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Survey Concludes Armenian Competitiveness Still Lagging

A trader at an agricultural market in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

A trader at an agricultural market in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

YEREVAN -- An annual global survey suggests that Armenia's domestic market has failed to increase its competitiveness in the past year and continues to lag behind most other countries, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Armenia ranks 98th in the Geneva-based World Economic Forum's (WEF) latest Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) of 139 economies around the world. Neighboring Azerbaijan and Georgia rank 57 and 93, respectively.

Each of the countries surveyed was assigned a GCI score based on 12 factors including the efficiency of public institutions and the labor market, the macroeconomic environment, financial market sophistication, and the quality of public health care and education.

Although there was a slight increase in Armenia's score from last year, it was not enough to improve the country's ranking.

The survey found "notable positive changes" in the fields of health, primary education, and higher education. But it said those were mostly nullified by a "significant downward trend" in the macroeconomic situation, an apparent reference to last year's sharp contraction of the Armenian economy.

"Our score is rising much more slowly than others countries' scores," said Manuk Hergnian of the Yerevan-based Economy and Values Center, which conducted the Armenian segment of the WEF research.

"That the Armenian government is doing something to improve legal procedures for the opening and management of businesses is evident," Hergnian told journalists while presenting the survey's findings. "But problems start when it comes to the implementation of laws, which is what this indicator of competitiveness primarily measures."

Commenting on government policies that would make the Armenian economy more competitive, Hergnian singled out the need to strengthen business competition and enforce the country's antitrust legislation.

The survey concluded: "Armenia's competitive advantages are the low level of redundancy costs, effective labor market regulations, ease of procedures for starting a business, as well as the low business impact of malaria, crime and violence. The list of major disadvantages highlights competition issues, such as effectiveness of antimonopoly policy, intensity of local competition and extent of market dominance, as well as capital market deficiencies, such as access to local equity and venture capital financing."