Armenia’s decision to join the Russian-led Customs Union was framed by the promise of future economic bounty. But for many Armenians, the move into that future may have to be made without wheels.
When Armenia enters the bloc, a development now expected in 2015, higher customs duties will push up the retail cost of imported cars by at least 50 percent, Armenian analysts predict. That not only will place a burden on most consumers, it also is likely to inflict damage to the economy of Armenia’s northern neighbor, Georgia. Via its Black-Sea ports and the Rustavi bazaar for re-exported cars, the region’s largest, Georgia accounts for 70 percent of the cars imported into Armenia, according to Armenia’s Customs Service. In 2013, cars from Russia accounted for only 5 percent of the 40,000 vehicles Armenia imported.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan.