Armenian gov’t plans to stimulate domestic manufacturing, ban Turkish imports

By Asbarez | Friday, 15 July 2016

Workers at a textile factory in Gyumri, Armenia. (Photo: Photolur)

Workers at a textile factory in Gyumri, Armenia. (Photo: Photolur)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia’s government plans to ban imports of some Turkish goods as part of broader protectionist measures designed to boost domestic manufacturers, Economy Minister Artsvik Minasian announced on Friday.

Minasian said that the ban will initially apply to around 50 of 700 types of Turkish-made products imported to Armenia. Its imposition will mark the “first stage” of a government effort to stimulate the domestic manufacturing sector and thereby create more jobs in the country, he told reporters.

Outlining further protectionist measures planned by the government, Minasian said “If a particular product imported from any country hurts local manufacturers, drives them out of business, or limits the possibility of producing it here, we will use legitimate non-tariff methods [against its imports].”

The minister, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), did not specify what concrete form those non-tariff barriers will take. The government has announced no decisions to that effect yet.

Landlocked Armenia has long had a liberal trade regime with the outside world. It remains to be seen whether the trade protectionism heralded by Minasian will fall foul of its membership commitments to the Eurasian Economic Union or the World Trade Organization.

Minasian, whose party favors a hard line on Turkey, called for a full or partial ban on Turkish imports shortly after he was appointed as economy minister in March as a result of Dashnaktsutyun’s power-sharing deal with President Serzh Sarkisian.

According to Armenian government statistics, Armenia imported about $50 million worth of Turkish goods in the first five months of this year. With the Turkish-Armenian border closed since the early 1990s, the bulk of them reached the country via Georgia.

As part of its economic embargo imposed on Armenia out of solidarity with Azerbaijan, Turkey has also banned imports of all Armenian products.

Overall, imports of goods and commodities to Armenian stood $1.2 billion in January-May 2016. By comparison, Armenian exports totaled $657 million in that period.