Armenia transport isolation thwarts trade with RF – minister

Armenia transport isolation thwarts trade with RF – minister

ITAR-TASS News Agency  
October 13, 2004 Wednesday

YEREVAN — Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin said Armenia’s
transport isolation thwarts trade with Russia.

Levitin, who is Russian co-chairman of the inter-governmental
commission on economic cooperation, said this problem is in the focus
of sessions of the inter-governmental commission.

Among major problems, the Russian minister named the unsatisfied
development of the transport infrastructure, which requires additional
finances, and Georgia’s unconstructive position on opening through
railway traffic between Russia and Armenia.

Levitin said, “There are obstacles to carry out the project on
organising direct ferry traffic via Poti. The solution of the transport
problem in the Caucasus should be subject of the whole region.”

Armenia ranks third among CIS countries in investments in Russia’s
economy, he said.

Speaking at an international economic forum, the minister said,
“At present, the improvement of trade structure and the expansion
of investment cooperation is one of priority tasks.” The forum was
organised by the World Armenian Congress and the Union of Armenians
of Russia.

He recalled, “Russia invested in different fields of Armenia’s economy,
primarily in the productive and banking sectors of the economy.”

Last year Russia’s investment in Armenia’s economy reached 68 million
U.S. dollars. From 1988 to 2003 Russia’s direct investment in Armenia
exceeded 230 million U.S. dollars.

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said Russia is ready to take an active
part in investment programmes and the implementation of economic
projects in Armenia.

The prime minister’s message was read by Russian Transport Minister
Igor Levitin.

Fradkov said he is hopeful that this forum would become a catalyst
for the development of trade and economic ties between Armenia and
Russia and other countries.

He noted that the Armenian community in Russia played a significant
role in launching mutually advantageous ties in various spheres
between the two countries.

Levitin said the development of inter-regional relations between the
two countries was an important reserve of bilateral relations.

Commenting on Armenia’s state debt to Russia, the minister said the two
countries had found a solution to this problem last year. The handover
of companies as payment of the state debt creates preconditions for
boosting trade and economic interaction between the two states.

Russian-Armenian trade and economic cooperation is developed in
accordance with the principle of equality, while meeting each party’s
national interests and to their mutual advantage, the minister said.

Levitin noted positive examples of cooperation, including such joint
ventures as Armenal, in which the Russian Aluminium Company invested
more than 40 million dollars, the Armavia airline, in which Russia’s
Sibir holds a 70-percent sake and the Orbita plant, which is wholly
owned by Rosaviaspetskomplex.

“We have cooperation plans in the fields of power generation,
including nuclear power generation, and information technologies
where resources and experience of Russian communication operators
on Armenia’s market will be used, as well as in the sphere of space
exploration and science,” the minister said.

He said Russia’s commercial banks begin to display interest in
servicing Russian companies, which operate in Armenia, and setting
up new joint ventures.