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Armenia to diversify exports and advance towards knowledge economy with help of UNECE recommendations

The Armenian economy is undergoing significant structural changes. Services are playing an increasingly important role, rising from around 46 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2012 to around 53 per cent in 2018, driven by information and communication technology (ICT), tourism and healthcare. The industrial sector has also continued to grow, increasing its share in GDP from around 16 percent to 18 per cent during same period. This has been accompanied by a decline in the share from agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing, as well as a move away from dependence on the construction sector – which accounted for 10 per cent of GDP in 2017, compared to around 25 per cent in 2006.

As the government seeks to drive this transformation towards increased specialization in high value-added activities, building on strong growth over the last decade in the country’s trade sector has been identified as a particular priority. The country is taking steps to address challenges linked to high trade deficit (which stood at 16 per cent of GDP in 2017), resource intensive exports (dominated by metals – copper ores and concentrates alone accounted for 28.5 per cent of total exports in 2017 –, mineral products, precious stones, and non-metal products) and a limited range of trading partners. This is especially important in the context of Armenia’s regional integration efforts, as exemplified by its partnership agreement with the EU, provisionally applied since 2018.

The Government of Armenia will use UNECE recommendations to remove regulatory and procedural barriers to trade in goods as part of its efforts to diversify exports and achieve structural transformation towards a knowledge-based economy. 

The recommendations were developed in consultation with the Government drawing on the findings of a UNECE assessment study, whose results were presented today in Geneva.

The study features a special focus on female-owned enterprises (out of the 91 interviewed enterprises, 30 were female-owned), with a view to gaining a better understanding of the specific challenges to increasing their participation in international trade. The study also aims to support the government’s efforts to develop the productive capacity of labour-intensive light industries and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In 2015, MSMEs accounted for 99.7 per cent of all registered enterprises in the country.

The recommendations build on reform achievements to date, including: a high level of trade transparency through online publication of up-to-date information on trade related regulations and administrative procedures; an efficient home-grown ICT system for issuing customs declarations and trade permits electronically; a well-established integrated border management system for facilitating customs clearance; the effective eradication of informal payments; and the successful support services provided to female entrepreneurs to assist their market entry and engagement in export activities.   

The recommendations are geared to generating efficiency gains throughout the supply chain and supporting enterprise development. They involve practical, action-oriented measures that address the country’s immediate and long-term capacity needs drawing on international best practices and UNECE recommendations, norms, standards and guidelines in the areas of trade facilitation, transport and regulatory cooperation as well as successful experiences in enterprise development.   

The recommendations are geared to support the country’s efforts to:
  • Complete the transition towards a paperless trading system
  • Achieve successful implementation of its commitments under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • Develop the national quality assurance system, particularly by ensuring international recognition of conformity assessment results issued by Armenian bodies
  • Further develop the national system of metrology
  • Develop the manufacturing enterprises’ technological capability, understood as the accumulated knowledge and skills to identify, appraise, utilise and improve on existing technologies and production techniques or develop new ones to modernize production processes and venture into new innovative production activities. 

By generating supply chain efficiencies and supporting enterprise development, the recommendations will help drive progress on multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goal 7 on affordable and clean energy, Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and Goal 17 on partnerships. The recommendations will also contribute to SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure).

UNECE will be assisting the Government’s implementation of the recommendations in collaboration with development partners and working closely with the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Armenia. The findings and recommendations emerging from the study will also be reflected in the UN Development Cooperation Framework, which seeks to support the country in addressing key SDG priorities and gaps.

An advance copy of the study is available at:
For more information, please visit:
Note to editors

UNECE studies on regulatory and procedural barriers to trade are conducted upon the request of member States. The study on Armenia was conducted over the period 2018-2019.

These studies have been carried out in Albania, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova and Tajikistan. 

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