GLENDALE, CA — The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region took part in a luncheon meeting sponsored and hosted by State Senator Jack Scott (D-21) on Friday, June 22, 2001 at Glendale’s St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church to discuss the possibility of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and other trade issues between Armenia and California.
Sen. Scott, who has been a staunch advocate of strengthening Armenia-California trade ties, was joined at the luncheon by his predecessor in the State Senate and current Congressman Adam B. Schiff (CA-27), California Trade and Commerce Secretary Lon Hatamiya, State Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-44), State Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-43), Glendale City Councilmembers Rafi Manoukian and Frank Quintero. In addition to the elected officials, panelists for the two-hour event included Vahram Nercissiantz, Chief Economic Advisor to the President of Armenia, Valery Mkrtoumian, Consul General of Armenia to Los Angeles, Berdj Karapetian, Board Member of the ANCA-WR, and Steve Robinson, President of Seaborne International. Leading the discussion at the conclusion of the official program was Trade and Commerce Deputy Secretary, International Trade and Investment Chris Campana. Also present at the event were California Trade and Commerce Deputy Secretary of Economic Development Bruce R. Grogan, Under Secretary of Economic Development Alfonso Solozar, and Helene Dervishian, EDD Liaison at the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Trade and Commerce Agency.
The program began with opening remarks by Senator Scott, who thanked the public officials, as well as the attendees for their encouragement of the MOU project. Opening statements were also offered by the elected officials, who agreed that the strengthening of commercial and trade ties between Armenia and California would be beneficial to both sides. An overview of current economic conditions and systems was given by Vahram Nercissiantz, while Consul General Mkrtoumian touched on current trade opportunities, as well as related logistical issues.
ANCA-WR Board member and former Executive Director of the ANCA national headquarters in Washington, DC, Berdj Karapetian, discussed the national significance of a California MOU.
Karapetian emphasized the important role of an MOU in opening up the Caucusus to the United States, as well as opening up opportunities in California to Armenian business ventures. Karapetian pointed out that small to medium size ventures would be the clear winners in a trade-friendly and commercially strong environment. An MOU between Armenia and California, according to Karapetian, would not only strengthen the two sides’ economic ties, but it would offer a formalized relationship that would inevitably lead to the creation of a trade office.
“When the ANCA-WR initiated this process with then Senator Schiff, we recognized that the national implications of California’s action are multi-fold. We could be leading the way of access into markets in the Caucusus, as well as into Central Asia, and at the same time Armenia could serve as a crossroads in this process,” said Karapetian.
“Senator Scott and his staff are to be commended for taking the lead on this project and for bringing together community members and State officials to discuss this issue of great importance,” explained Alex Sardar, ANCA-WR Executive Director. “We are very encouraged to see Senator Scott spearheading this effort, as a means of arriving to the establishment of a California trade office in Yerevan.”