SACRAMENTO – On Thursday February 14, State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge) introduced SB 302 to reestablished the California-Armenia Trade Office. In 2005, the original trade was established through legislation by former State Senator Jack Scott, the Schwarzenegger administration later terminated it in 2008.
Senator Portantino and co-authors Senator Scott Wilk, Senator Henry Stein, Senator Scott Wiener, Senator Melissa Hurtado, Assembly member Autumn Burke, and Assembly member Evan Low, hope to build a vibrant business relationship between California and Armenia. Several of these co-authors attended the September Tech Trade trip to Armenia.
Through this legislation, Senator Portantino hopes to capitalize on the trade trip’s positive momentum with establishing the trade office. California is home to one of the largest Armenian populations outside of the capitol Yerevan, Armenia. The 25th Senate District represented by Portantino has the largest Armenian population of any state legislative district in the state. “There is so much excitement and optimism in Armenia under the leadership of Prime Minister Pashinyan and in California under Governor Newsom that we should capitalize on the moment and formalize a positive economic relationship with Yerevan. I was a young politician sitting in the audience when the Jack Scott Bill was signed and I am very pleased to be in a position to help bring it back,” commented Portantino.
Consul General Armen Baiboutian and Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan Joined Portantino
Consul General Armen Baiboutian and Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan joined Portantino in Sacramento to introduce SB 302. Dr. Armen Baiboutian made his first trip to the State Capitol while serving his second term as Consul General representing Armenia in Glendale.
On Friday February 15, Dr. Armen Baiboutian was formally recognized on the State Senate and the State Assembly floor. “There is truly an important development for both California and Armenia. We have long-wanted to re-establish the trade office and are very grateful to Senator Portantino and his colleagues for authoring this promising proposal. I know it will be well received by the Armenian Community in California and business and political leaders in Yerevan,” added Consul General Baibourtian.
In September, Portantino, Stern Sinanyan and the ANCA completed a tech trade trip to Yerevan and Gyumri. The trip was Portantino’s second trip to Armenia. Attending Senators and Assembly members were introduced to many facets of the Armenia tech and education communities in Armenia’s two largest cities. The goal of the trip was to strengthen economic ties between California and Armenia. During his first term in the Senate, Portantino established the Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia, and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange. Establishing the trade office is a natural extension of these efforts. “Our community in California is igniting a renewed optimism toward the Armenian economy, something Senator Portantino witnesses first hand. We are lucky to have him championing and fostering this formalization effort. Now, the responsibility falls upon all of us to ensure its success. I am confident that the trade offices will lead to mutual economic and social benefit,” commented Mayor Sinanyan.