YEREVAN. – Executive Vice President of the U.S. government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) David Bohigian and other U.S. government officials have recently visited Yerevan to promote U.S. investment. In a phone interview with Armenian News-NEWS.am Mr. Bohigian spoke about the goal of his visit, as well as the future of the U.S.-Armenia economic cooperation.
What was the main goal of your visit to Armenia? Are the recent changes taking place in Armenia favorable for promotion of U.S. investments?
The goal of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is to support development of democracy and prosperity, and in Armenia after revolution in spring the commitment to democracy is something that the U.S. government wants to support by creating the 21st century venture economy, the 21st century democracy. We are very pleased to meet with senior representatives of the Armenian government, key members of the business community. We want to work with the private sector for the prosperity of Armenia.
The U.S. government is pleased by democratic reforms that are taking place in Armenia and pleased by progress in economic reforms. We continue to see increasing interest in Armenia. As the Cabinet can work to make sure that there is fair economy for all Armenians, as well as having elections that people see as free, and fair and transparent. The future of the U.S.-Armenian economic cooperation is great, and I think that this sentiment is shared by the Armenian government and business community.
Which areas are the most perspective in terms of US investments in Armenia?
We were pleased to see the investment climate in Armenia be one of the better investment climates in the world. We would like to see additional anti-corruption measures. We want to see free, open and fair elections. In the near term those two measures can provide additional interest of the U.S. business community. We talked to Deputy PM about sectors which are priorities, including renewable energy, technology, smart agriculture, tourism and financial sector. In addition to that we visited Yerevan State University and Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center.
The Armenian American groups, lawmakers and even some companies, such as Grant Thornton repeatedly urge the U.S. government to start negotiations over Double Tax Treaty with Armenia. Do you think the lack of this treaty hampers investments?
In terms of tax policy, that is the matter of our Treasury Department. We discussed the conditions under which OPIC can work with the private sector to help increase our investments. We have over $11 million investments in Armenia through OPIC. In our high level meetings we did not discuss tax policy matters.