World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/91

    12 December 1996




Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by Mr. Vahram Avanesyan

Minister of Economy

(Speaking as an Observer)

    It is a great honour for our delegation to introduce Armenia as an observer at the First Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization.

    This Conference is particularly important for Armenia at this period when the country is implementing fundamental reforms aimed at transition to a free market economy. Participation of Armenia at this most important international forum means recognition of the fact that fast and effective integration into the world economy is one of the essential preconditions of economic growth and prosperity.

    The economic reforms that take place in our country demonstrate that the Government of Armenia not only realizes the importance of integration into the world economy, but also takes practical strategic steps in that direction.

    Armenia has already finalized the privatization of the agricultural land, and also about 70 per cent of small enterprises and more than 60 per cent of medium- and large-scale enterprises have been privatized. Since 1992 the liberalization of prices and trade has been under way and now the current trade regime can be considered among the most liberal ones. The weighted average of the applied customs tariff rates, for both industrial and agricultural products, is below 4 per cent. In 1996 the expected annual inflation rate will amount to 7-8 per cent and the estimated budget deficit will be 7.5 per cent. At the same time the Gross Domestic Product will increase at about 6 per cent.

    Parallel to the above developments, the institutional, structural and sectoral policy contributes to the emergence of infrastructure and economic entities characteristic of market economy, and formulation of the legal framework establishes the basis and scope of their activities.

    The economic reforms are aimed at the formation of the private sector and at the creation of all enabling conditions for entrepreneurship in Armenia. Thanks to such a policy, Armenia is in a position to anticipate foreign investment that is the only prerequisite for full utilization of the country's resources, as well as for real and sustainable economic development.

    Armenia considers its membership in the World Trade Organization as one of the crucial steps in attaining this strategic goal.

    The scope and the magnitude of economic reform in our country, as well as the support of the WTO Member countries in our endeavours allow us to hope that already in the nearest future Armenia will be able to complete the accession process and will become a full Member of the WTO.

    By becoming a WTO Member country, Armenia will make its modest contribution to the process of liberalization of the world economy and will be one of the most earnest champions of this liberalization, since this is where we see the precondition of economic prosperity of our country.

    In concluding, let me take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the Government of Singapore and to all organizers of the Conference for arranging such a responsible and representative forum at such a high level, and let me express hope that the decisions taken at the Conference will be another step in attainment of the global goals of the WTO.