HONG KONG (Reuter)–Armenia expects to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in early 1998 and wants stronger trade links with neighboring Azerbaijan and Turkey–Finance Minister Armen Darbinyan said on Wednesday.
"We are currently applying for membership to the World Trade Organization and we do believe that we will be accepted at the beginning of 1998…," Darbinyan said in a speech prepared for the World Bank/International Monetary Fund annual meetings.
Economic recovery in neighboring Georgia–along with increased trade with Iran–have eased Armenia’s forced economic isolation–he added.
"We hope that our existing informal trade with our other neighbors–Azerbaijan and Turkey–will soon be turned into official commercial–trade and financial transactions," he said. Improved tax and customs administrations should significantly boost tax revenues in the country’s 1998 budget.
"We are very close to the conclusion that Armenia has already passed the rehabilitation part of the transition and has entered into the development era," Darbinyan said.