Albania: An investment option

| September 2, 2010 | 0 Comments

Though small in size and population, Albania has arguably emerged as the most dynamic economy in its region. Even in these tough economic times, Albania’s GDP has grown for the third year in a row. It grew by 7.8 percent in 2008 and 3.1 percent in 2009. Experts forecast the country will still see a 3.5 percent growth — the highest growth in Southeastern Europe — in 2010.
Both as a NATO member and, in the near future, an EU candidate, Albania is a fast-consolidating democracy with rule of law, political stability and a functional open-market economy.
Very rich in natural resources, Albania offers great opportunities for investment in oil and gas, minerals (including nickel, chromium, copper, zinc, gold, silver, iron, coal and lead). It is seeking investment for its renewable energy requirements which include hydroelectricity, wind power and solar power; for its infrastructure, including construction of roads, ports, airports, tunnels, bridges, railways and sewer systems; and for the production and distribution of water, waste recycling and processing. Canadian companies already have success stories from their investments in oil, gas and mineral exploration as well as hydropower dam construction and real estate.
The country also seeks investment in tourism, such as help in building tourist-attracting villages and resorts and also establishing ecotourism opportunities. In addition, it’s looking for information technology investment. Digital Albania, for example, is a huge project in place that aims at digitizing all levels of educational and government services by 2013.
Our expanding domestic economy and exports benefit from a low inflation rate, established trade with European Union and our geographical luck in being the gateway to the free trade Balkan area. Add to that the fact that our total labour cost, which is lower than comparable countries, is driven by a skilled and adaptable young labour force.
We specialize in on-the-spot, one-stop-shopping for granting licenses, VAT credit on machinery imports, subsidized leases of state-owned premises, and economic zones (a zone with a special economic status, either an industrial park or a free zone). Our law on concessions, and our special financial incentives for investors in tourism and energy, are also reasons to consider Albania, as is our massive privatization.
We have the lowest taxes for business in Europe, fiscal policy incentives (including a flat corporate tax of 10 percent, a flat tax of 10 percent on personal income and a tax exemption on dividends designated for investments) in a fast-growing real estate market. Taken as a package, all these incentives combine to make the Albanian market an extremely attractive, low-risk option for investors.
Albania and Canada enjoy very good bilateral relations. Canada has supported Albania in its process of political and economic reforms and has been a strong supporter of Albania’s integration into NATO. Experts in both countries are working on a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).
Good progress has been made in promoting cooperation in the field of education (at press time the Albanian minister of education and science was on an official visit to Canada) and sea transport (authorities from the Port of Durres will visit the port of Saint John in New Brunswick this fall). Successful parliamentary cooperation and economic ties should be followed by regular contacts and dialogue at high governmental levels, in order to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation.

Besnik Konci is Albania’s ambassador to Canada. Reach him at besnikkonci@yahoo.com or 613-324-1927.

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Category: Diplomatica

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