LOS ANGELES (UCLA AGSA Release)–Last Tuesday evening the UCLA community hosted an event highlighting the recent establishment of the California-Armenia/Regional Trade Office (CARTO). Held at the UCLA Anderson School of business–the event served to enlighten the political science–economics–business–and international studies communities of UCLA; it was co-hosted by the UCLA International Business Association.
UCLA AGSA Executive Officer Haig Hovsepian introduced CA State Senator Jack Scott (D-21)–recent recipient of the ANCA-WR "Man of the Year" award. Scott spoke of the politics surrounding the legislative bill to establish a California trade office in Armenia.
Senator Scott–who visited Armenia to explore the feasibility of a trade office between the two states–explained that though such an office would facilitate business interaction between Armenia and the world’s 5th largest economy–a move that makes sense given California’s large and ever growing Armenian-American population–there was much resistance to the trade office bill as it was first proposed.
He noted–however–that innovative accountability measures as well as language allowing the trade office to open to the private sector–not only gave the state legislature the confidence to back the CARTO in these tough economic times for California–but also established the CARTO as a model for future California trade offices.
UCLA alumnus and ANCA-WR Director of Government Relations–Ardashes Kassakhian then spoke of the Armenian community’s role in the passage and eventual signing of the CARTO legislative bill into law by Governor Gray Davis.
He also said that the drive for this trade office began a year ago with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between California and the Republic of Armenia. The CARTO was conceived as a project to fortify and further develop the already existing vast trade prospects between the states. Kassakhian confirmed that through the grassroots efforts and advocacy of the Armenian community–the CARTO was given proper consideration by the California government.
The last speaker–International relations specialist and UCLA alumnus Joseph Simonian–discussed the economic justifications for the CARTO.
He noted that the Republic of Armenia–with of the most stable governmen’s and economies in the region–along with the nature of its economic production and its friendly relations with the US–especially with the state of California with its large Armenian-American community–was the perfect choice for California in establishing a presence in the region’s economy.