Armenia experts defends Yerevan’s initialing of association agreement with EU
YEREVAN, August 22. / ARKA /. Head of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute defended today Armenia’s anticipated initialing of the Association Agreement with the EU and the stemming Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement (DCFTA), saying they will have a positive impact on Armenia’s economy.
Armenia and several other former Soviet republics are supposed to initial the agreements in November at an EU’s Eastern Partnership summit scheduled to take place in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Speaking at a news conference Iskandaryan said the initialing of the agreements is just a step on Armenia’s path to European integration, and therefore no fundamental and immediate changes in the national economy should be expected.
The EU began negotiating an Association Agreement with Armenia in July 2010. The aim was to replace the old Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with a more advanced relationship. The negotiations on the trade part of this agreement – the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) – were launched in May 2012. After seven rounds of negotiations, final agreement was reached on 24 July 2013.
Armenia already benefits from preferential access to the EU market through the EU Generalized System of Preferences with additional incentives for sustainable development and good governance ("GSP+"). This means that existing import duties are already very low, so the benefits of the DCFTA, although they also include tariff reductions, will lie predominantly behind the border. Regulatory reform will focus on areas such as sanitary and phytosanitary issues, aiming to bring food safety standards in Armenia up to a par with those in the EU. Armenia will also adapt various laws relating to industrial goods, with an emphasis on domestic safety and consumer protection.
According to the EU, the agreements will allow Armenia to receive an additional annual income of 146 million euros, almost 2.3% of its GDP. Armenia's exports may grow by 15.2% and imports by 8.2%. The agreement will enable Armenia to diversify its exports at favorable terms. -0-