GLENDALE-Governor Gray Davis and Armenia’s foreign minister Vartan Oskanian signed an economic development memorandum of understanding during a special ceremony Tuesday at the Hilton Glendale–to promote trade between California and Armenia.
In remarks made prior to the signing of the document–Davis underscored the importance of the MOU for the future prospects of trade between California and Armenia. California is ranked as the fifth largest economy in the world.
Foreign minister Oskanian told the more than 300 state–local and federal officials–as well as community leaders and activists that the more than century-old California Armenian community was the impetus for entering into trade with the state.
The process to foster beneficial trade relations between Armenia and California was initiated several years ago by then State Senator Adam Schiff–who in cooperation with the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region began a comprehensive probe into prospects of establishing a trade office in Armenia.
After Schiff was elected to Congress in 2000–the torch was passed to Sen. Jack Scott–who has authored legislation calling for the establishment of a trade office in Yerevan currently pending in the State Senate. Tuesday’s signing ceremony will greatly enhance chances for the passage of the resolution.
The document provides incentives for California businesses to invest in the Armenian economy. Furthermore–the MOU also eases trade provisions to allow for a favorable climate for exporting Armenian goods and services to California. This includes easing of value added tax provisions on certain goods being imported into California.
After signing the agreement–Oskanian raised his glass to toast this new era in cooperation between Armenia and California–pointing out that the wine–which was being served at the ceremony was a product of Armenia.
"The vineyards of California attracted Armenia’s to California almost a century agoand it is only appropriate that today we toast this new cooperation with wine made in Armenia," commented Oskanian. Oskanian went on to thank members of the State Assembly who traveled to Armenia this summer. The delegation included Assemblymembers Dario Frommer and Carol Liu.
The Armenian business community in California was also represented at the signing ceremony. Political officials thanked the business community for creating and furthering the prospects for trade with Armenia.
Also speaking at Tuesday’s ceremony was Congressman Schiff–who commended Sen. Scott for his unwavering efforts to ensure the establishment of a trade office in Armenia.
He added that his trip to Armenia in August was an opportunity to learn more about the economic situation in Armenia and to become better acquainted with the needs of the country as it attempts to enact viable economic reforms.
Schiff’s trip to Armenia was sponsored by the ANCA-WR.
Present at the signing were Armenia’s Ambassador to the US Armand Kirakosian–Armenia’s Ambassador to the UN Movses Abelian–Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Valery Mkrtoumian–Western Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian–Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee–ANCA-WR–the Armenian Relief Society Western Regional Executive–as well as members and representatives from other community organizations and parties.