Buying and Selling

flag Armenia Armenia: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier

 

Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
International Economic Cooperation
Among others, Armenia is member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), of the World Bank etc.  
Non Tariff Barriers
Armenia is considered as having one of the most open tariff regimes. Although Armenia is a member of WTO and the Customs Code is in full compliance with WTO rules, the application of market value, rather than transaction value, in the valuation of goods is a common practice, creating an unpredictable and intimidating environment for international traders as well as domestic firms. At the same time, customs officials complain that importers systematically under-report the transaction value of goods to avoid tariffs. Besides, it should be noted that there is no quota for imports from other WTO member countries.

Most imports are free of licensing requirements. However, there are some restrictions for health, security, or environmental reasons. Medicines must be authorized by the Ministry of Health and agricultural chemicals by the Ministry of Agriculture.
In the event of complaints against the Customs Authorities the importer may appeal to the superior Customs authority or to the courts.
For more details on customs regulations, visit Armenian Customs Service.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
10%


Customs Classification
Armenia uses the Harmonized system of Tariffs classification. Tariffs are in ad valorem and levied on C.I.F values. Armenia is member of the World Customs Organization and uses the transaction value method of customs valuation, based on the provisions of the 1994 GATT Agreement on the implementation of Article VII.
Import Procedures
Armenia has adopted the EAEU harmonised tariffs and fully applies the requirements of its Customs Code. EAEU regulations now deal with trade in the integrated customs zone. Despite this effort in harmonisation, customs clearance remains one of the main issues for foreign companies working in the Armenian market. According to EAEU requirements customs clearance, as a general rule, should be performed in the jurisdiction of the respective participants in foreign economic operations. For example, goods transiting to Armenia and/or Kazakhstan from foreign suppliers through Russia are customs cleared at the EAEU’s external frontier in Russia. This is the same procedure for items entering Armenia and Kazakhstan destined for other countries within the EAEU. Armenia does not have a common border with and EAEU members, all goods must transit through Georgia, adding complications that are yet to be fully resolved.

A uniform rate of 10% applies to the majority of the imports (all exports from Armenia are duty-free). Some essential goods like foodstuffs, raw material and fuel are exempt from customs duties. Customs requires importers to present a customs declaration form with a commercial invoice indicating the specifications, quantity, and value of goods being imported. The State Customs Committee has implemented an online declaration process (Direct Trader Input or “DTI”) which reduces personal contact between customs officials and importers. Tobacco and alcoholic beverages require a certificate of quality issued by the national certification body, Armexpertiza.

Also, according to the Customs Code, no duties are levied on goods in the following categories:
- Transit shipments;
- Imports into a customs warehouse;
- Imports into a customs-free warehouse;
- Imports into a duty-free shop;
- Temporary import for inward processing;
- Temporary imports

For more information, please visit the website of the Customs Service of Armenia.
Importing Samples
Sample products should be declared at the entry in the country.
As they are also considered as temporary "importation", no particular taxes should apply.
 
 
For Further Information
Customs of Armenia

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
With a GDP per capita of USD 4,130 (IMF, 2021), the Armenian consumer is the poorest in the Caucasus. The average consumer is 36.6 years old (CIA World Factbook, 2020), which puts Armenia somewhere between Saint Kitts and Nevis and Curaçao in terms of median age. Nevertheless, the population is declining (a -0.25% natural growth rate, according to the CIA's latest data available, coupled with an emigration ratio of 1.7 migrants/1,000 population - United Nations, 2019) and the share of the young population in the age structure is lower than in most neighbouring countries (people aged between 0-24 years account for 30.27% of the population - CIA World Factbook, 2020 est.). The urbanisation rate (63.2% in 2019 - World Bank, latest data available) is higher than other Caucasian countries, but also lower than Iran and Turkey at the same time.
While the local population has a low purchasing power, members of the Armenian diaspora, that live in the US or Europe, regularly visit the country and contribute to retail sales, mostly by purchasing traditional items such as carpets, wine and jewellery.
Consumer Behaviour
After decades of fixed price policy under the Soviet Union, the Armenian consumer has been exposed to the realities of a free market economy. The Armenian consumer is very price-sensitive but is also eager to be able to choose between several products. Foreign goods and brand names are very attractive to such consumers. Almost one-third of Armenian residents live under the poverty threshold. Furthermore, food expenditure takes up an important part of private consumption as wages are relatively low (on average AMD 19,377 per month spending at USD 36.7 in 2019 - Statistical Committee of the Republic of Armenia, latest data available). The country's new tax code, which entered into force in January 2018, introduced new excise duties on fuel, tobacco and alcohol, as well as a higher income tax. This reform is likely to impact consumer spending throughout the year and has already faced backlash from consumers.
Consumers Associations
Armenian National Association of Consumers
Main Advertising Agencies
BTL Services - advertising agency
Media Group
Prime Commercial
Sketch Style

