another, bigger and much older, plant that belonged to Inter RAO until September 2015. The Russian company sold it, along with the Electricity Networks of Armenia (ENA) national power utility, to Russian-Armenian billionaire Karapetian’s Tashir Group.

            Born and raised in Armenia, Karapetian since the early 1990s has lived in Russia, where he made a fortune valued by Forbes magazine at over $4 billion. The tycoon has always had closer ties with the Armenian government than the Kremlin. His brother, Karen, is a former chief of staff for President Serzh Sargsyan, and a parliamentary deputy for Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia.

            Building profitable businesses appears to be Samvel Karapetian’s main interest. Shortly after acquiring ENA, Karapetian pledged to crack down on “corrupt employees,” modernize facilities and make the distribution network profitable. Meeting with visiting executives from Moody’s credit ratings agency in February, then-Armenian energy minister Yervand Zakharian claimed that the new ENA management had already cut the company’s massive losses. This has contributed to the overall energy sector’s “financial stability,” an Energy Ministry statement quoted Zakharian as saying.

            The ICHD’s Khurshudian also believes that ENA has benefited from the change in ownership. “The sale of the Inter RAO assets was definitely a positive development because private firms tend to be more efficient than state-owned ones,” he said.

            Regulators have announced plans to reduce power prices within the next month; a decision facilitated, at least in part, by a reduction in ENA’s losses. The only other Armenian power-generating facility currently owned by a state-run Russian company is the Sevan-Hrazdan Cascade, a complex of seven hydroelectric plants. Russian media reported in November that the owner, RusHydro, is now prepared to sell it.

            http://www.eurasianet.org/node/78661
            Azerbaboon: 9.000 Google hits and counting!

            Comment


            • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

              Foreign Currency Reserves in Armenia Fall 10 Percent in First Quarter: Press

              05.12.2016 12:36 epress.am

              Armenia's foreign exchange reserves have dropped by US$172 million to
              US$568 – a fall of 10% in total reserves – since the beginning of
              2016, as reported by Haykakan Zhamanak daily newspaper. And although
              the overall decline in foreign reserves is not unusual for Armenia,
              according to the paper, such a rate can't be considered “traditional.”

              The funds from the country's foreign reserves are usually used for
              foreign debt repayments, and for carrying out currency interventions
              in order to stabilize and maintain the exchange rate of dram.

              “The simultaneous growth in Armenian's foreign debt is especially
              alarming. In the first quarter of this year alone, our external debt
              increased by 576 million dollars, standing at US$ 5.2 billion. In
              other words, during these months, our foreign reserves have registered
              a fall of 10%, while the debt has increased by 12%. Everything
              indicates that the existing negative trends in the Armenian economy
              will continue,” Haykakan Zhamanak writes.

              https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2...RiXkiIiDsiU&e=
              Hayastan or Bust.

              Comment


              • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                Armenia only EEU member-state with economic growth last year – EEU official

                17:29 • 12.05.16

                Last year Armenia was the only Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)
                member-state that recorded economic growth Tatyana Valovaya, EEU Board
                member, Minister in charge of the Development of Integration and
                Macroeconomics, said during a multimedia broadcast.

                According to her, Armenia’s EEU membership is one of the factors that
                accounts for this consistent growth.
                Economic effects are especially appreciable for new EEU members.

                “Armenia saw this positive effect last year and continues seeing it
                this year” she said.

                As to what Armenia should do to increase exports Ms Valovaya said that
                said all the conditions are available.

                “No customs restrictions, and all conditions for expanding exports.
                The question is business environment and ample opportunities are
                available for exporting goods on easy terms to Russia and other
                countries. Many Armenian economic entities have taken advantage of
                these opportunities.”

                Many Armenian products can be seen in Russia.

                Armenia’s exports to Belarus showed a 45% increase this
                January-February as compared with last January-February. Armenia’s
                exports to Kyrgyzstan showed a four-fold increase, and exports to
                Russia doubled.

                “It suggests economic entities are aware of the market potential. They
                should be more active,” Ms Valovaya said.

                https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2...ez-sk0J34sA&e=
                Hayastan or Bust.

                Comment


                • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                  Armenian Government Vows Major Reforms After Karabakh Escalation


                  Sargis Harutyunyan
                  Հրապարակված է՝ 12.05.2016
                  http://www.azatutyun.am/content/arti...medium=twitter

                  Citing “new challenges” emanating from the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Armenian government pledged on Thursday to streamline its expenditures, step up its declared fight against corruption and improve the domestic business environment.

                  Prime Minister Abrahamian announced a push for major reforms as he opened a weekly session of his cabinet. He said that the increased risk of a full-scale war with Azerbaijan is forcing the government to “review” its policies.

                  “Are we developing?” Abrahamian told ministers. “Are we combatting corruption? Do we have a strong army? The answer is yes. But is that enough for us to confront the new challenges? I think I will express everyone’s view if I say no, it’s not.”

