Microsoft, FedEx, and NASDAQ among Companies Seeking Bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
WASHINGTON—A broad range of American companies doing business in Armenia, including Microsoft, FedEx, and NASDAQ, have, in letters shared with the U.S. Embassy, called upon the Obama Administration to take concrete action prioritizing the growth of U.S.-Armenia economic relations through the negotiation of a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), in the interest of job-creation in both America and Armenia, is actively engaged with the White House, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Congress, and the Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce in support of a broad array of practical steps and policies to promote U.S.-Armenia economic and commercial relations.
These firms employ thousands in Armenia and worldwide, generate tens of millions of dollars in revenues, and are engines of progress, friendship, and cooperation for both nations. Among those joining with Microsoft, FedEx, and NASDAQ in petitioning for a TIFA were Marriott, Ameria Banking Group, Prudence Legal Advisory and Counseling, Grant Thornton, Baker Tilley Armenia, Synergy, Tufenkian Heritage Hotels, Altacode, Leda Campus LLC, Levon Travel, Unicomp, Synopsys, Megerian Carpet, National Instruments, Mentor Graphics, First Mortgage, Geoteam, Hylink, LC Distribution, and Linkgard Systems.
The Armenian government has long been on record requesting that its U.S. partners join with them in negotiating a TIFA, as well as a much-needed Double Tax Treaty. The American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia, through the active leadership of its Chairman, Edward Mouradian and professional support from its Executive Director Diana Gaziyan, has played a vital role in giving voice to the public policy priorities of the U.S. business community in Armenia. Many members of the U.S. Congress have expressed their support for a U.S.-Armenia TIFA, as has the ANCA. Obama, for his part, during his 2008 campaign, promised to foster expanded trade with Armenia. U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern, during his confirmation process, also spoke of his interest in expanding the U.S.-Armenia trade relationship.
Beyond reinforcing the strong cultural bonds between the American and Armenian peoples, these corporations, in their letters, pointed out that the creation of a TIFA platform for ongoing bilateral economic dialogue would help facilitate a broad range of benefits to both the United States and Armenia, including:
— improving the investment climate, identifying priority areas for growth, and building trade capacity;
— addressing regional trade issues, including the special hardships faced by Armenia due to the blockades imposed on its borders by Turkey and Azerbaijan;
— streamlining customs systems, and increasing the transparency of governmental processes related to imports and exports;
— discussing the effectiveness of current programs in Armenia of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and U.S. Trade and Development Agency;
— expanding agricultural trade and investment;
— growing the level of trade in services, including banking, insurance, and tourism;
— promoting diasporan trade and investment, with a special focus on expanding
Armenian-American trade and investment partnerships with Armenia;
— improving Armenia’s use of U.S. Generalized System of Preferences benefits;
— addressing any outstanding problems in the area of intellectual property rights; and
— exploring ways to deepen future U.S.-Armenia trade and investment
In their letters, these firms stressed their interest in building upon a TIFA platform through additional bilateral accords, notably a Double Tax Treaty, a Social Security Agreement, and, ultimately, a Free Trade Agreement.
Copies of the letters, addressed to Obama, were handed to Heffern this week during his meetings with Armenian-American organizations and community members in the Los Angeles area. Heffern is participating in a series of community outreach meetings and town halls in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York.