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Albania Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

Overview

Executive Summary

The spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus has triggered a cut in the outlook for 2020, with the Albanian economy forecast to contract 3.5%. Growth will be impacted by external weakness and restrictive domestic social distancing measures. Much needed structural reforms to rebalance the economy and raise potential growth are likely to be delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Production and export capabilities will weaken further, as will inward remittances which have funded private consumption.Risks to Albania’s short-term GDP growth forecast are heavily weighed to the downside as the COVID-19 virus spreads to Europe, with implications for household consumption, exports, foreign direct investment (FDI), and remittances. To boost the economy, the government on 25 March approved economic relief measures worth EUR370 million to help the healthcare sector and vulnerable businesses. Growing political polarisation has delayed the reopening of EU membership talks. An agreement between the government and the opposition to work on electoral reforms has the potential to reverse this polarisation, but success is contingent on EU involvement and encouragement.

Operational Outlook

A major constraint to doing business is the pervasive corruption present in the public administration. The operational environment is less difficult for large foreign companies compared with small or medium-sized domestic companies given Albania's need to attract foreign direct investment. Albania's ambition to join the EU will play a positive role because the pace of accession will be contingent on fighting corruption. The government at the beginning of April extended the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus-related lockdown until further notice, which means that public venues will remain closed and travel severely restricted.

Terrorism

Albania has seen the rise of a small radicalised Islamist community in recent years that has contributed dozens of fighters to Islamic State and other Islamist military formations fighting in Syria and Iraq. However, these groups have so far not conducted any attacks on Albanian soil and have not demonstrated serious intent to do so.

Crime

The greatest threat facing Albania's internal security comes from the influence that organised crime groups wield in the country, including close involvement with political officials and the co-option of law enforcement agencies and customs officials. Combating high-level corruption is hindered by a lack of strategy and co-ordination between law enforcement and government agencies. Law enforcement agencies remain subject to political interference, obstructing efforts to create a fully professional force.

War Risks

Albania's membership of NATO and aspirations to join the EU greatly diminish any risk of violent resolution to outstanding disputes with neighbouring countries.

Social Stability

High

Albania has been experiencing regular anti-government protests since December 2018, likely to be further fuelled by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The original protest movement comprised students protesting against increased tuition fees; however, the movement quickly integrated other causes and was joined by the opposition demanding Prime Minister Edi Rama's resignation. The protests have the potential for violence, in particular if protesters attempt to storm parliament or other government buildings. On previous such occasions, police have responded with force, using teargas and batons to disperse protesters. Foreign-owned assets or commercial property are unlikely to be directly targeted by protesters.

Natural Risks

Natural hazards must also be taken into consideration when traveling to Albania; the entire country is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding is relatively common, particularly in the northern regions.

Practical Information

Climate

Albania has a Mediterranean climate: winters are wet and mild and summers hot and dry. The center and the west of the country experience very high temperatures (40°C) in the summer due to hot winds coming off the sea. The east and the north (mountainous regions) are cooler in the summer and cold in the winter.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +355
Police: 129
Fire Department: 128
Medical Emergencies: 127

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal