Ever since Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it has shared a mutually beneficial relationship with the U.S. As a country attempting to recover from widespread poverty and corruption, the benefits Armenia receives from organizations like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are clear. Yet, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Armenia are significant in their own right.
Some of these benefits include increased stability and independence so that Armenia can resist Russian pressure and have closer ties with the Euro-Atlantic community. Both politically and economically, the U.S. has much to gain from cultivating greater stability and economic growth in Armenia.
Achieving Government Stability
Since Armenian independence in 1991, the government has struggled to maintain a stable democracy the Armenian people can trust. Fortunately, USAID is working with both the government and citizens to build trustworthy institutions that work for the people. By creating stability in the region, the U.S. benefits directly from Armenian foreign aid by gaining a trustworthy political ally in the region that champions U.S. ideals and supports U.S. goals. These are a few ways USAID is helping to achieve this goal:
- Media for Engaged Civil Public Project
One of the backbones of a strong democracy is a trustworthy media that properly informs its public. This program plans to set up a healthy media as well as media watchdogs to prevent excessive bias.
- Engaged Citizenry for a Responsible Government Project
USAID is helping to increase activity in local government and create an engaged public. Many Armenians are uninformed about their government or do not believe they can make a difference. This program aims to change that.
- Local Government Reform Activity
By helping to decentralize the Armenian government, USAID is helping to create natural checks and balances in the system and give power back to local areas.
These are just a few of the ways USAID is helping Armenia achieve a sustainable government. The U.S. plans to give just over $3 million for “Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance” as well as “Peace and Security” in 2019. In return, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Armenia through gaining a strong ally in the region that is trustworthy and stable.
The U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Armenia by Developing a Trade Partner
With greater economic stability in Armenia, the country becomes a reliable trade partner for the U.S. While GDP growth in the country has steadily been on the rise in recent years, there is still progress to be made. In 2019, more than $3 million will be allocated through USAID for the express purpose of economic development. Some of the ways USAID plans to use this money to help Armenia are:
- The Partnership for Rural Prosperity Program
Despite consistent GDP growth, Armenia still struggles in the disparity between urban centers and rural areas. This project aims to alleviate this gap by providing economic opportunities to rural regions, improving access to markets and reinforcing infrastructure.
- Agribusiness Teaching Center
This program aims to educate the Armenian public on agriculture and agribusiness while conducting research to help local farmers. As a hub for agricultural knowledge, this center will provide a strong foundation upon which to build an agricultural community.
- Tax Reform Project
This program hopes to create a more accessible dialogue between the lawmakers deciding tax rates and the citizens paying them. It also hopes to reform the tax code in a way that makes it easier for citizens to start small businesses.
Through these programs and others, foreign aid to Armenia is helping to develop a powerful ally that can work with the U.S. as a mutually beneficial trading partner. Programs such as these contribute to a strong trade relationship between the two countries, with the U.S.-Armenia Economic Task Force being an indicator of how well the relationship has developed.
Overall, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Armenia are numerous and significant. By investing in the people of this developing country, the U.S. gains a political and economic partner while helping alleviate poverty and corruption.
– Jonathon Ayers