President of American Chamber of Commerce, Enio Jaço, has stated that high levels of corruption and taxes, as well as Albania’s low regional ranking in all business-related reports keep American investors away.
In an interview with the Voice of America, Jaço said that trade balance between the two countries is only $100 million, which is 2.3 time lower than that of North Macedonia. The latter has a positive trade balance, i.e. more exports than imports, while Albania has a negative one. Jaço added that US-Albania trade balance has been decreasing in the last 3 years.
Asked on factors affecting the decrease in American investments in Albania, he said that Albania is increasingly less competitive in the region and consistently ranking last among the Western Balkans countries in terms of attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs).
Jaço explained that investors look at the region as a whole when planning to invest, and competitiveness in the region is a key factor. Albania, he added, has dropped 19 places in “Doing Business 2020”, and its low ranking regionally does not make the country attractive for investors, unlike Serbia and North Macedonia.
The president of the American chamber of commerce confirmed the US State Department report’s findings that widespread corruptive practices have created an unwelcoming business environment in Albania for foreign investors. Jaço said he has witnessed cases when foreign investors have left the country because of corruption, legal or procedural barriers and government pressure to collaborate with or subcontract certain companies. He also added that Albania’s ranking last in the region in the Transparency International’s report is the result of these practices.
Jaço told VoA that taxes in Albania are as important an element as corruption is in driving investors away. Albania has the highest tax rates in the region, and it frequently changes them, which makes long term investment plans impossible.
He said the political crisis in Albania has negatively affected FDIs, and that a solution is necessary as soon as possible.
In terms of its potential to attract FDIs, Jaço said that geopolitically Albania is the most favorite country for the US, and that relations between the two are exceptionally good. The network of 210 companies represented by the American Chamber of Commerce represents a great opportunity for Albania, it makes it to the top of the regional ranking of “Doing Business”. Jaço said they were planning to launch an initiative next year that would focus on collaboration with the Albanian government to improve the business climate and strengthen the country’s position in the region in terms of attracting FDIs.