December 28, 2013 - 13:36 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - There can’t be any customs points between Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said Friday, Dec 27, when addressing the heads of Armenian media outlets during a 3.5-hour press conference.
The PM said this was an answer to Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who demanded clarification on Customs Union borders in view of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
Though with reservation, Kazakhstan is ready to sign a roadmap on Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union, Nazarbayev said at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. He also voiced hope that experts will find a solution while coordinating the document.
“After the response of the Armenian side, the roadmap was signed,” Sargsyan said, adding that the Karabakh issue was not an obstacle for Armenia’s accession to the World Trade Organization and cannot hamper joining the Customs Union either.
The PM also said that Yerevan is negotiating customs duties for more than 400 goods with the CU member states. He didn’t rule out gradual increase of tariffs, which, according to him, can help boost local output.
Sargsyan said the agreement on Armenia’s accession to the CU is supposed to be signed in May 2014 after all key clauses are coordinated. In June, it will be submitted for ratification to the parliaments of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia.
He, however, refuted rumors about creation of common currency for all CU member countries.
Dwelling on cooperation with the West, PM Sargsyan said the Armenian government is “neither pro-Russian not pro-Western but pro-Armenian and it has the welfare of its citizens as the utmost goal.”
“Joining the Customs Union still doesn’t exclude possibility of signing a free trade agreement with the European Union. These are mutually complementary trends of cooperation,” he said.
As to the rise in gas prices and the recent transfer of 20% state-owned shares of ArmRusgazprom to the Russian side, Sargsyan said that the tariffs “can be lowered in case of consumption increase and major investments.”
Referring to the mandatory accumulative pension system, which aroused public discontent, the PM said it will help each person “be responsible for being secured in old age.”
The pension reform started in January 2011 with introduction of voluntary cumulative system which is supposed to become obligatory from January 2014. The employees (who are younger than 40) will transfer 5% of their salary to the pension fund, while another 5% will be allocated by the government. The sum will not, however, exceed AMD 25,000 for employees and AMD 300,000 for entrepreneurs.
Commenting on the prospects of the Armenian economy, the Prime Minister mentioned the pending $400 mln investment in Nairit plant for tire production.
He also noted a 7.1% industrial growth, as well as 6.7% and 12.5% growth in agriculture and tourism sectors respectively.
As for IT development, the year 2013 proved very productive, according to Sargsyan, who described the launch of smartphones and tablets production as one of the major achievements.
Armenia will launch production of locally made smartphones and tablets. The new Android-based devices - Armphone and Armtab - were developed by an Armenian-American joint venture, Technology and Science Dynamics Inc/Armtab Technologies Company.