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Connect Albania program, a new mechanism to invest in Albania

IOM Albania launched Connect Albania, an innovative online investment-boosting program that will be utilized for the first time in Albania. Connect Albania Program will engage as Development Agents the members of the Albanian Diaspora all over the world, with a particular focus, in its first phase, on the Albanian Diaspora living in Italy, considering that IOM Albania Diaspora Programme is funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Through this mechanism Albanian Diaspora will attract the foreign investments to their home country. The successful Development Agents will be rewarded upon the completed investments that is considered successful based on the approved regulation.

In her opening remarks Ms. Alma Jani, the Head of Office of IOM Albania.  “Albanian Diaspora is becoming increasingly important for the development of Albania and there is the need now to support new ways of promoting diaspora to retain their connection to Albania and contribute to its economic and social growth.

In addition, a digital interface is created: www.adbc.al/connect-albania. The web application provides a comprehensive information for Connect Albania Program, a set of unique sectorial and legislation information on how to register a business in Albania, strategic areas to be investment and other useful information for Albanian Diaspora and interested potential investors abroad.

To become a Development Agent, the Albanian Diaspora members should apply on the digital interface of the mechanism. After the Development Agents are registered and authorized as interested development agents in the online mechanism, they will have access to detailed and dedicated sectorial and legislation information that will guide them through the investment process. https://www.adbc.al/en/become-a-development-agent/

Connect Albania was launched online on 18 December, 2020, on World Migrants Day and National Diaspora Day.

The first online launching event, organized for the Albanian Diaspora and Italian entrepreneurs, mainly from the North Italy,  was attended by H.E. Mr. Pandeli Majko, Albanian State Minister for Diaspora; H.E Mr. Eduard Shalsi Minister of State for the Protection of Entrepreneurship, Ms. Vasilika Vjero, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Finance and Economy, Mr. Sokol Dedja, Deputy Minister of Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mr. Nino Merola, Representative of AICS in the Western Balkans; Ms. Alma Jani, IOM Albania Head of Office, Representatives of diplomatic missions, Diaspora Engagement Institutions.

Connect Albania is crucial part of the programme “Engage the Albanian Diaspora to the Social and Economic Development of Albania” is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Albania, the UN Migration Agency, with funding from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in coordination with the Albanian State Minister for Diaspora, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance and Economy through Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA).

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Albania has always had a strong link with Italy. The excellent relations between the two countries are based on deep historical, geographical, cultural, and economic foundations. These relations have further solidified by the presence in Italy of over 500 thousand citizens of Albanian origin.

The Italian Cooperation has been present in Albania since 1991. According to Albanian Institute of Statistics, the trade with Italy represents 36.2% of the total volume of trade. In 2018, 48% of Albanian exports were directed to Italy while Albania imported 27.3% of total imports from Italy. There are more than 700 small and medium-sized Italo-Albanian companies in the Albanian territory.

Over the years, the Albanian government has been engaged in creating a favorable business climate by approving a series of fiscal and legislative reforms, which, together with the free trade agreements for free access of Albanian products in the main EU markets, aim to attract potential investments and entrepreneurs, whose interest has grown in a wide range of sectors, such as: manufacturing, agro-industry, renewable energy, health, tourism and new technologies. In addition, speaking about “new technologies”, Albania, after France and Malta, is one of the few countries in Europe to adopt “Blockchain” technology in a fully regulated framework and compliant with EU directives in the financial sector. It is estimated that, in the next ten years, the “technological innovations” in relation to the use of smart contracts and the Blockchain will revolutionize all sectors and markets for entrepreneurship.

Despite the temporary slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the World Bank, the Albanian economy will recover in 2021 with a growth rate of around 8%, thus continuing the positive trend of the last 10 years, during which, the country has experienced extraordinary growth. According to “Growth Lab” Center for International Development at Harvard University, since 2013, per capital growth has accelerated, obtaining an annual GDP in constant growth, around 3.5% on average. Overall, the Country has macroeconomic stability, supported by a banking and financial market that has shown solidity and ability to resist crises.

The close links with the EU market, the advantages of free trade agreements with EU, EFTA agreement, CEFTA membership , investment incentives offered by the Albanian government, competitive land prices, low labor costs, national and European financial support schemes and favorable fiscal policy are some of the economic advantages of Albania for the foreign investments.

Moreover, especially today, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, Albania, for the EU countries and Italy in particular, represents a real opportunity in the European Economic Region because it is the gateway-country towards the Balkans, also because labor costs are quite competitive. The global pandemic has shown some vulnerabilities that now demand a change of perspective by reshaping the current global business model, which will probably involve the reorganization of some supply chains, which will become more regional.