Albania Lures Italian Investors with Low Taxes
Albanian Daily News
Published February 20, 2018
Albania offers a pro-business environment with low effective tax rates, while a series of bureaucratic procedures are being reduced, making the country attractive to foreign investors, and Italian investors in particular, Prime Minister Edi Rama said in his speech at the Albania-Italy Business Forum, which brought together over 350 participants including 200 companies, 14 industrial associations and three banks Tirana on Monday.
The Italy-Albania Business Forum was preceded by the launch of the first Italy-Albania trade mission aimed at increase the already well-established economic cooperation between the two countries and to expand business and investment opportunities for Italian businesses with a focus on three sectors in particular: agro-business, energy and infrastructure.
Inviting Italian entrepreneurs to invest in Albania, PM Edi Rama highlighted tourism as a priority sector.
"Albania is a rapidly growing country and a country where Italian investors will feel themselves in their own home. The Italian entrepreneurs who have already made this step could best tell what Albania offers," the Premier said.
"Albania offers advantages in terms of low taxes and reduced bureaucracy procedures. These are two things that make entrepreneurs suffer for years in Italy, while they are relaxed here in Albania. We should still keep reducing bureaucracy, whereas the tax rates are very low," he added.
The government head stated that Albania has great growth potential and offers ample investment opportunities in its energy, oil, mining, agriculture, agro-food and food-processing industries.
"But tourism is a major sector offering tremendous investment opportunities. A lot remain to be done in this area, while demand keeps growing and it is unattainable in terms of the supply. Tour operators turn down five percent of the demand," he said.
The Premier noted that Albania has adopted a very favorable legislation on tourism investments. "Over the next 5 or 10 years, tourism will be Albania's most important sector. Anyone who would invest in a 4 or 5-star hotel facilities would be exempted from paying taxes for a 10-year period. Zero construction tax, ownership, profit tax, just a 6 percent VAT rate only," he added.
PM Rama announced that government was drafting an incentives package for investments in agro-tourism based on the Italian model.
Italian ambassador to Tirana Alberto Cutillo said the presence of such a large number of Italian representatives, companies, corporations and associations confirms the fact that it is not only the Italian system trusting Albania, but the Italian entrepreneurs as well.
The Italian diplomat also voiced Italy's full support for the justice reform in Albania, saying the reform will build an effective justice system in the fight against corruption, help improve the business climate in Albania.
Ambassador also stated that Albania has the potential to become the gateway to the Balkans. "Albania can become the gateway to the entire Western Balkans. Nothing better symbolizes this than the natural gas TAP project that will put Albania into a global energy supply network. For Italian enterprises, this regional development opens up new unexplored investment opportunities," he concluded.
The Italy's Deputy Minister of Economic Development Ivan Scalfarotto, also the head of the Italian business delegation, noted that Italy remains Albania's primary trade partner, with exchanges significantly increasing over the past years.
"The trade exchanges between the two countries have increased by 80 percent over the past ten years," Scalfarotto said.
According to him, Italian investments in Albania amount to over three billion euros and more than 280 Italian enterprises operate in the Albanian market.Scalfarotto also said he personally wished for Albania to open the accession talks with the EU in 2018, saying the decision would be a result of Albania's Rama government and Italy's strong support in this direction.
Scalfarotto stressed that Albania's central position in the Western Balkans, the skilled and relatively cheap labour force and low taxes make Albania attractive to foreign investment, adding that Italian business was interested to invest mainly in agriculture, infrastructure, energy and agro-food sectors.
On his part, the Minister of Finance and Economy, ArbenAhmetaj, said that Albania is Italy's gateway to the Balkans and a broader region and highlighted some of the potential and investment opportunities of the Albanian economy.
According to Ahmetaj, the foreign direct investment performance has increased to about EUR one billion in 2017, compared to around EUR 650 million in 2012. Ahmetaj added that Albania is the region's second, after Montenegro, in terms of the share of foreign investment in GDP.
Ahmetaj stressed that Albania's economic growth is accelerating and this is also reflected in the dynamics of the country's labor market.