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Albania: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Albania

Punctuality is expected. Business cards are common and European practices are observed.

Anyone considering investing in Albania should bear in mind the prevalence of corruption, the presence of organised crime and the weakness of the judicial system and seek the advice of the commercial attaché at their embassy in Tirana.

Office Hours

Civil servants work Mon-Fri 0800-1600/ 1700 (finishing earlier on Fridays in the summer). Private companies tend to keep more traditionally Albanian hours, from 0800 or 0830 to 1500. Businesses are mostly open on weekdays from 0800-1700, and sometimes on Saturdays. Offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Economy

Discussing Albania’s economic history is not possible without mentioning its past communist rule. Enver Hoxha became the Albanian Communist Party head in 1941 and ruled from 1944 until his death in 1985. Before 1992, under communism, government seized control of production, agriculture and industry. Five-year plans with short-term economic goals also featured heavily during this period. After communism fell in the 1990s, Albania started reaching out for foreign aid and international investment from the United States, European Union, and International Monetary Fund. Individual investors also contributed large economic assets but unfortunately lost much of their savings in a pyramid scheme collapse in 1997. The United Nations stepped in to help keep the peace and stability.

Since 1998, the Albanian economy has stabilised and grown, thanks mainly to the expansion of the construction industry. An increase in tourist activity in many of the seaside resorts has helped to expand the service industry. The agricultural market, which employs almost half of Albania’s economic population, makes up under one quarter of the national GDP but has grown as production has diversified. The economy is further bolstered by remittances from Albanians abroad.

GDP

$13.04 billion (2018).

Main exports

Footwear, textiles, asphalt, metals, crude oil, vegetables and fruit and tobacco.

Main imports

Cars, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles and chemicals.

Main trading partners

Italy, Turkey, Greece, Germany and China.

Keeping in Touch in Albania

Telephone

City codes: Tirana 04, Durresi 052, Elbasani 0545, Shkodra 022, Gjirokastra 084, Korça 082.

Mobile Phone

Coverage is good, except in the most remote, mountainous areas. Those with European and Australian phones can buy local SIM cards, others must turn on roaming data.

Internet

Almost every sizeable town in Albania has public Internet access, usually via an Internet cafe. Some hotels, especially in Tirana, have broadband connections in the guest rooms; a few have Wi-Fi.

Media

Albania has a good diversity of print and electronic media, although the market is undeveloped which means that all privately-owned outlets are dependent to at least some extent on government advertising. Newspapers are often very partisan; indeed, some widely available papers are published by political parties, like the Rilindja Demokratike and Zeri I Popullit. Political parties, religious groups and state bodies aren't allowed to own private TV and radio stations. The Albanian Daily News and Tirana Times are English-language newspapers.

Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH) runs public TV networks, and national private television networks include Top Channel and TV Klan. There are also local television stations. There are also many local radio stations, national radio services from RTSH, and BBC broadcasting in Tirana.

Post

The Albanian postal service is not 100% reliable, although it is not especially bad either. Important documents should be sent by courier. DHL and Federal Express have offices in Tirana and a few other cities. An internal courier service called ACS operates within Albania.

Post Office hours

The central post office in Tirana is open from 0730 to 2000 Mon-Sun.