Armenia

Since gaining independence in 1991, Armenia has seen its economy move from that of an industrial supplier to mining, small-scale agriculture and high tech.

A former member of the Soviet Union, Armenia has worked to get rid of the systemic corruption that held it back. In the former Zvartnots International Airport, for example, passengers had to pay bribes at every step. Today, in a flashy new terminal, that no longer happens; however, the country is still battling the old ways in other parts of society.

Since gaining independence in 1991, Armenia has seen its economy move from that of an industrial supplier of machine tools, textiles and manufactured goods to mining, small-scale agriculture and high tech. In other areas, Armenia remains dependent on Russia. Russia owns and/or manages much of its infrastructure and also manages its energy sector, including electricity and natural gas.

Armenia is a landlocked, mountainous country. Its borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are closed, though the country, which joined the World Trade Organization in 2003, maintains open trade borders with Georgia and Iran.

Armenia has attempted to make itself attractive to investors in a number of ways. For example, it offers a three-year tax hiatus to IT companies that invest in the country and have 15 or fewer employees.

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

1. Culture and cuisine. Armenia’s culture is Mediterranean. Business will often be conducted over lunch or dinner; book at least two hours for such meetings and treat your hosts to a meal as well.

2. Tick-tock. Armenians are punctual — they will allow 15 minutes for tardiness, but will leave after that.

3. Dress to impress. Men dress in suits and ties and women wear dresses or business suits.

4. Mind your devices. As in Canada, it’s best to keep your phone off and put away, though phones will be allowed in emergencies.

5. Catch your eye. Armenians look openly at passersby. Westerners may find it strange, but shouldn’t be concerned.

FACTS FOR INVESTORS

1. Yerevan is the capital and business centre.

2. Armenia ranks 66th out of 144 countries on Forbes’ Best Countries for Business list for 2015.

3. The country ranks 35th out of 189 countries on the World Bank’s 2015 Ease of Doing Business index.

4. Armenia is the world’s 144th biggest importer and 150th biggest exporter.

TRAVEL TIPS

1. Wi-Fi: Internet access is considered a human right. It is available at most hotels and public places and the government is considering making its availability mandatory for businesses.

2. Language matters: Armenian is the dominant first language; English is now catching up with Russian as the second most widely spoken language across the country. A language dictionary or translation app is a good idea if you’re travelling in rural areas.

3. Tipping: Tipping is common, though not expected; offer no more than 10%.

4. Getting around: Compared with western prices, taxis are cheap; so much so that it will be tempting to take them even between cities. Otherwise, buses and minibuses are available in Yerevan and between cities. The former are more spacious and less expensive, though the latter are faster.

5. Currency: Armenian dram.

Armenia info chart