WASHINGTON, DC – Following years of Armenian American advocacy and U.S.-Armenia diplomacy, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Assistant US Trade Representative Daniel Mullaney today signed the U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), a bilateral accord long sought by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia, and Armenia-based U.S. businesses to expand economic relations between the two countries.
This agreement establishes a United States-Armenia Council on Trade and Investment to discuss bilateral trade and investment and related issues and examine ways to strengthen the trade and investment relationship between the two countries.
Following the official signing of the agreement, Mullaney told reporters “Today’s agreement provides a vehicle for deepening and broadening U.S.-Armenia trade and investment relations. I look forward to the United States-Armenia Council on Trade and Investment helping to unlock opportunities for workers, farmers, service providers, manufacturers and consumers in our two countries.”
During a meeting with Mullaney immediately after the signing of the accord, Armenian President Serzh Sargisyan noted that he was confident that the impending $250 million investment by Contour Global in Armenia’s energy sector would be the largest U.S. investment in Armenia to date, and will set an example for broader trade opportunities in the future.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian welcomed the accord, noting “Today’s signing of the TIFA represents a major step forward in U.S.-Armenia economic relations – the creation of jobs, the fostering of hope, the creation of opportunities in both countries. At a broader level, it is a stepping stone to even greater cooperation. We would like to see, for example, the U.S. and Armenia begin negotiating a Tax Treaty. Double taxation on U.S. and Armenia firms is a hindrance to the growth of economic relations, a deterrent to potential investors from either side, and needs to be removed.”
The ANCA has launched an online advocacy campaign to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, urging him to begin preparations for an U.S-Armenia Tax Treaty and alerting Members of Congress about the benefits of such an accord.
In a letter sent this week to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman calling urging the TIFA signing, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian outlined ten practical benefits of putting in place this government-to-government platform for dialogue about the growth of bilateral trade and investment. These benefits include:
— Improving the investment climate, identifying priority growth areas and building trade capacity
— Addressing regional trade issues, including the special hardships faced by Armenia due to the blockades imposed on its borders by Turkey and Azerbaijan
— Streamlining customs systems, and increasing the transparency of governmental processes related to imports and exports
— Discussing the effectiveness of current programs in Armenia of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and U.S. Trade and Development Agency
— Expanding agricultural trade and investment
— Growing the level of trade in services, including banking, insurance, and tourism
— Promoting Diasporan trade and investment, with a special focus on expanding Armenian American trade and investment partnerships with Armenia
— Improving Armenia ’s use of U.S. Generalized System of Preferences benefits
— Addressing any outstanding problems in the area of intellectual property rights
— Exploring ways to deepen future U.S.-Armenia trade and investment