Businessmen to Reduce Exports and Demand Government’s Support
As Russian ruble plunged, Armenian agricultural product exporters have had to face a series of problems. To mitigate the damage a group of exporters have proposed to Armenia's government to revise the terms of the loan repayment and provide financial assistance to farmers who supply raw materials for businessmen. The Government is ready to discuss possible assistance options and recommends businessmen to diversify the export markets.

The Media Center held a discussion entitled “Situation on the Product Market: Impact of Ruble-Dram Fluctuations.” The speakers included: Gagik Makaryan, Chairman of the Republican Union of Employers of Armenia; Vazgen Safaryan, Head of the Union of Native Producers of Armenia; Avik Gasparyan, Deputy Director of Proshyan Brandy Company; Vilen Khachatryan, economist; Gagik Kocharyan, Head of Department of Trade and Markets Regulation, Ministry of Economy; and Armen Yeganyan, Head of SME Development Department, Economy Ministry.

Avik Gasparyan numbered the losses businessmen had to suffer: “Our company, in particular, has recently suffered great losses exceeding 500 million drams since the volume of exports to Russia is large.” The company, Gasparyan added, is determined to stay on the Russian market as it took them great efforts and financial investments to get their position stable there.

The businessmen do not seek neither expect financial support from the Government. “We understand the country has limited possibilities. Now what we need is to revise the timeframes for dollar loan repayment. The Government may provide financial support to farmers to avoid problems when agricultural product is supplied to manufacturers,” said Gasparyan.

A businessman, present at the discussion, suggested compiling a list of affected enterprises and providing them a differentiated support because "the amount of damages and problems are different."

Gagik Makaryan told the journalists Armenian entrepreneurs saw first losses last December when Russian ruble plunged. “Refusing to export is too big a risk as ready products remain in warehouses while businesses cannot recover their financial resources to sustain their business activities if there are no sales,” Makaryan said. Armenian businessmen have small money stock from the sales on the Russian market because ruble has declined and inflation is restrained through artificial means, the speaker believes.

A series of meetings, he said, have been held with two dozen small and medium entrepreneurs, they presented their damage calculations and it is already clear that 20 companies have suffered losses of 7.8 million dollars. "These are fresh food, canned food, wine and brandy exporting companies," he added.

Vazgen Sargsyan is optimistic and believes the appreciation of Russian ruble is underway while “in Europe people are more inclined to the idea that new sanctions should not be imposed on Russia. There is hope that the situation will have stabilized by summer.”

Armen Yeganyan – who said the Government is willing to discuss support options - advised businessmen to work on the diversification of export markets. “To avoid such risks, however, companies must work to improve the quality of their products, as well as diversify products and markets.”

“As of March 20, according to the National Statistical Service, Armenia's foreign trade decreased by 27.7%, exports decreased by 25.2% and imports - 28.6%. We have seen decline of imports and exports by one quarter. This is one of the most negative phenomena,” he said, adding dollar credit losses incurred will be refunded if with the help of the Government, "transition to dram loans" will be made.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator

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