Tuesday, 25 September

Putin and Sargsyan in Moscow: Hyping Armenia’s Joining the Eurasian Economic Union

Many in the know were more than slightly amazed when yesterday, in Moscow during a meeting with visiting Armenian President Sargsyan, Russian President Valdimir Putin remarked that Armenia’s GDP had grown by 10% since becoming a member of the Eurasian Economic Union in January of 2015.

“It’s a pleasure for me to note, and I want to thank you on the occasion. I’ve looked at last year’s figures. Armenia’s GDP, as the data shows, has risen 10% since joining the Eurasian Economic Union. Of course, this is a very positive number,” said Putin.

How Putin came up with 10% is a question that remains unanswered.

Armenia has never registered such growth since the international financial crisis. According to the country’s National Statistical Service, Armenia’s GDP rose 3% in 2015 and 3.5% in 2014.

Tooting his own horn at the meeting, President Sargsyan announced that Armenia’s trade volume had increased by 12% over the last six months.

“I would like to satisfactorily note that, despite international and regional economic problems, out trade numbers have increased by 12% over the past six months, and Armenian exports to Russia have grown by 90%. This is naturally due to the possibilities extended by the Eurasian Economic Union,” Sargsyan said.

However, let’s take a sobering look at Armenia’s recent trade figures.

In 2015, Armenia - Russia dropped by 18%. Armenian exports to Russia fell by 26.7%. The drop occurred during the very year Armenia joined the Russian-backed Eurasian Economic Union.

Over the past five years, Armenian exports to Russia peaked in 2013, at US$334.2 million. The number dropped to $308.2 in 2014, and 225.9 in 2015.

Based on official data, Armenian exports to Russia are up 87.4% during the first half of 2016 over the same period in 2015.

It goes without saying that the “positive” numbers noted by Putin and Sargsyan are designed to justify Armenia’s last minute decision not to sign an EU Association Agreement in favor of joining the EEU.

 How they came up with these figures remains a mystery. Then too, what would have happened if Armenia never joined the EEU? Would the country have fared better?

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