Albania-Canada trade: Time for more dynamism

| January 2, 2020 | 0 Comments
Albania boasts strong hydro-energy resources, including the dam at the Koman Hydroelectric Power Station on the Drini River in northern Albania. (Photo: Government of Albania)

Albania boasts strong hydro-energy resources, including the dam at the Koman Hydroelectric Power Station on the Drini River in northern Albania. (Photo: Government of Albania)

Last year marked 32 years of diplomatic relations between Albania and Canada. We are proud of this strong and consolidated partnership, as well as our achievements and are committed to further strengthening our co-operation.
Our excellent bilateral relations and shared common values, with a focus on issues such as gender equality and human rights, particularly in the protection, empowerment and inclusiveness of women and girls, are seen in the way we work together at international organizations as well. As NATO allies, we enjoy a close and successful co-operation, recently demonstrated by our contributions to the multinational peacekeeping mission in Latvia that is being led by Canada. We remain committed to close co-operation during the Albanian OSCE chairmanship in 2020.
Economic co-operation and trade exchanges are important pillars of this relationship. Between 2017 and 2018, bilateral trade increased by 40 per cent between our two countries. Our pro-active approach to economic diplomacy abroad has helped, as have reforms and our economic performance domestically, which is on the upswing. There are currently 41 Canadian companies operating in my country, mostly around Tirana, the capital. Their activity is mainly focused on wholesale and retail trade, but also in vehicle repair, information and communication services as well as hospitality, technology and science. Albanian imports from Canada are mainly machinery, equipment and spare parts (57 per cent), while food, beverages and tobacco make up 35 per cent of total imports. Albanian exports to Canada are focused mainly on building materials and metals, while we also export food, beverages and tobacco.
The relationship is positive and growing, but we would like to see more dynamism in terms of economic co-operation with Canada. To that end, we are actively working towards the finalization of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. We believe that a FIPA would support expanding and diversifying our economic co-operation. And indeed, we have a lot of areas of common interest in which closer co-operation would make sense. Albania has some wonderful natural resources, such as minerals and water and industries such as mining and energy, but it needs further investments in these areas. Canada has the experience and know-how to utilize and maximize their efficiency and consequently offer good returns on investment. Albania also boasts hydro-energy resources and its geographical position and weather provide favourable conditions for sustainable development and production of solar energy. It also has untapped wind power potential, particularly along the Adriatic Coast.
Albania has a liberal investment climate, a young and well-educated population, competitive taxation and incentives and free economic zones. Those, along with free access to large markets and macro-economic stability, are the main reasons foreign investors are attracted to Albania. Furthermore, being a Mediterranean country, Albania has a wonderful climate and a very productive soil for agriculture. We’d like to see more co-operation from Canada in this industry too, with Canada’s advanced equipment and Albania’s lower labour cost.
Albania is a country with an open society and a flourishing tourism sector. Its hot summers, mild winters and more that 300 sunny days a year allow for year-round tourism. Tourists can explore the coasts of the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. They can enjoy the beauty of sandy and pebble beaches, the rich heritage, friendly hospitality, fine gastronomy and fresh Mediterranean fish. If beaches aren’t to their liking, there’s also the Albanian Alps, with untouched nature surrounded by beautiful grasslands, lakes and rivers. Thousands of tourists flock here each year, chasing the traditional gastronomy of our ancestors.
Hence, Canadian investments in the tourism and hospitality industry would be of great mutual interest, and the proximity of Albania to the Western Balkans and Europe allows for broader opportunities in the tourism sector.
Proud of our diaspora in Canada, I remain confident of the important role the entrepreneurs among the vibrant Albanian-Canadian community will play in enhancing the economic ties between our two countries.

Ermal Muça is the ambassador of Albania. Reach him at embassy.otttawa@mfa.gov.al or (613) 236-3053.

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Ermal Muça is the ambassador of Albania. Reach him at embassy.otttawa@mfa.gov.al or (613) 236-3053.

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