Enio Jaço, the President of American Chamber of Commerce in Albania has pointed at the “huge gap” in attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) between Albania and other countries in the Western Balkans, and called for genuine reforms.
Speaking at the Tirana Economic Forum on Thursday, Jaço said that whilst Albania dropped 19 places in the last World Bank’s Doing Business Report, even if it would have gained a couple of places it wouldn’t have changed much.
“That’s because we are 82nd, Montenegro is 50th in the global ranking, Kosovo is 57th, Serbia 44th and Macedonia is 17th. So we have a huge gap between our placement and the first in the region, which is North Macedonia, or even the second. In this sort of soft regional competition, you have to be first or second, even third or fourth wouldn’t do,” Jaço stated.
Considering its small market, Albania cannot be the focus of foreign investments. Investors can only see it as part of the whole region. Hence, Albania needs to have a better environment and framework for attracting investments as compared to other countries in the Western Balkans.
He argued that the Albanian economy and GDP are facing downward pressures with the two major infrastructure projects coming to an end – TAP and Devoll, – November 26 earthquake reconstruction program and lowering business revenues. These challenges can be overcome if Albania’s great potential in developing its economy, and specifically in attracting FDIs, are exploited and “a real and meaningful investment reform” is undertaken, according to Jaço.
The reform should not be done for the sake of rankings, he added, but for a genuine economic development. Albania’s favorable geopolitical location, excellent relationship with USA, access to ports and major trade routes, young population, western friendly culture, networks of commercial chambers, and international partners are great assets the government could use in developing efficient investment reform, Jaço concluded.
This is not the first time that Jaço calls for better policies and the need for reforms to attract foreign investments. About two months ago he blamed high levels of corruption and taxes, as well as Albania’s low regional ranking in all business-related reports as the reason for lack of investments.
The US State Department Annual Investment Climate Report for 2019 also found that bad business climate made foreign investors leave Albania, adding that ““Albania is now perceived as the most corrupt country in the Western Balkans.”