Sunday, May 17, 2009

Trading partners, 2008

The EU continues to be the leading trading partner of Armenia. It accounted for over one half the country's exports, or $576 million, in 2008. It also accounted for some 25 to 30 percent of its imports, or $1,174 to 1,359 million, depending on how they are valued. At some distance, it is followed by Russia (15-20 percent). The greatest increase in trade, both in volume and rate of growth, is with China and Turkey.

Below is a list of countries with either exports to or imports from Armenia in excess of $100 million in 2008. There are two sets of import figures. The figures in the second set, the last column, reflect the value of goods from the country of origin. In contrast, the middle column reflects values shipped through intermediaries. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), for instance, accounted for imports of $516 million. But once this is adjusted for the fact that this country is an intermediary, the actual figure drops to $32 million. Similarly, the $122 million attributed to Panama dwindles down to insignificance once the figures are adjusted.

Source: Armstat, in USD millions. Export and import figures for the years 1993-2006 (first two columns of the table) are available on the data page of

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cross country performance comparisons

The IMF just released a study where Armenia's performance is contrasted with that of countries in Eurasia. It provides a useful review of past economic performance and prospects for the future. It touches virtually on all the factors at play in influencing economic performance.
The report is entitled Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia.

Monday, May 04, 2009

FDI in 2008

Despite all the doom and gloom, 2008 turned out to be another banner year for foreign direct investment. FDI grew by 34 percent in 2008 to 935 USD million; in Q4, FDI grew by 30 percent, year over year. Much of this investment was in the energy related sectors (Russia), followed by telecom (Russia, France), and transportation (Argentina), among others.

FDI in USD millions, source: IMF

Armstat provides detailed figures on who invests in the country and in what sectors. The table below provides figures on annual FDI for the largest investors (except for Iran and Turkey) through 2007, as well as the net stock which accounts for mergers and acquisitions (eg, Russia vs Greece and Lebanon in telecom). An xls file with more detailed information is available on the data page of With the exception of the past couple of years, the EU was the largest source of FDI to the country.

What explains this robust growth in FDI? Is it because the base is too small? How much of this is accounted for by Diaspora investments? And why Russian firms, again with the exception for the past couple of year, had so (relatively) little presence in the country?

FDI in USD millions, source: Armstat. These figures have been slightly revised in recent data releases which also include 2008.

June 4: FDI in Q1 of 2009 was USD 139 million, surpassing the investment level in 2008. The EU accounted for much of this, France (mostly telecom) in particular with 84 million. It was followed from a distance by Russia (28 million), Argentina (11 million), and the US (8).