Ashot Shahnazarian: Armenia Has Been Striving For Free Trade Agreeme


Noyan Tapan
Feb 19, 2009

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 19, NOYAN TAPAN. During the February 19 meeting
with the European Commission’s fact-finding group, the Chairman of
the RA State Commission for Protection of Economic Competition Ashot
Shahnazarian stated that "Armenia has been striving for a free trade
agreement for a long time".

A free trade agreement envisages entrance of Armenian goods into
markets of EU member states without customs duties (and vice versa),
which is of vital importance for export promotion and the growth of
investments. At the same time, ensuring free economic competition is
one of the most important conditions for free trade.

At the request of the group’s members, A. Shahnazarian spoke about
the challenges existing the field of competition. First, there are
legislative shortcomings, due to which the opinions of the Commission’s
experts may become a subject of double comment or discussion by other
state bodies.

Secondly, there are disparities in penalties envisaged by the laws
on competitive and administrative offences: the first one envisages a
concrete penalty for a concrete violation in order to avoid corruption
risks, while the other one uses the principle of proportionality when
the penalty should fit the offence. Some corruption risks arise here,
and a society, all bodies of which comprehend unambiguously the
essence of the law of competition, is necessary. According to the
Commisison’s head, such problems also exist in the financial market
and issues related to state assistance.

A. Shahnazarian pointed out that the Commission jointly with the
Armenian government implements programs that will ensure Armenia’s
real integration with the EU in legislative and economic spheres
under the European Neighborhood Policy.

As regards the conditions of a free trade agreement, the members of
the fact-finding group underlined the important role of the body for
protection of competition as well as the necessity of EU’s assistance
for solution of the problems raised by the Commission.

According to the press service of the State Commission for Protection
of Economic Competition, the fact-finding group is expected to
present a report on Armenia’s progress to the RA government in late
April. Issues of economic competition will also be addressed in
the report.

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