November 25, 2010

The Prime Minister of Armenia Urges to Improve Business Environment in Armenia after the Publication of "Doing Business 2011" Report

Shortly after the publication of "Doing Business 2011" report (the details of which were presented in the previous posting of this blog) the Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan organized a consultative meeting on business environment improvement in Armenia. The Prime Minister stated that all respective agencies were ordered to take the necessary steps for improving all ranks of Armenia in Doing Business report, published annually by World Bank.

According to the Prime Minister, one of the reasons why Armenia has not improved its positions compared to the previous year is the slow speed of reforms in Armenia. The main problem is the tax administration in Armenia (country's worst rank in the latest report, 159 among 183 countries).

During the meeting Deputy Minister of Economy Karine Minasyan has presented a plan for the improvement of business environment in the country. The Prime Minister has ordered to create working groups and within 10 days to present suggestions on how to radically improve the business environment in the republic.

The first response on the government level to the results of "Doing Business 2011" report is already in action. Hopefully the necessary measures will be taken for improving business opportunities in Armenia and in "Doing Business 2012" report Armenia will have substantially improved its position.

November 22, 2010

Doing Business in South Caucasus: Armenia and Azerbaijan are far behind Georgia

Recently World Bank published the ranks of 183 economies of business regulations and their enforcement in its "Doing Business 2011" report.

According to the report, doing business is easiest in OECD countries.

Among the 183 economies Kazakhstan was the pioneer in improving the business regulation. Among other successful countries, according to this report, were Tajikistan, Hungary, Rwanda, Cape Verde, Zambia, Peru, Vietnam, Grenada, and Brunei Darussalam. Singapore remains the leader among the countries with the ease of doing business and Chad is closing the list, with the rank 183.

Alas, the countries of the South Caucasus are not among the pioneers of improving the environment for doing business on their territories. Particularly, Armenia has deteriorated its positions in all observed ranks, with exception of trading across borders: here Armenia has improved its position with 21 points compared to the previous year. Overall, Armenia's rank is 48 compared to that of 44 in the previous year. Armenia's best rank is 5 in registering property (compared to 4 in Doing Business 2010 report) and the worst rank is 159 in paying taxes, with no change compared to the previous year's rank.

Azerbaijan has some improvements, particularly, it slightly improved its ranks in starting a business, paying taxes and trading across borders. As a result, Azerbaijan's rank is 54 compared to 55 in the previous year. Azerbaijan's best rank is 15 in registering property and the worst rank is 177 in trading across borders (only Tajikistan, Iraq, Congo, Kazakhstan, Central African Republic, and Afghanistan have worse ranks in this regard).

The most successful among South Caucasus countries is Georgia, with slight improvement compared to the previous year (12th rank instead of 13th). Georgia has substantially improved its ranks in getting credit and protecting investors with 15 and 21 points respectively. Georgia's best rank in this latest report is the rank 2 in registering property (standing behind only Saudi Arabia) and its worst rank is 105 in closing business.

Taking into account, that Georgia is among the top 15 countries in this report, even the slight improvement compared to the previous year is a big success for Georgia. The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan should study the practice of their neighbor and try to push hard in order to get better ranks. Hopefully we will witness substantial improvements in the ranks of Armenia and Azerbaijan in "Doing Business 2012" report.

*The original source of all charts and data is "Doing Business 2011" report

November 11, 2010

So Close and Yet so Far...

On November 3rd, 2010 Armenian and Turkish scholars and experts met in Kars, Turkey for a round table (RT) to discuss Turkish-Armenian relations. Among the visitors from Armenia were Eurasia Partnership Foundation-Armenia country director Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan (on the left, first photo) and CRRC-Armenia country director Heghine Manasyan (second from the right, second photo). The event was organized by Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (Germany). It was held in Grand Ani Hotel (Kars, Turkey), and interestingly the working languages were Turkish and Armenian!

Short after this visit an article was published on Turkish newspaper Sabah, entitled "They Made a 45 Minute Journey in 12 Hours". The author of the article, Bilge Eser and many other Turkish participants of the RT from Istanbul have traveled with Armenian guests through Kars to Ani. While attending the RT and traveling, she learned and reflected in her article a lot of Kars related personal stories from the Armenian visitors. As she has stated in her article, the choice of the location was quite symbolic since Kars used to have a large Armenian population prior to World War I. Some of the Armenian participants of the discussion even happened to be grandchildren of Kars Armenians.

The session “The Role of Local Dynamics in Enhancing Cross-border Cooperation” that Heghine Manasyan moderated was mainly devoted to the economic development opportunities for both countries in case the border is open. Panelists of session - Vahan Asatryan from the International Center for Human Development (ICHD), Hüsnü Kaput from the Caucasus University, Vahagn Khachaturyan, former Mayor of Yerevan and İlhan Koçulu from the Boğatepe Foundation revealed many short-term and long-term benefits that will get Armenia and Turkey, especially its Eastern provinces.

Earlier this year, in September 20-22, CRRC-Armenia country director Heghine Manasyan was part of the Armenian team visiting Turkey (Istanbul) to make presentations on Armenian economy for Turkish journalists. This event was organized by Eurasia Partnership Foundation in Armenia, together with Global Political Trends Center, as continuation of a similar activity by Turkish experts for Armenian journalists. This visit was also reflected in Turkish media, particularly, in Hurriyet, with an article entitled "Armenian Experts Value European Perspectives."