Albania has become a hunting ground for Chinese companies keen to take control of prized companies such as Tirana International Airport, Bankers Petroleum and Arber Road and overlooking other important sectors such as tourism and agriculture.
In December 2014, the construction of one of the most important segments of the Arber Road was awarded to “China State Company”. The new two-lane highway is designed to link the capital, Tirana, with the isolated Dibra region on the Macedonian border through a shortcut into the mountainous area in central Albania.
In March of this year, Canada's Banker's Petroleum announced the sale of oil exploration and production rights to affiliates of China's Geo-Jade Petroleum for a price of €384.6 million.
On April 26, China Everbright and Friedmann Pacific Asset Management announced the acquisition of Tirana International Airport SHPK, which operates the Albanian capital’s major airport. The group is expected to take the administration of the airport until 2025.
While other sectors such as tourism and agriculture are being on the interest of Chinese. Recently the Chinese government has given a grant of 10 million RMB grant (1.524.088.21 USD) for agricultural machineries.
Until a few years ago, Albania was only marginally touched by Chinese investments. The interest has been growing with the going-out strategy pursued by Chinese companies in recent years.
China emerged as the second-largest trading partner for Albania during March, accounting for 7.7 per cent of the country’s total international trade, leaving behind traditional trading partners like Greece and Turkey. China is on the top export destinations of Albania being third ($130M), after Italy ($1.15B) and Spain ($168M).
China is clearly a latecomer as a global investor: the stock of its outward foreign direct investments (FDI) accounts for less than 1 per cent of world FDI stock, and lags behind the world average in terms of ratio to gross domestic product (GDP) (UNCTAD, 2009).
Nevertheless, the very rapid increase in Chinese investments abroad, which rose from US$ 5.5 billion in 2004 to nearly US$ 42 billion in 2008 (MOFCOM, 2009), is showing the eagerness of the country to invest abroad, Albania included.
“China has significantly increased its trade position with Albania, however, I think that the current level of trade is low compared to the potential that the two countries. Albania is ready to expand cooperation with China in the fields of economy, agriculture, infrastructure, construction and education. We welcome investors from China to invest in our country” said Milva
Ekonomi, minister of Economy during a recent meeting with her counterparts in China.
Albanian businesses and Investment Agency, AIDA, participated in Fair of Ningbo with products "Made in Albania" and they will participate in other similar fairs in the future since according to Ekonomi, they are a good opportunity for the exchange of information to enter Chinese market. The Minister of Economy also used this meeting to promote the free economic zones, TEDA, and tourism.
During the meeting, Minister Gao Hucheng said that China sees in Albania a very important partner in Central and Eastern Europe while he added that the economic cooperation has increased. But, he added, China considers that there is still much room for further cooperation.
“We appreciate the potentials of Albania in areas such as fasson sector, mineral industry, infrastructure and energy, as fields where China has established the first steps of cooperation. Meanwhile, the next steps and aim for further cooperation is agriculture,” said Minister Gao Huchang. Also, he said, China sees great potential for investments in Albania in the field of tourism.
This means China accepting more agricultural goods from Albania and by bringing more Chinese tourists in the country. Albania being an important economic partner in the region can serve to all Chinese enterprises to expand their activity not only in own territory but in the entire Balkans, which is yet an uncharted territory for the Chinese./AgroWeb.org/