Delivered by Ambassador Dennis Shea
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization
Geneva, November 20, 2018
Thank you, Chair. And Good Morning to you and Ambassador Gaffey. On behalf of the United States, I would like to join others in warmly welcoming Deputy Minister Avanesyan and the rest of the delegation for this Trade Policy Review (TPR) of Armenia. Nearly a decade has passed since Armenia’s first review in 2010, and the government has made significant changes to its economy, including its accession into the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2015.
During its first TPR, Armenia was widely commended for its sectoral reforms and market-driven polices, which resulted in an improved business climate and economic growth. Armenia was then on the cusp of acceding to the Agreement on Government Procurement, its average applied tariff rate was among the lowest of WTO Members, and – as stated by the Secretariat – “in many areas, particularly in services, Armenia’s trade policies [were] more liberal than its WTO accession commitments.”
In addition to these broad commendations, members also highlighted a few areas in which additional efforts were needed to sustain this economic performance: namely tax policy reform, enforcement of intellectual property rights, and various improvements in the areas of SPS and TBT.
Armenia should continue to be encouraged since its last review; its persistent sectoral reforms and sound macroeconomic policies have remained largely successful, in particular a simplified tax code, improvements in its tax administration, and a redoubling of efforts to improve its business climate have all contributed to Armenia’s respectable economic growth over the period of review. Furthermore, the United States would like to commend Armenia on becoming party to the Agreement on Government Procurement in 2011 and the revised agreement in 2015, and more recently, on Armenia’s ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2017.
The United States offers our questions and comments on the Armenian trade regime in a constructive spirit, and we would like to thank the Armenian delegation in advance for considering and responding to them. We are particularly interested in better understanding the impact of membership in the EAEUon Armenia’s authority and decision-making across a range of issues, including in the area of TBT and SPS measures. We look forward to understanding how Armenia defines the term “international standard,” the process for determining conformity assessment for EAEU technical regulations, and the status in Armenia of EAEU technical regulations that it has not yet notified to the WTO.
We urge Armenia to ensure prompt and full notification to WTO members of steps Armenia intends to take to modify these measures. We also urge Armenia to recognize the WTO TBT Committee Decision on international standards, and we would welcome greater detail on how Armenia is managing these regulatory processes since joining the EAEU.
In addition we seek clarification regarding the EAEU process for public consultations on draft technical regulations. Specifically, whether these consultations also take place regarding draft conformity assessment procedures and SPS measures; if interested parties from outside the EAEU are able to participate in the consultations; andif comments received during public consultation and comments received as a result of WTO notification are given equal consideration.
In the area of competition law, the United States requests more information on Armenia’s recent amendments to The Law on Protection of Economic Competition. Specifically, we would be grateful for more information on whether Armenia intends to further harmonize its Competition Law with that of the EAEU. In addition, the United States would welcome a more detailed explanation of how these amendments affect the selection of Members of the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition.
Finally, the United States also requests additional information concerning Armenia’s definitive dates for the implementation of provisions in the Trade Facilitation Agreement designated as Category B.
In closing, the United States appreciates the opportunity to participate in this review and provide constructive observations to a valued partner. We look forward to continued cooperation with Armenia and a deepening of our common interests. We also look forward to hearing of Armenia’s continued success during its next trade policy review.