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ANCA-WR Hails Signing of Historic California-Armenia Trade Office Bill

PASADENA, CA – Less than two weeks after the California State
legislature voted in both chambers in favor of establishing a
California international trade and investment office in the
Republic of Armenia, Governor Gray Davis signed the bill into law
this afternoon in the State Capitol. The signing of Senate Bill
1657, introduced by Senator Jack Scott(D-Pasadena) earlier this
year was the culmination of a three year grassroots effort by the
ANCA-WR and over ten local ANC chapters to establish formal trade
relations between the Republic of Armenia and California.

“The establishment of the trade office initiates a new era in the
way California does business with overseas markets. It is the
first time California has ventured into the former Soviet Union
with an official trade presence, and there is no better place to
establish that than in the Republic of Armenia – a fast growing
economy with strong ties to California and on the traditional
crossroads of the trade routes where East meets West,” said Steven
J. Dadaian, Chairman of the ANCA-WR at a joint teleconference with
the Governor in Senator Scott’s district office in Pasadena. Also
participating in the conference call was the Counsel General of
Armenia, Valery Mkrtumyan.

California will now become the first state in the United States to
have a trade presence in Armenia. Armenia, which in 1991 gained
its independence from the Soviet Union, was the first former Soviet
Republic to privatize agriculture and continues to privatize small
businesses and state-run enterprises. Since independence, the
Republic has shown steady positive economic growth while
maintaining a stable currency. It has been hailed as a model
democratic republic in the region and represents the ideal location
for a California trade office.

“California will be gaining inroads to a large area with excellent
economic potential,” commented Senator Scott after the Governor
signed his bill into law. “This California-Armenia partnership,
combined with California’s large Armenian community, will create
many positive opportunities — in business, trade, investment,
education and tourism,” the Senator added.

“The ANCA-WR commends Governor Gray Davis for signing Senator
Scott’s bill, SB 1657 into law. The passage of this bill marks a
significant step forward in the economic partnership between
California and the Republic of Armenia. The office’s success will
be a model for other trade offices to follow,” stated ANCA-WR board
member Berdj Karapetian.

Mr. Karapetian accompanied Senator Scott on an exploratory mission
to Armenia earlier this year to study the feasibility of
establishing a trade office in the Republic. During the trip to
Armenia, Senator Scott and ANCA-WR representatives met with
business and industry leaders in Armenia to discuss potential areas
of cooperation. Potential for trade and the exchange of ideas was
identified in the areas of information technologies, bio-tech,
agriculture and tourism.

Armenia has made significant advancements in computer technology
and telecommunication, which can open new markets for California’s
high-tech and biotech industries.

The idea of a California Trade Office in Armenia has been
considered by the State Legislature for more than 3 years and
contributed to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between
California Governor Gray Davis and Armenia’s Foreign Minister
Vartan Oskanian in November of last year. The ANCA-WR pushed for
the establishment of a trade office as the next natural step to
improve trade and investment between Armenia and California.

Unlike other current trade offices, the California-Armenia trade
office not only requires a comprehensive evaluation of its success
but will require new authorization by the State for its operation
beyond January 1, 2006. The study of the office’s economic impact
on trade, investment and tourism in California and the Trans-
Caucasus region would be a model for other current and future trade

The State of California currently has trade offices in Germany, the
United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, the Republic
of South Africa, Taiwan, and Japan.

There are some seven million Armenians throughout the world,
including over one and a half million in the United States. There
are over 500,000 Armenians and Armenians of American descent living
in California, with the largest concentrations living in Glendale
at 70,000; Pasadena at 15,000; and Fresno at 25,000.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest
and most influential Armenian American grassroots political
organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices,
chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and
affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively
advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad
range of issues.

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