Energy, agriculture, hotel business: UAE interested in making investments in Armenia
YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 14, ARMENPRESS. 85% increase in exports from Armenia to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been recorded in the 9 months of 2017 compared to the same period of 2016, Hovhannes Azizyan – deputy minister of economic development and investments, told ARMENPRESS presenting the cooperation trends with the Arab countries.
-Mr. Azizyan, in the recent period Armenia carries out an active policy aimed at boosting the cooperation with the Arab countries. There have been high-level visits to the UAE, Qatar. At the moment what kind of results can we talk about?
-First of all, I want to say what is important for us in the Arab market. If we look at global trends, the economic downturns in general, we see that the Arab world is quite stable in terms of revenues. The United Arab Emirates is quite an interesting country. It is considered as a platform to enter other countries. In other words, it is a state with great logistics opportunities and development conditions. In addition to the UAE, Iraq is also important for us that has a major opportunity for development and exports. For us Lebanon, Syria, Qatar are also interesting. One of our major goals is the diversification of markets. We aim at targeting markets so that we will be able to export goods and bring investments from markets. Today there are markets which make investments in different countries. For them the Eurasian region is quite interesting. We need to intensify our works so that these markets will consider Armenia as an investment country.
-What are the volumes of export and import with the UAE? What figures can you present?
-According to the data of the 9 months of this year, we have 85% increase in exports to the UAE compared to the same period of the previous year. I want to state that the dynamic development of our exports was registered in the second half of the previous year. I connect this with bilateral political, executive-level visits, the investment forum held in early 2017. I think all these factors affected it. There is also another key factor: we have always had a negative balance of trade with the Emirates, but today we see that we have approached the figures. The import comprises 70 million dollars, and the export is 68 million dollars. In other words, we export as much as we import. I want to note that we have a great potential for export in the agriculture sphere. In the 9 months of this year the export of agricultural products has increased by 6-7 times. We also see a potential in meat export. We mainly export tobacco, jewelry, diamonds to the UAE. At this stage we see 4 main directions where we can ensure development.
-You talked about the investment forum, is there a progress on this path? There were rumors that the UAE business is interested in making investments in energy and hotel business field.
-Of course, the renewable energy is one of the main directions the UAE business is interested in. A respective memorandum of understanding was signed in the field of wind energy. At the moment relevant studies are underway. We hope there will be an investment flow here. The next direction is agriculture. Already two companies started actively planting orchards here. We also have joint companies which are engaged in agricultural products processing and export. The next investment direction is the hotel business. We propose the investors to create hotel services here for their tourists. Several proposals were made on this path, and they are now being discussed. We believe that Jermuk town can also be of their interest. There is a chance to construct an airport here and operate flights from the UAE to Aremnia. The next project is the export of mineral water.
-Let’s talk about the tourism field. What are the prospects on this path?
-Here we have started actively working and presenting Armenia’s tourism opportunities to the UAE market. Events are expected to be held in the UAE in near future during which we will present our tourism opportunities. Activities will be carried out with the local tour operators. There is already an agreement on this issue with the respective structure. I want to state that they are first of all interested in Armenia’s nature. They arrive in a country which has a very beautiful nature in line with all seasons of the year. At the moment we are preparing tour packages for presenting them in near future. The emphasis will also be put on winter, cuisine tourism. I think the high-level visits will continue in the future, the constant visits at political level are additional impetus for the business.
Interview by Anna Gziryan