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
According to the National Statistical Service, Armenia’s domestic trade in 2016 increased by 1% to about 2.2 trillion AMD and the biggest contributor to the domestic trade volume was retail trade, at about 1.2 trillion AMD in 2016.  AT Kearney's 2015 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) ranked Armenia 10th globally for retail opportunities, a drop of four spots compared to 2014 due to weak economic performance. AT Kearney notes that Armenia still has an unsaturated retail market which is shifting rapidly to modern formats. In Yerevan, the country's capital and home to about 80% of the country's retail sales, shoppers spend almost $100 million monthly on consumer goods, primarily food. Home improvement, clothing, and furniture are the top non-food categories. The size of the Armenian market is relatively small, but the potential for retail trade is considered to be high.

Retail trade is moving from small and medium stores to large trade centers, including supermarkets.  Currently, there are several malls and large stores operating in Yerevan involved in trade of food and consumer products. Supermarkets are the most frequently used stores for FMCG purchases in Yerevan with 369.5 thousand customers daily. Small shops have nearly a third fewer customers. However the market share of large supermarkets is still only about 39% (2016 data) of total value of FMCG trade in Yerevan. The Yerevan Mall opened in February 2014; its major tenants include Inditex Group brands and a Carrefour hypermarket, which finally made its entry into Armenia after working to do so for several years. This development is a solid sign of improvement for the market, whose high levels of corruption and local monopolism have previously hampered the entry of international players. FMCG retail trade sector developments in Armenia follow the overall global trend: which is the gradual change to large-scale stores (supermarkets, hypermarkets).

According to AT Kearney’s report the main challenges for Armenia are the small population and strong monopolies in certain sectors. Carrefour’s delayed entrance into the market highlights these difficulties. However, international retailers benefit from a market that is shifting towards a western style business management, and from the Government’s efforts to attract international investments.
Market share
Business activity is concentrated close to 80% in the capital city of Yerevan (AT Kearney). Most imported products and services are managed by agents and distributors. Most businesses in Armenia are relatively small and family-owned, although there are some notable exceptions, including several major local and European supermarket chains (Carrefour opened its first hypermarket in 2014) and some department stores. Large companies representing several brands often have their own distribution hubs based in Yerevan.
The main actors of the food distribution are:
- Artashat Cannery (29% market share)
- Euroterm (27% market share)
- Ararat Food Factory (14% market share)
- Nicola International (11% market share)
- Sis Natural (11% market share)
Retail Sector Organisations
Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Armenia
Ministry of Economic Development and Investments

