Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trade relations

I have repeatedly read over and over that Armenia has close economic ties with Russia. Yet upon close examination of trends in the pattern of trade, I find the actual volume of trade to be unimpressive, and particularly unremarkable in the case of exports where Germany and the Netherlands are actually the largest trading partners of Armenia (see export and import statistics).

Armenia's imports from Russia were $268.5 and 364.8 million in 2005 and 2006, respectively. These are well below Azerbaijan's imports of $717.2 and 1,181.6 million over the two years; Georgia's imports from Russia were $383.4 million in 2005.

More remarkably, Armenia's imports are a mere fraction of Turkey's imports from Russia; $13.9 billion was reported for 2006, or about 38 times that of Armenia. Equally impressive is the rapid growth in Turkey's imports over the past decade when it was about $2 billion in 1997 (, making Russia Turkey's largest trading partner.

As with Russia, Armenia imports "little" from Iran; a total of $133 million is reported for 2006. In contrast, Turkey imported $4.5 billion from Iran, or about 34 times that of Armenia. Also, and unlike that of the latter, Turkey's imports have grown rapidly over the past decade (

Armenia's trade with Russia, as well as Iran, pales in comparison to that of its neighbors. It is not clear why so many hold the opposite view. But more importantly, why trade with Russia (and Iran) is so anemic and remains stagnant particularly in the case of Iran?


November 6, 2008 -- I should have added the following to further illustrate the weak trade links with Russia whereby its share of Armenia's trade turnover declined from 33 percent in the early 1990s down to 15 percent.

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