At last year’s summit Ruben Vardanyan, impact investor, inspired us with his example of social entrepreneurship in Armenia, Russia, and the world. In many ways, Armenia provides a template for what can be done in Macedonia. This article compares Macedonia and Armenia, and points out possible business opportunities for Macedonian companies in Armenia.
Macedonia and Armenia share many similarities (see table 2 below). Both countries are similar sized, both are land-locked, both are at similar stages of development, and both share similar cultural influences. Both countries also have long and proud histories, however, both only became modern independent states in 1991. Armenia declared independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union while Macedonia declared independence with the collapse of Yugoslavia. Both countries have also both experienced some political instability in recent years. All these similarities mean that the two countries should be able to relate to each other well, which should help facilitate business and investment. Armenia is our cousin in the Caucasus.
Armenia provides Macedonian companies with some strong export opportunities. While the two countries have many similarities, Macedonia only ranks 91st in terms of imports for Armenia. However, Macedonia has the potential to dramatically increase its exports to Armenia through the following three strategies:
1. Target three of Armenia’s top five imports which are also among Macedonia’s leading global exports: Medicaments; Petroleum oil and bituminous materials (excl. crude); and Telecommunications equipment and parts (table 2). These are goods where there is strong demand by Armenia and in which Macedonia has a strong supply.
Table 2: Top 5 Imports in Armenia by value and Macedonian exports of the same good, 2017
2. Build upon existing Macedonian exports to Armenia: Medicaments, Clothing, and Footwear (table 3).
Table 3: Top 5 Armenian imports from Macedonia and total Armenian imports of the same good, 2017
3. Lastly, focus on Macedonia’s leading exports which also have a market in Armenia: miscellaneous chemicals, pumps, equipment for distributing electricity, furniture, and clothing (table 3). These are goods that Macedonia has strong exports in and that Armenia imports but the current level of trade in these goods between the two countries is small.
Table 4: Top 5 Macedonian exports and Armenian imports of the same good, 2017
Of all these highlighted goods the one that stands out is Medicaments. It is Armenia’s third largest import overall, it is already Armenia’s largest import from Macedonia (so there is a good beachhead), and Macedonia has a lot more medicaments it could export to Armenia: 90m USD exports worldwide with only 282,000 USD being imported by Armenia.
This analysis is just the beginning for increasing trade between the two countries. More detailed market analysis and cost-benefit analysis is required. However more importantly, awareness and relationships need to be built. Let us reach out to our cousin in the Caucasus and grow together.