Albania and Turkey sign a deal on free trade

Albania and Turkey sign a deal on free trade

IBNA Special Report

Tirana, December 19, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

Albanian and Turkish authorities have agreed in Tirana to boost their collaboration by extending the agreement for free trade. From now on, free trade also includes services and investments and it will soon include agriculture.

This was agreed during the meetings that the Turkish Economy Minister, Nihat Zeybecki is holding in Tirana during an official visit. After the meeting with the Albanian Minister of Economy, Arben Ahmetaj (photo), the latter said that “we agreed on extending the agreement on free trade in the domain of services and investments”. He added that during 2015, the agreement will also extend to agriculture.

In the bilateral meeting, the Turkish minister said that Albania is Turkey’s strategic partner in the Balkan.

“I believe that Turkey’s and Albanian’s commercial and economic potentials must not be limited inside their territory, but they must expand. This is why we, Turkey, encourage our investors to invest in Albania, because we see Albania as a strategic partner country in Albania. We see Albania as a partner in logistic, production and everywhere”, said Mr. Zeybekci.

As far as the agreement for free trade is concerned, Mr. Zeybekci said: “For us, this means friendship without borders, an agreement without borders”. Meanwhile, he added: “We’re very good friends, we’re brothers, we have old historical ties, but we must also have a very good partnership in economy too”.

The declarations of the Turkish official were strengthened by Mr. Ahmetaj when he said that “Turkey is an important country and market for Albania and its economy”.

The minister underlined that collaboration between the two countries must grow even more and demanded more investments by the Turkish side in energy, logistics, infrastructure, trade, agriculture, etc.

In order to deliver these, the sides appointed a work group which must meet every month. One of the tasks of this work group is to bring business people from both countries together, in order to improve their relations.

Experts believe that the extension of the agreement on free trade is a big step in opening each other markets for the respective companies.

According to them, the free trade agreement for a wide range of products, will be an important step in encouraging Turkish investors to invest in Albania.

They expect the same thing to happen for Albanians who want to invest in Turkey, but this is seen with skepticism, because there’s little interest of Albanians to invest in Turkey, mainly due to financial reasons.

For 2014, Turkey is the fourth trade partner for Albania and the sixth partner in terms of investments. What needs to be mentioned is the growing interest of Turkish investors for Albania.

Trade volume between the two countries in the past ten years has increased by four times. Currently, there are around 300 companies that work in Albania and their general investments amount to 1 billion USD.

In Albania, Turkish companies bought the telephone giant Albtelecom, mobile phone operator Eagle, the second largest bank in the country, the former metallurgic plant, etc.

Meanwhile, a significant number of Turkish companies have expressed their interest in the domain of energy, telecommunication, banking system and financial system.

Albania has advantages in the domain of renewable energy and many Turkish companies have expressed their interest to invest in this domain in Albania. /ibna/