Lyon Investors Explore Opportunities
Albanian Daily News
Published March 12, 2018
"Albania offers many attractive areas in economy and tourism for foreign investors and I am pleased that Albanian and French business communities are in the same tune for a fruitful cooperation," has said Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati.
Mr. Bushati made that comment in the opening remarks at the Francophone Economic Forum, which was held in Tirana on March 9 this year with the participation of a large business delegation of the region of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, with Lyon as its center, which was made up of 60 entrepreneurs, and Albanian authorities, business representatives and other invitees.
"It is a pleasure for me to be with businessmen from Lyon known as the engine of the economic development of France at a time when there is a bilateral will to take our economic and trade relations forward," he told the audience.
France is ranked the eighth as Albania's trade partner, far behind from Italy, which has a major place being the source of one-third of Albanian imports. China and Turkey are also very active in this market. Nevertheless, as it was said in the Forum, the French exports to Albania have maintained a progressive growth of 10 to 15 percent as compared to 2010 while the French imports from Albania have almost doubled since that year. In the meantime, some well known French companies are present in Albanian market and mention can be made of such worldwide outstanding trademarks like Yves Rocher, L'Oreal, Garnier, L'Occitane, automobiles under the Peugeot, Renault, Citroën brands and dairy products of Président trademark are sold in this market. It is significant the operation of Transavia Airlines, Air France KLM Group's low-cost carrier, which inaugurated a route between Paris and Tirana on 2 July 2015.
"We are not only interested to see positively the relations with France, but they are important at this state formation stage which Albania is passing through," said the Albanian Minister. "We are in a crucial process as far as the European integration is concerned, and we believe that 2018 will be the year when a decision will be made by the EU to launch the difficult and challenging accession negotiations. Of course, it will be a long process having demands and challenges but it will create opportunities to work together in order to take forward the democratic process in the country, including the economic aspect."
Mr. Bushati took the opportunity to thank the French government, the institutions of that friendly country for the support to this process politically and in other assistance forms, and he thought that business should play an important role in such a difficult process.
He spoke of the importance for the creation of fair business like environment for the foreign businesses and in the first place for the French ones to come to Albania and make what he called a success story due to their investments
"We are in the process of improving the rule of law and every business is interested to understand not only the level of the compatibility of our laws with those of the EU, but on top of all business representatives require guarantees that the contracts and agreements expected to be signed will be interpreted in a fair way in compliance with the European right by the Albanian courts," he said, adding that Albania had the support of the relevant French institutions, which is a guarantee for the investors to see Albania as a secure country.
Further on, Mr. Bushati said Albania had some advantages as compared to the other Western Balkan countries in such fields like tourism, manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture and rural development were the country is very open not only to welcome French investments but also to cooperate with state authorities or with the Business Club. "Our task is to facilitate as much as possible the work of those investors, especially of those serious investors wishing to be present in the Albanian market."
He noted that the population of the Western Balkans countries is less than 20 million inhabitants as compared, for example, with Romania and it is considered as a small market. But, according to him, the latest developments, in which France plays a central role, have created opportunities to go forward towards a common economic space. He drew parallels with the first stages of the creation of the European Community, and the same thing could be said for the Western Balkan countries where there is a joint economic zone
He conveyed to the French business entrepreneurs the guarantees of the Albanian government and its relevant institutions to cooperate with the French business. Mr. Bushati concluded by pledging that Albania offers a lawful secure environment for the strategic investors insisting that the question of investments should be seen in complex not only as investments in Albania but on a regional scale.
Albania Draws Curiosity and Attention
The French Ambassador to Tirana, Christina Vasak expressed her pleasure for the organization of the event highlighting in her remarks the fact that it was the first time that such a large group of French businesses were in Albania to explore possibilities of cooperation.
She underscored the importance of the participation in the Forum of that large business delegation of the region of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes with Lyon as its center, which was made up of 60 entrepreneurs from all sectors like agro-food, industry, tertiary sector with some sorts of services etc. operating in a very important region of France.
"This visit is the first time for France and we are really happy because this means that Albania draws curiosity and attention," Ms. Vasak told Albanian Daily News in an interview which appeared on the same day when the Forum was held.
"The commercial relations between the two countries are multifold. For example, do you know that half of the French imports from Albania is made up of textile goods, shoes and other clothes? Also, France imports oil products from Albania because your country is rich in hydrocarbons," she said.
"Along with the perspective of reforms, which develop parallelly, and when time is ripe with the EU accession negotiations, the foreign investments will continue, particularly in energy," Ms. Vasak said, underling that the mineral resources like oil, chromium, copper, iron, nickel, coal and the hydroelectric power potential of the country raised interest for the businesses.
"The development of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will supply natural gas from Azerbaijan to the Western Europe, will help Albania's integration in the energy regional scene. France is part of this because the French company SPIECAPAG, a subsidiary of VINCI Group, has been selected to construct three lots of onshore gas pipelines as part of the TAP: one lot represents 185 km in Greece - between Kipoi and Kavala - and two lots are totaling 215 km in Albania, between Bilisht and Topoje. These gas pipes are expected to be functional at the end of 2019," said the French Ambassador.
During the Forum exchanges of opinions were held among Albanian and French entrepreneurs with the latter wanting to know more on opportunities and benefits for investing in Albania in the future. It was highlighted in different contributions that many big French enterprises like Société Generale, KLP Industrie, Idemia/Aleat, Mazars, Spiecapag etc. are already present in Albania.
Awards for Entrepreneurs Roche, Laventure, Feri
At the end of the Francophone Economic Forum proceedings, awards were distributed to some entrepreneurs among whom an award under the motivation "Successful French entrepreneur in Albania, Commerce and Industry" was given to Mr. Julien Roche, President of the France-Albania Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Another award went to Ludovic Laventure and Bora Feri, for achievements regarding applications of electronic and cell phone payments.