- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
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 September 26, 2003 

Potential on Display: Exhibition courts outside interests in Armenian business

The exhibition showed Armenia's healthy investment environment..

About 250 businessmen, including 150 Diaspora Armenians from 26 countries (Russia, USA, Syria, Canada, Australia and others) met this week in a three-day ""Panarmenian Expo-2003".

The goal of the Armenia-Diaspora Congress expo was to present Armenia to Diaspora businessmen as a favorable and healthy investment environment.

Within the framework of the expo 150 companies from Armenia and Karabakh made presentations at the Karen Demirchyan Sport and Concert Complex, promoting production of such items as construction material, food, light industry, high technologies, cigarettes and confectionery.

"The goal of this Congress was to demonstrate to Diaspora businessmen that Armenia 2003 is not Armenia 1993," executive director of the Armenian Development Agency Vahagn Movsisyan said. "Significant changes have taken place in the country and these days business of Armenia is competitive in different international markets."

According to Movsisyan, today the economic potential of Diaspora is presented in Armenia only by three to five percent, meanwhile the economic environment of the country gives opportunities for realizing much more investment programs.

The first Armenia-Diaspora Congress took place in 1999 and the second one was in 2002. At the time of the work on economic issues during the second Congress and after emphasizing the necessity of economic cooperation between Armenia and Diaspora it was decided to carry out the latest Congress.

"The businessmen, who are really interested in making business in Armenia, responded to the announcement," says Minister of Trade and Economic Development Karen Tchshmarityan.

At the first day of the Congress leaders of Armenia and Karabakh came to welcome participants.

President Robert Kocharyan particularly mentioned in his greeting speech that the days are gone when people were sure that it was possible to sustain Armenia only with production of Jermuk mineral water.

Food and drink were among products featured..

"Today it becomes clear that we can't keep the country with Jermuk," said the President. "We must make right decisions on what we want and what resources we have in reality."

According to the President, educated and inventive people are the main wealth of Armenia.

The President also encouraged Diaspora businessmen to become "co-partners" with Armenia, and consider it a sound investment and not just a matter of patriotic duty to do business here.

Businessman Hagop Loussararian, from Beirut, has been cooperating for several months with two companies in Armenia presenting "Arzni" mineral water and "Cigaron" cigarettes in the Middle East and Lebanon.

"Being a businessman for me there is no difference what country I'm importing goods from," says 30 year old Loussararian, "however, being Armenian my patriotism makes me get profits in Armenia by making investments."

According to him, Armenian products can be of great popularity and success in other countries in case of proper marketing.

"It is a little bit hard to establish relations with Armenian businessmen as Armenia is a new country in the field of business and hasn't got a rich experience of importing."

Loussararian said that through the Congress he got acquainted with another Armenian company, with which he is going to start an affiliation next month.

American businessman Hovsep Seferyan says laws in Armenia must change to make it easier for outside investment.

During three-day discussions there were both complaints and praises expressed by Diaspora businessmen, however, all of them mentioned that Armenia is an attractive country for making business.

Step right up to invest . . .

Many were interested in the goods presented by Karabakh, such as preserves, honey, herbal teas, natural stones, wooden production, handmade works and alcohol drinks. They attracted visitors with their quality and packaging.

Chief manager of "Artsakh-Alco" company assures that many visitors were sure that alcohol drinks of the company had been produced in Armenia and not in Karabakh.

"Participation of Karabakh at the exhibition was very important because we wanted our guests from abroad to be sure that Karabakh is a country that creates good things with the help of peaceful work," he said.

At the last day businessmen nailed down the results of the Economic Congress in a document on which the International Armenian Trade Network will be founded. According to the decree, the Economic Congresses will be organized every third year and exhibitions will be organized every year in Armenia or in the world countries with the biggest Armenian Diaspora.

According to Agnes
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