Armenia Improves Business Climate and Internet Freedom
By Danielle Saroyan
Armenian Agenda Associate Editor
In recent reports from the World Bank Group and Freedom House, Armenia proves it has developed the second best business climate and internet freedom ranking in the South Caucasus, following Georgia.
On October 27, 2015, the World Bank Group published Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency, an annual report measuring the regulations that enhance and constrain business in comparison to 189 economies. According to the report, Armenia is among the top performers in Europe and Central Asia. Armenia’s ranking for its “ease of doing business” is 35th, up from its 38th place last year. In comparison, Georgia is ranked 24th, Turkey is 55th, and Azerbaijan is 63rd.
In the past year, the Armenian government has made economic reforms, leading to a more ideal business environment. Armenia is among the 26 economies at the global level that implemented three or more reforms. Construction permits in Armenia improved with new streamlined procedures, building regulations, and a building quality control process. Armenia’s economy now makes it easier to trade across borders, reducing the time and cost for document preparation, customs clearance, and trade inspections.
“Armenia reduced the time and cost for documentary and border compliance for trade with the Russian Federation by joining the Eurasian Economic Union,” the World Bank Group report stated. “As a result, the time for import border compliance was reduced from approximately 50 hours to 3 hours,” the report said.
In addition to an improved business environment, Armenia is ranked as “free” alongside Georgia in the Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net 2015 report on internet freedom. Meanwhile, both Turkey and Azerbaijan are categorized as “not free.”
“The Armenian government does not consistently or pervasively block users’ access to content online,” according to Freedom House. “The most common incidents of censorship of online content relate to blocking and filtering of platforms and websites by the Russian regulatory authority, which affects access to the same content for some internet users in Armenia, since Armenia receives its web traffic from Russia. However, these cases are promptly resolved by internet service providers once reported by users,” the report says.
There have been no reports of restrictions or internet access imposed by the Armenian government, including temporary disconnections from the internet, since June 2014. On a scale of 0 (best) to 100 (worst), Armenia has an internet freedom score of 28 and Georgia has a score of 24. Turkey and Azerbaijan’s internet freedom declined since last year, ranking 58 and 56, respectfully.
Graphic 1: World Bank Group’s 2015 Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency country profile on Armenia.
Graphic 2: Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net score comparison in the Caucasus. The scale is from 0 (best) to 100 (worst).