YEREVAN (Armradio.am) — This week, the first meeting of the U.S.-Armenia Council on Trade and Investment will be held in Yerevan. Following that historic session, members of the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force will also gather in Yerevan.

“The U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force (or USATF), was created in 1999 and it meets every year. The annual meetings are an opportunity for high-level delegations from both the Armenian and U.S. governments to meet and have an opportunity to discuss ways how we can deepen our economic ties, we can further market reforms in Armenia, and how we, as the U.S. government, can best use U.S. assistance to contribute to Armenia’s long-term economic growth, create more jobs, and promote trade between our two countries,” U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr. said. “Then in addition, this past May, our two countries signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (called a TIFA). And the TIFA establishes something called the Armenia-U.S. Council on Trade and Investment. It is this newly-established TIFA Council that will hold very detailed, very deep discussions that are specifically focused on our trade relationship and what are some of the barriers to Armenians trading and investing in the U.S. and to Americans trading and investing in Armenia.”

During the first meeting of the Armenia-U.S. Council on Trade and Investment, a day-long session which will take place on November 17, technical experts from both sides will discuss a wide range of issues, including intellectual property rights, customs clearances, technical barriers to trade, sanitary measures, investment promotion efforts, private sector engagement, government procurement, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and environmental and labor issues.

“There will be participants at this week’s TIFA Council meeting from the U.S. government and the Armenian government, and they will discuss a number of issues that, if left unaddressed, can hinder trade between our two countries,” Ambassador Mills said. “The idea is to identify and then have both countries commit to address these very technical trade issues; and in doing so, help to improve trade and business between the United States and Armenia. The goal of all of this, and particularly of the Council, is to get more American products available to Armenian consumers. That will increase Armenians’ choice and competition. And it means easier access to the U.S. market for Armenian businessmen and women, Armenian exporters. And that should create jobs here in Armenia that will help the Armenian economy and help the average Armenian.”

On November 19, the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force will meet here in Yerevan to discuss economic issues of mutual interest to our countries.

“The newly-established Council on Trade and Investment (the TIFA Council) is a platform to discuss very specific, very technical trade issues, while the USATF Joint Economic Task Force brings together senior officials from the U.S. and Armenian government to focus on big-picture, larger economic issues that will affect our bilateral relationship now and in the future; issues such as, tax reform in Armenia, anti-corruption efforts, Armenia’s nuclear power strategy and broader energy strategy going into the future. As I discussed last week during my speech at the American Chamber of Commerce, my top priority as U.S. ambassador is to intensify the business and the commercial relations between our two countries. And I think TIFA and USATF have a very important role to play as the relationship between our two countries is beginning to shift from one that has primarily been based on assistance to one that is now grounded in very mutually beneficial trade and economic partnerships,” said Ambassador Mills.

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