The Republic of Albania had a population of 3.057 million residents as of July 1, 2019. This country is located in the southeastern parts of Europe. It is bordered by Montenegro, Greece, Kosovo, and North Macedonia. Albania occupies an area of 11,100 square miles. Its capital city, which is also the country’s economic hub, is referred to as Tirana. Until the year 1990, Albania was a Communist nation possessing a centralized economy. Afterward, the country’s economy transitioned into a free-market. Today, Albania is among the world’s leading producer and exporter of chromium, copper, nickel, and coal.
Albania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of December 2016 was growing at 2.8%, had a trade balance of -9.7%, and the unemployment rate standing at 14.7%. The economy of Albania is mainly driven by sectors such as services (54.1%); agriculture (21.7%) and industrial (24.2%). With regards to exports, Albania exported goods amounting to 7% of its overall GDP in 2018. The country-specific data for the year 2017 indicate that 89.9% of the goods exported from Albania ended up in Italy (53.4%); Serbia (9.4%); Kosovo (7.7%), Spain (5.6%); Greece (4.2%); Germany (4%); North Macedonia (3.1%); China (3.1%); Montenegro (1.8%), Romania (1.7%); USA (1.3%); Bulgaria (1.1%) and Hungary (1.1%).
Leading Export Partners Of Albania
The leading export partners of Albania are Italy, Serbia, Kosovo, Greece, and Germany with specific details of their trading relations discussed below;
Trade with Italy
Italy is the leading export partner of Albania. These two countries share close and long historical and cultural ties. One of the ways that the countries have maintained a flourishing trading partnership is through the establishment of an exclusive economic zone between them. Exports from Albania to Italy include footwear, clothes, electronic equipment, iron and steel, mineral fuels, construction metals, and aluminum. According to the United Nations’ COMTRADE database, the value of the international trade exports from Albania to Italy was worth US$ 1.38 billion in the year 2018. During this year, the highest value of exports to Italy from footwear, apparel not knitted, and apparel knitted amounted to 461.4 million, 212.78 million, and 191.37 million respectively.
Trade with Spain
Statistics held by the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade show that the exports from Albania to Spain in the year 2018 amounted to US$ 223.94 million. Most of these exports were footwear, apparel, mineral fuels, oils, fish, meat, leather, iron and steel, raw hides and skins, oilseed and fruits. Out of these products, the main export from Albania to Spain is oil, followed by footwear and exports.
Trade with Kosovo
Albania and Kosovo have long historical ties with the number of Albanians living in Kosovo being around 90% of the country’s entire population. In fact, Albanian is the official language of Kosovo. Albania’s exports to Kosovo include mineral products, machinery, appliances, and electric materials, processed food, beverages and tobacco, metals, and chemical products. Out of these products, the highest value of exports was iron, fuels, and construction materials. The total value of the exports to Kosovo in 2018 was US$ 245 million which was a 30% increase from the value of exports in 2017.
Trade with Greece
There is a high number of immigrants from Albania living in Greece. Apart from being one of its leading trading partners, Greece is the largest foreign investor in Albania. The most common goods exported from Albania to Greece are articles of iron or steel whose value for the year 2018 has been put at US$ 2.23 billion by the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. Much as Albania and Greece enjoy relatively good trade relations, they have had a history of conflicts such as the Cham issue and the religious freedom issues for the Greek minority living in Albania. Most recently, the discussions of a “Greater Albania” have led to the country being seen as a threat in the economic region.
Trade with Germany
Albania exports approximately 4% of its total exports to Germany. In 2018, the country exported goods worth US$ 122 million to Germany that translated to a 24% increase compared to 2017 exports. Consequently, Germany is among the largest investors in Albania known for its critical role in supporting the accession of Albania.
Challenges Faced By Albania In Its Business Relations
Much as Albania is a favorite investment destination for most foreign countries, the country also contends with several challenges. The first challenge is the widespread corruption practices in Albania which have resulted in difficulties for investors as it has made the country’s investment climate unfavorable. Secondly, it is quite difficult to obtain land titles for construction projects in Albania due to a corrupt court system as well as unscrupulous actors in the real estate industry. Thus, countries that deal with construction materials are often affected by fluctuations in the pricing of products within the industry due to these adverse practices.