Economy of ArmeniaMonday, January 31, 2022
The Armenian economy contracted sharply in 2020, by 5.7%. In contrast it grew by 7.6 per cent in 2019, the largest recorded growth since 2007, while between 2012 and 2018 GDP grew 40.7%, and key banking indicators like assets and credit exposures almost doubled.
Until independence, Armenia's economy was based largely on industry—chemicals, electronic products, machinery, processed food, synthetic rubber and textiles; it was highly dependent on outside resources. Armenian mines produce copper, zinc, gold and lead. The vast majority of energy is produced with imported fuel from Russia, including gas and nuclear fuel for Armenia's Metsamor nuclear power plant. The main domestic energy source is hydroelectric. Small amounts of coal, gas and petroleum have not yet been developed.
Armenia's severe trade imbalance has been offset somewhat by international aid, remittances from Armenians working abroad, and foreign direct investment. Economic ties with Russia remain close, especially in the energy sector.
The former government had made some improvements in tax and customs administration in recent years, but anti-corruption measures had been more difficult to implement in the period when Republican Party of Armenia was in power. This is expected to change after the 2018 Armenian revolution.
Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia had developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics in exchange for raw materials and energy. Since the implosion of the USSR in December 1991, Armenia has switched to small-scale agriculture away from the large agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. The agricultural sector has long-term needs for more investment and updated technology. Armenia began borrowing soon after declaring independence. In 2000, Armenian governmental debt reached its greatest level relative to GDP (49.3 percent of GDP).
Armenia is a food importer, and its mineral deposits (gold and bauxite) are small. The ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh (which was part of Soviet Azerbaijan) and the breakup of the centrally directed economic system of the former Soviet Union contributed to a severe economic decline in the early 1990s. Because of political instability and war threat, the Armenian Economy did not have a chance to develop. The problem reached its peak during the second war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The war lasted 44 days, starting from September 27 until November 10, and the result was the worst condition for Armenian Economy. After the war the public debt of Armenia reached to 70% of GDP, making the economy more fragile.
History of the modern Armenian economy
At the beginning of the 20th century, the territory of present-day Armenia was an agricultural region with some copper mining and cognac production. From 1914 through 1921, Caucasian Armenia suffered from genocide of about 1.5 million Armenian inhabitants on their own homeland which obviously caused total property and financial collapse when all their assets and belongings were forcibly taken away by the Turks the consequences of which after 105 years to this day remain incalculable, revolution, the influx of refugees from Turkish Armenia, disease, hunger and economic misery. About 200,000 people died in 1919 alone. At that point, only American relief efforts saved Armenia from total collapse. Thus, Armenians went from being one of the wealthiest ethnic groups in the region to suffer from poverty and famine. Armenians were the second richest ethnic group in Anatolia after the Greeks, and they were heavily involved in very high productive sectors such as banking, architecture, and trade. However, after the mass killings of Armenian intellectuals in April 1915 and the genocide targeted towards the whole Armenian population left the people and the country in ruins. The genocide and then communism were responsible for the loss of many high-quality skills that the Armenians possessed.
The first Soviet Armenian government regulated economic activity stringently, nationalizing all economic enterprises, requisitioning grain from peasants, and suppressing most private market activity. This first experiment of state control ended with the advent of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin's New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1921–1927. This policy continued state control of the large enterprises and banks, but peasants could market much of their grain, and small businesses could function. In Armenia, the NEP years brought partial recovery from the economic disaster of the post-World War I period. By 1926 agricultural production in Armenia had reached nearly three-quarters of its prewar level.
By the end of the 1920s, Stalin's regime had revoked the NEP and reestablished the state monopoly of all economic activity. Once this occurred, the main goal of the Soviet economic policy in Armenia was to turn a predominantly agrarian and rural republic into an industrial and urban one. Among other restrictions, peasants now were forced to sell nearly all of their output to state procurement agencies rather than at the market. From the 1930s through the 1960s, an industrial infrastructure has been constructed. Besides hydroelectric plants and canals, roads were built and gas pipelines were laid to bring fuel and food from Azerbaijan and Russia.
The Stalinist command economy, in which market forces were suppressed and all orders for production and distribution came from the state authorities, survived in all its essential features until the fall of the Soviet regime in 1991. In the early stages of the communist economic revolution, Armenia underwent a fundamental transformation into a "proletarian" society. Between 1929 and 1939, the percentage of Armenia's work force categorised as industrial workers grew from 13% to 31%. By 1935 industry supplied 62% of Armenia's economic production. Highly integrated and sheltered within artificial barter economy of the Soviet system from the 1930s until the end of the communist era, the Armenian economy showed few signs of self-sufficiency at any time during that period. In 1988, Armenia produced only 0.9% of the net material product of the Soviet Union (1.2% of industry, 0.7% of agriculture). The republic retained 1.4% of total state budget revenue, delivered 63.7% of its NMP to other republics, and exported only 1.4% of what it produced to markets outside the Soviet Union.
Agriculture accounted for only 20% of net material product and 10% of employment before the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Armenia's industry was especially dependent on the Soviet military-industrial complex. About 40% of all enterprises in the republic were devoted to defense, and some factories lost 60% to 80% of their business in the last years of the Soviet Union, when massive cuts were made in the national defense expenditures. As the republic's economy faced the prospects of competing in world markets in the mid 1990s, the great liabilities of Armenia's industry were its outdated equipment and infrastructure and the pollution emitted by many of the country's heavy industrial plants.
The economic downturn that began in 1989 worsened dramatically in 1992. According to statistics, the GDP declined by 37.5 percent in 1991 compared to 1990, and all sectors contributing to the GDP decreased in production. The collapse of industry in favor of agriculture, whose products were mostly imported throughout the Soviet period, changed the structure of sectoral contributions to GDP.
In 1991, Armenia's last year as a Soviet republic, national income fell 12% from the previous year, while per capita gross national product was 4,920 rubles, only 68% of the Soviet average. In large part due to the earthquake of 1988, the Azerbaijani blockade that began in 1989 and the collapse of the international trading system of the Soviet Union, the Armenian economy of the early 1990s remained far below its 1980 production levels. In the first years of independence (1992–93), inflation was extremely high, productivity and national income dropped dramatically, and the national budget ran large deficits.
A period of chronic shortages, was the first stage of price deregulation, which allowed goods to stay in Armenia as opposed to being exported for better prices; the inflation rates were 10 percent in 1990, 100 percent in 1991, and 642.5 percent during the first four months of 1992, compared with the first four months of 1991. Thus, there were two opposing dynamics: price increases in response to shortages and falling incomes due to the recession and unemployment