This is not an article of invest-in-albania.org. The article is written by Elona Petoshati, the Albanian ambassador to Canada and first published to Diplomat magazine. To read the original article, please click here.
Branding Albania is the newest major initiative launched by the Albanian government to promote our country’s identity in the world market. StrawberryFrog, the company that won the project through an open international competition, has already submitted its slogan, “Albania, go your own way” and is building its strategy to promote our tourism, investments and intellectual potential, along with our national identity.
Albania is largely known as the land of sunny days and long, gorgeous coastal shores. It boasts four ports and a friendly, well-educated young population. It is also rich in natural and mineral resources and biodiversity. In short, Albania offers boundless opportunity.
Although a relatively small country geographically, its location at the crossroads of water and energy corridors makes it a potential trading hub for South-East Europe. After two decades of rapid development, it has become a highly attractive, growing market with stable economic, political and legal structures, as well as a liberalised economic framework and good conditions for doing business. Its business-friendly regulatory environment complies with European Union legislation.
Albania’s economic freedom score is 66.9, making its economy 54th among 178 countries ranked in the 2014 Index. Over the past year, its overall score has increased by 1.7 points, with notable improvements in investment and trade freedom. Albania is ranked 25th among the 43 countries in the European region, and its overall score is above the world average. The implementation of wide-ranging economic reforms is also contributing to the country’s broader socio-economic development and its ultimate aspiration: accession to the European Union.
Promoting trade and tourism through economic diplomacy is at the core of Albania’s foreign service and our embassy in Ottawa is no exception in this mission.
While the overall Albanian-Canadian relationship grows ever stronger, we are focused on increasing business opportunities for Canadian companies in Albania and Albanian companies in Canada, as our diaspora here continues to grow in numbers, energy and capability. Strengthening the investment potential has resulted in an effective and close economic partnership between the two countries.
Though the volume of commercial exchange has not yet met our expectations, our job of forging closer economic co-operation is made easier by the Canadian presence in the oil and mining industry. Canada’s exports to Albania in 2012 amounted to more than $45 million, with machinery, iron and steel products, medical instruments and tools among the top exports. Canadian imports from Albania totalled $5.25 million, mainly in footwear, iron and steel products, apparel and grain. Our hope is to expand that to include authentic Albanian products, such as our fresh bio-agricultural products, special olive oils and wines, medicinal plants and handicrafts. Further, our imports from Canada could include more biogenetics, raw materials and information technology.
Beyond these modest figures and better targeting of products for our trade balance, Canada’s approach towards the Albanian market is diversifying and expanding. For the third year in a row, Canada is our largest foreign investor, with an overall contribution amounting to $850 million. Canada is now looking at Albania as a gateway to the Western Balkans and the region in general. Quite apart from the investment impact, the presence of Canadian companies such as Bankers Petroleum, Petromanas, Hydro-Québec and others helped bring along other investors.
Albania is the fourth country in South-East Europe to have successfully concluded an agreement for the promotion and protection of investments with Canada, to be signed soon. This agreement will help extend and diversify the investment potential, as both economies have many other areas in which the other country’s companies could invest and generate greater benefits for both. Canadians are known worldwide for their standards of excellence, corporate social responsibility and sustainability. I believe this is the best time for them to explore an attractive and safe environment such as ours for their investments in Albania.
Our desire to stimulate growth of co-operation and bring more Canadian investors to Albania is also based on the fact that the focus for future development of the Albanian economy will remain in attracting FDIs, especially in sectors where there is unexploited potential in terms of natural resources. We will also seek to develop sectors not yet performing to their full potential, such as renewable energy, tourism, agribusiness, infrastructure and services.
Foreign Minister John Baird’s recent visit solidified our resolve for further economic co-operation and two-way investment.
Strengthening our economic ties and opening up new trade paths with Canada wouldn’t be complete without Canadians visiting our shores, enjoying our exceptional cultural and spiritual heritage, including our three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as the diversity of flavours and tastes that make Albania an irresistible destination for tourism and a pleasant place to do business.
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