EBRD launches new strategy for Albania

By Ina Coretchi

The EBRD Board has adopted a new strategy for Albania, which is designed to support the country’s further development by addressing the key challenges for the Albanian economy.

The new strategy underlines the progress achieved by Albania in the recent years through policy reforms, which helped improve the overall business environment in the country and has given an impetus to the country’s ongoing EU approximation.

Sound economic policies, continued investments from abroad as well as Albania’s still limited exposure to global markets have helped to mitigate the negative impacts of the global financial crisis. Although experiencing falling exports and reduced remittances, the Albanian economy is still registering a positive dynamic, albeit at lower rate. Albania is expected to see a 3 per cent growth in 2009 and a further 1.5 per cent in 2010.

According to the new strategy, in the coming years Albania’s key challenges will be to strengthen the state institutions, to continue to improve the investment climate in the country, pursue further investments in infrastructure and to ensure further development of the banking system. Through its activities the EBRD will support the country in addressing these challenges.

The EBRD will continue to support the banking sector in Albania, providing equity and debt funding, including credit lines for on-lending to micro, small and medium-sized businesses, and energy efficiency loans, as well as risk sharing products with the view to enable local banks to increasing lending to the real economy sector.

The Bank will support further investments in infrastructure, energy and municipal and environment projects, encouraging the government to pursue further public-private partnerships and concessions in order to attract private capital.

Another EBRD priority in Albania will be to continue to support the development of the corporate sector either by lending directly to companies or via the Bank’s financing facilities such as EBRD-Italy Local Enterprise Facility and the new EBRD Western Balkans Sustainable Energy Direct Financing Facility.

Since the beginning of its operations in Albania, the EBRD has invested €545 million in various sectors of the economy, of which €55 million committed in 2009. With a strong pipeline of projects ahead, the EBRD will increase its business volume in Albania in 2010.