Italy and Albania – Business Perspective of Cooperation and More

Italy and Albania relationship has been a perennial theme of debates in the Albanian foreign policy. Even though points of view may differ, there is no denial of the fact that Italy is close to Albania because of so many reasons. These include foreign direct investment, security factors, cultural links and migratory patterns. Therefore, bilateral cooperation with Italy has been a primary agenda of the post-communist Albanian governments.

Italy has been one of the main investors in a wide range of Albanian firms. In a meeting in Tirana, Italy has confirmed to be a part of thirty-five percent of Albanian trade. Italian exports have increased by 21%, whereas imports went up by 10.8% in the recent years. This indicates constant growth, leading to a gradual strengthening of investments in Italy. Furthermore, this development is affirmed by 2008 trade figures that show the first semester of Italian exports rose by 12.7% and imports by 5.5%. Simultaneously, major Italian banking groups have come into the scene acting as a stimulus to the growth of Italian investments in Albania.

Development is also seen in the infrastructure sector. In fact, Albanian government has announced its willingness to provide concessions to the foreign firms. The European Union has reserved $212.9 million for the same via its IPA.

Contribution in the Energy Sector

Tops producers like the Marseglia Group, is planning to develop an electrical energy plant in Albania. This is going to be a billion euro project. Moreover, it is likely to be the world’s greatest plant in the sector. Other Italian companies like ENEL and Terna are also looking for business opportunities in Albanian energy sector.

Giorgio Napolitano, the former President of Italy again visited Tirana in March, 2014. There, he met the President, the Speaker and the Prime Minister. Also, he held a meeting with the communities residing in Tirana. On 10th March, both the governments came together to sign an agreement related to energy cooperation, which promotes interconnection as well as integration of electric energy alongside natural gas. This was a crucial decision for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, transferring natural gas from Greece through Albania and then the Adriatic Sea to Italy, reaching Western Europe in the last.

In Support of Growth of the Private Sector

Private sectors in Albania can be supported by directly financing the larger SMEs. Local banks as well as microfinance institutions can provide funding to the SMEs. The Italian government is recently working on the facility that aims at enhancing the access of business in local banks financing and agricultural sector. It is believed that this sector has a lot of untapped potential for employment as well as growth. The government is putting all these efforts in utilizing this potential with the help of National Guarantee Fund. And through this fund, they are working with the financial institutions in order to build an Agri business Financing Facility.

Justice and Home Affairs

To obtain significant results in mitigating illegal trafficking from Albania, both judiciary and police matters has been collaborated. However, bilateral cooperation was strengthened with signing of two new agreements in the year 2007. The agreements were made against crime and they were ratified by Albania.

On 20th December 2014, Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, visited Albania and met the Albanian PM, Edi Rama and the President, Bujar Nishani. The meeting was conducted to sign an agreement recognizing pensions. PM Renzi’s speech during the meeting confirmed that Albania is Italy’s ally and that Italy supports integration of Albania in the European Union.

On 13th October, 2016, Laura Boldrini, the President of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy, visited Tirana to support the integration and the judicial reform passed by the Parliament.

Recent Cooperation in the Field of Education

Recently, on 24th February, 2017, a new agreement, namely, “Education and Professional training through Innovation” was signed between Italy and Albania in Tirana in the presence of Blendi Klosi, the Minister of Social Welfare and Youth along with the Italian Ambassador, Alberto Cutilo.

By cooperating in all the above mentioned sectors, Italy is creating a thriving business sector in Albania. Not only the industrial sector, but an equal contribution in the judiciary and education will help the country to become more resilient to different factors, including economic elements.

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