                  “We must redouble, multiply our efforts to become a more efficient state,” he said. To that end, the government will downsize many of its agencies through staff cuts and thus be able to spend more on the country’s more urgent needs, he said, hinting at defense and national security.

                  Abrahamian went on to promise a tougher fight against corruption which he said will be evaluated by ordinary Armenians’ perception of the scale of the chronic problem. The government, he said, will target widespread conflicts of interest among Armenian officials.

                  “We need to very quickly introduce tough mechanisms that would preclude the participation of individuals holding public posts and their relatives in state procurements,” declared the premier.

                  Armenia’s problematic business environment will be another focus of reforms promised by Abrahamian. The government, he said, will specifically make tax administration less arbitrary and investigate de facto monopolies.

                  “I admit that the government has not been consistent enough in getting to the bottom of this problem and not initiated an open public dialogue in a timely manner,” he added. “It’s time to rectify this shortcoming.”

                  Abrahamian told the Ministry of Economy and state anti-trust regulators to “analyze” within the next three weeks the monopolies’ impact on economic competition in Armenia.

                  “The key challenge is to ensure that all markets are open [to any entrepreneur,]” Economy Minister Artsvik Minasian told reporters after the cabinet meeting. He suggested that the regulators could be given more legal powers for that purpose.

                  As recently as in February, Minasian’s predecessor Karen Chshmaritian declared that the authorities in Yerevan are not seeking to eliminate the monopolies because their existence is inevitable in a country like Armenia.

                  Some lucrative forms of business in Armenia, notably imports of fuel and foodstuffs, have long been controlled by large companies belonging to government-linked individuals. Local and foreign economists say the resulting lack of competition in those sectors hampers faster economic growth.

                  Abrahamian as well as President Serzh Sarkisian have repeatedly pledged to tackle corruption and create a level playing field for all businesses in the past. Armenian businesspeople, economists and civil society members have reported no fundamental improvements in those areas so far.

                  Sarkisian has been facing growing calls for sweeping political and economic reforms since the April 2 escalation of the Karabakh conflict that nearly led to a full-scale war with Azerbaijan. Many think that Armenia needs such changes in order to be able to counter further Azerbaijani attempts to end the conflict militarily.

                  Comment


                  • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                    Armenia to open its own pavilion in Moscow’s Food City Center

                    YEREVAN, May 16. /ARKA/. Armenia’s commodity producers will expose
                    their products in one of those pavilions at Moscow’s Food City Center
                    intended for Eurasian Economic Union’s member countries, the Eurasian
                    Business Union of the Eurasian Economic Zone Entrepreneurs told ARKA
                    News Agency.

                    According to the press release, the Foods City Center has embarked on
                    arrangement of merchant rows, which are specially designed for
                    products from the Eurasian Economic Union member countries.

                    The ceremony of ‘Armenia’ platform opening will be held on May 28 as
                    part of the annual EXPO.

                    Exporters from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia
                    will enjoy an opportunity to expose their products here directly,
                    without any mediator.

                    This is a joint project which is being implemented by the Eurasian
                    Business Union jointly with the Eurasian Economic Union countries.

                    The key aim of the Eurasian Business Union is to support small and
                    mid-scale businesses, agricultural farms and industrial companies as
                    well as to promote cooperation among commodity producers in the
                    Eurasian Economic Union territory and to form a clear commodity
                    distribution system among entities and the union member countries.

                    This 88-hectares Food City is Russia’s first agriculture cluster and
                    the biggest food wholesale center in Russia and in Europe.

                    The full range of services, including logistics, transport,
                    merchandizing and navigation are provided here. --0----

                    https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2...s0Xnqq3sUUQ&e=
                    Hayastan or Bust.

                    Comment


                    • Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                      Economist: Armenia does not need diaspora, sport and youth affairs,
                      and economy ministries

                      14:57, 16.05.2016

                      YEREVAN. – Armenia needs to reduce the number of ministries,
                      opposition Armenian National Congress member, economist Vahagn
                      Khachatryan, who is former mayor of capital city Yerevan, said at a
                      press conference on Monday.

                      Reflecting on ineffective budget expenditures, he stressed that the
                      country does not need the Diaspora, Sport and Youth Affairs, and
                      Economy Ministries.

                      “We don’t need the Ministry of Economy in its current form,”
                      Khachatryan stated. “The Ministry of Diaspora may enter into the
                      Ministry of Foreign Affairs while the Ministry of Sport and Youth
                      Affairs—[into] the Ministry of Culture. But I believe that the
                      Ministry of Education and Science should be separated.”

                      Vahagn Khachatryan added that Armenia needs a very strong Ministry of
                      Nature Protection.

                      Several days ago, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan stated that the
                      state apparatus of Armenia needs to be downsized, and the resultant
                      funds shall be used for increasing the defense capability of the
                      country.

                      https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2...uSmg_sidqjM&e=
                      Hayastan or Bust.

                      Comment

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