WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), following up on President Obama’s campaign pledge to “help foster Armenia’s growth and development through expanded trade,” has called upon the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Ron Kirk, to enter into formal discussions with the Republic of Armenia regarding the negotiation of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
In a letter sent to Ambassador Kirk, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian noted that the establishment of a U.S.-Armenia TIFA would broaden existing avenues of dialogue and “provide a consistent platform for our government to meet and consult on a regular basis with Armenian government officials regarding broadening our economic cooperation and expanding opportunities for trade and investment.” A memo regarding the issue along with a copy of the letter was sent to Congressional offices earlier today and can be viewed here.
TIFAs, which the U.S. has negotiated with over 50 other countries and regional economic groups, including Georgia and Ukraine, provide strategic frameworks and principles for ongoing government-to-government dialogue on trade and investment issues. The prospect of putting in place such an agreement has been on the agenda of past meetings of the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force, but no specific action has yet been taken to translate these discussions into reality. Similarly, despite bilateral talks dating back more than a decade, no material action has been taken to negotiate a much-needed U.S.-Armenia tax treaty.
Detailed information about TIFAs is available on the USTR website.
“After a year and a half in office, despite the President’s campaign pledges and, very notably, the considerable support of Armenia for a broad range of his Administration’s policies – including, of course, the profoundly flawed Turkey-Armenia Protocols – we have yet to see any practical steps by the White House to strengthen our commercial relationship with Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Timely and decisive action to put in place a TIFA would represent a concrete expression of the President’s commitment and a meaningful contribution to our bilateral trade and investment relationship with Armenia.”
Concerned citizens can support the call for a U.S.-Armenia TIFA by sending a free ANCA WebFax to their members of Congress. The letters, which are automatically addressed to the individual Senators and Representative of each activist, cite President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge that his Administration would “help foster Armenia’s growth and development through expanded trade and targeted aid, and by strengthening the commercial, political, military, developmental, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and Armenian governments.” The ANCA’s TIFA action alert and the full text of this letter are available here.
The full text of the ANCA letter to the USTR is provided below.
June 11, 2010
The Honorable Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20508
Dear Ambassador Kirk:
I am writing to urge you, in the interest of fueling U.S. economic growth and strengthening our nation’s bond with the Armenian people, to enter into formal discussions with the Republic of Armenia regarding the negotiation of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
The establishment of such an agreement would, as you know, build upon our current dialogue with Armenia. This discourse takes place today, in large measure, within the context of the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force. This agreement would provide a much needed, broader and more consistent platform for our government to meet and consult on a regular basis with Armenian government officials regarding broadening our economic cooperation and expanding opportunities for trade and investment.
Armenia, as you know, has received Permanent Normal Trade Relations status and is a member in good standing of the World Trade Organization. Armenia’s exceptional progress in establishing a modern, market-oriented economy, in the face of illegal blockades by both Turkey and Azerbaijan, has been consistently praised by the Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom, which rates Armenia as among the freest economies among the states of the former Soviet Union.
Armenia is a partner with the United States in seeking regional peace, including through its full engagement in ongoing talks, mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to resolve the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. The Armenian government sent troops to Iraq as part of our Coalition operations, deployed forces to Kosovo as part of the NATO peacekeeping efforts, and a contingent of Armenian forces have been deployed to Afghanistan in support of our military mission in that nation.
President Barack Obama, during his campaign for office, pledged that his Administration would “help foster Armenia’s growth and development through expanded trade and targeted aid, and by strengthening the commercial, political, military, developmental, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and Armenian governments.” The establishment of a TIFA would represent a concrete expression of the President’s commitment and a meaningful contribution to the trade and investment relationship between these two friendly nations.
I want to thank you for your consideration of our request and would very much appreciate your leadership in initiating discussions toward a U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Agreement. As always, we stand ready to meet with you at your convenience and to assist you in all your efforts to broaden the U.S.-Armenia partnership and strengthen the enduring bonds between the American and Armenian peoples.