YEREVAN, November 1. / ARKA /. Armenia’s National Center for Small and Medium Enterprises and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed on Thursday in Yerevan a memorandum of cooperation in the framework of the three-year program called ‘One Village, One Product’ (OVOP)).
The executive director of Armenia’s National Center for Small and Medium Enterprises, Varazdat Karapetyan, told reporters the program is designed to help shape local brands and stimulate domestic production through the technical support from the Japanese government.
“This program is built on a series of successful business projects this year, including 15 enterprises for processing of dried fruits in the Tavush region. We provided finance and help obtain equipment and technology and now we are working to find accessible market for them”, Karapetyan said.
According to him, the Japanese side has investigated the successful experience of SMEs, after which the parties agreed to jointly launch the program.
“The program will help Armenian farmers to process and sell their products. It will kick of next April in five provinces which we will choose later,” he said, adding that it will create new jobs in rural areas.
Yukihiko Ejhiri, a representative of JICA, said a special group of Japanese experts was in Armenia in September to explore possible ways of cooperation.
“The main actor of the program will be Armenia; JICA will actively support the Armenian side in achieving its goals,” he said, expressing hope that the program will contribute to the development of Armenian rural industry.
He said in the next three years, Armenia and Japan will hold regular meetings to discuss topical issues related to the status of the program’s implementation.
“The next three years will be a challenge for both the Armenian and Japanese parties. We want to achieve good results and to show all that we are on the right track,” Ejiri said.
Trade between Armenia and Japan increased 60.3% to 78.4 billion drams in January-September 2012. It makes up only about 2 percent of Armenia’s overall foreign trade Armenian exports to Japan amounted to 642,500 drams, a decrease of 61% compared to the same period last year. ($ 1- 405.52 drams) . -0-