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E-commerce

Internet access
As of December 2017, there were 2.9 million people in Armenia, out of which 2.1 million were internet users, making the penetration rate 72.5%. Internet is ubiquitous in Armenia's capital Yerevan with many cafes, universities and schools providing free wi-fi access. In contrast, many villages have only one or two mobile broadband services. Approximately 60% of rural towns are covered by fixed-line broadband. 3G services are available to almost 100% of the population, covering 90% of the country. In general, online content is widely accessible to internet users. However, during times of civil unrest, the government has been known to restrict access to social networks and other websites. Nevertheless, internet freedom remained largely uninhibited in the past year, and the country's internet is considered 'free', according to FreedomHouse. As of September 2018, the most popular search engines in the country by market share were Google (91.69%), YANDEX RU (4.61%), Mail.ru (1.66%), Yahoo! (1.06%), bing (0.81%) and DuckDuckGo (0.09%). As for browsers, the most popular ones were Chrome (61.89%), K-Meleon (16.33%), Safari (7.04%), Firefox (6.41%), Opera (2.08%) and Samsung Internet (1.36%).
E-commerce market
E-commerce is developing in Armenia due to the expanded use of the internet, credit cards and online banking. According to the last available data, in 2015 the IT market volume reached US$ 345 million comprising 61% of ICT industry's total. However inconsistent and inequitable application of customs duties is still an impediment to this development. E-commerce has not yet penetrated deeply into the country. Online purchased items were food products, followed by jewellery and accessories, souvenirs, clothing, and household appliances. Many people continue to prefer cash payments, and in many locations postal services are not robust enough. One of the leading supermarket chains in the country has recently launched their e-commerce website, and other companies are following the trend. Other policies have been adopted, such as taking advantage of the HayPost arrangements for international delivery, and customs' personal consumption duty waiver. Online banking is becoming increasingly popular and Armenians are becoming accustomed to these types of financial services, which may help further develop e-commerce. In B2B e-commerce, the top sectors in Armenia are the ICT and finance & banking, which have well-developed infrastructure and content for business users and provide quality services. Some examples of popular e-commerce startups are iPhone.am, Salesboom.am, Menu.am, Biglemon.am, Nout.am. Armenian consumers also use Amazon, Aliexpress, Ebay and other international websites for purchasing household appliances, books, mobile phones and computers, clothes and footwear, goods for children and perfumes, as these online products tend to be less expensive. According to the Central Bank of Armenia's Statistics Department, the total volume of overseas e-commerce in Armenia was approximately US$ 8.1 million between 2017 Q2 and 2018 Q1. 

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Because of the embargo of Turkey and Azerbaijan, goods to Armenia and from Armenia should transit using the Georgian route. Goods from or bound to Europe and beyond enter or exit the Georgian ports of Batumi and Poti. Therefore, mainly road transportation is used until Georgia, when sea transportation is then used.
Ports
Ministry of High Tech Industries, Republic of Armenia
Airports
Zvartnots International Airport (main airport located at Yerevan)
Erebuni airport
Shirak airport (serving gyumri province)
Sea Transport Organisations
Ministry of High Tech Industries, Republic of Armenia
Air Transport Organisations
General Department of Civil Aviation
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of High Tech Industries, Republic of Armenia
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry of High Tech Industries, Republic of Armenia

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
For the resources for businesses on managing the manufacturing and the supply chain risk due to the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, please consult the report COVID-19: Managing supply chain risk and disruption (Deloitte Canada, 2020), as well as the insights on COVID-19: How to fortify your supply chain (Kearney, 2020).
The World Economic Forum's COVID Action Platform provides useful information on the latest strategic trends regarding COVID-19 implications for businesses, including manufacturing and supply systems. The report Outbreak Readiness and Business Impact (World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute) offers insights on handling coronavirus by businesses and strategies for effective response and resilience.

Armenia's industrial sector contributes 45% to the GDP. Agriculture, IT sector, Electronics and Precision Engineering, Mining, Chemical and Pharmaceuticals, Jewelry and Diamonds processing, Textile and Clothing constitute the main industries.

Armenia's IT sector receives significant attention as a possible growth industry. It currently employs between 3,500 and 4,000 people. Besides, productivity is high and wages low in comparison with Europe and the USA, and the level of education is quite high, thus making this sector quite competitive.

The clothing sector shows also great prospects. Cheap labor, existing factories and a positive trade regime (including free access to CIS markets) create favorable conditions for investment in light industries like textiles, carpets, footwear and apparel.

Construction has been the leading sector of the economy for the past six years. The sector accounts for 26% of the country's GDP. Growth in construction is mainly driven by an increased demand for higher quality housing funded primarily by remittances. Diaspora Armenians seeking a base in Armenia have also significantly contributed to the sector's demand.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
All.biz - Armenia - Directory of companies in Armenia
Armenian BD - Armenia's business directory
Armenian business directory - SPYUR
 

To search directories by industry in Armenia, check out our service Business Directories.

 
Professional Associations by Sector
1 professional associations listed for Armenia.
 
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Armenia
General Professional Associations
Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen of Armenia
 
 

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Latest Update: April 2022