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Albania

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are defined as legal entities that are entirely state-owned or state-controlled and operate as commercial companies in compliance with the Law on Entrepreneurs and Commercial Companies. SOEs operate mostly in the generation, distribution, and transmission of electricity, oil and gas, railways, postal services, ports, and water supply. There is no published list of SOEs.

The law does not discriminate between public and private companies operating in the same sector. The government requires SOEs to submit annual reports and undergo independent audits. SOEs are subject to the same tax levels and procedures and the same domestic accounting and international financial reporting standards as other commercial companies. The High State Audit audits SOE activities. SOEs are also subject to public procurement law.

Albania is yet to become party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) of the WTO but has obtained observer status and is negotiating full accession (see  https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/gproc_e/memobs_e.htm  ).  Private companies can compete openly and under the same terms and conditions with respect to market share, products and services, and incentives.

SOE operation in Albania is regulated by the Law on Entrepreneurs and Commercial Companies, the Law on State Owned Enterprises, and the Law on the Transformation of State-Owned Enterprises into Commercial Companies. The Ministry of Economy and Finance and other relevant ministries, depending on the sector, represent the state as the owner of the SOEs. SOEs are not obligated by law to adhere to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines explicitly. However, basic principles of corporate governance are stipulated in the relevant laws and generally accord with OECD guidelines. The corporate governance structure of SOEs includes the supervisory board and the general director (administrator) in the case of joint stock companies. The supervisory board comprises three to nine members, who are not employed by the SOE. Two-thirds of board members are appointed by the representative of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and one-third by the line ministry, local government unit, or institution to which the company reports. The Supervisory Board is the highest decision-making authority and appoints and dismisses the administrator of the SOE through a two-thirds vote.

10. Political and Security Environment

Political violence is rare, the more recent instances being an attempt led by a former Albanian leader designated by the USG for corruption to breach a party headquarters in January 2022 that required police intervention and political protests in 2019 that included instances of civil disobedience, low-level violence and damage to property, and the use of tear gas by police. Albania’s April 2021 elections and transition to a new government were peaceful, as were its June 2019 local elections. On January 21, 2011, security forces shot and killed four protesters during a violent political demonstration. In its external relations, Albania has usually encouraged stability in the region and maintains generally friendly relations with neighboring countries.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Albania’s labor force numbers around 1.2 million people, according to official data. After peaking at 18.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014, the official estimated unemployment rate has significantly decreased in recent years. In December 2021, unemployment reached 11.4 percent compared to 11.8 percent at the end of 2020 marking an improvement following the economic disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment among people aged 15-29 remains high, at 20.6 percent. Around 40 percent of the population is self-employed in the agriculture sector. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), share of informal employment in the employed population was almost 57 percent in 2019, the highest in the region.

The institutions that oversee the labor market include the Ministry of Finance, Economy and Labor, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the National Employment Service, the State Labor Inspectorate, and private entities such as employment agencies and vocational training centers.  Albania has adopted a wide variety of regulations to monitor labor abuses, but enforcement is weak.

Outward labor migration remains an ongoing problem affecting the Albanian labor market especially in the IT and health sector. There is a growing concern about labor shortage for both skilled and unskilled workforces.  In recent years, media outlets have reported that a significant number of doctors and nurses have emigrated to the European Union, especially Germany. According to the World Bank, Albania has the lowest number of doctors per capita in the region with just 1.647 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants in 2019. In December 2021, the average public administration salary was approximately 70,531 lek (approximately USD 650) per month. The GoA has announced it will increase the minimum wage by 6.5 percent to 32,000 lek per month (approximately USD 300) in April 2022, which remains the lowest in the region.

In March 2019, parliament approved a new law on employment promotion, which defined public policies on employment and support programs. Albania has a tradition of a strong secondary educational system, while vocational schools are viewed as less prestigious and attract fewer students.  However, the government has more recently focused attention on vocational education. In the 2020-2021 academic year, about 19,000, or 18.5 percent, of high school pupils were enrolled in vocational schools.

The Law on Foreigners 79/2021 that was approved in July 2021 and various decisions of the Council of Ministers regulate the employment regime in Albania.  Employment can also be regulated through special laws in the case of specific projects, or to attract foreign investment.  The Law on TEDA’s provides financial and tax incentives for investments in the zone. Law on Foreigners extends the same employment and self-employment rights of Albanian citizens to citizens of the five Western Balkan countries and provides the same benefits that the original law provided to the citizens of EU and Schengen countries.

The Labor Code includes rules regarding contract termination procedures that distinguish layoffs from terminations.  Employment contracts can be limited or unlimited in duration, but typically cover an unlimited period if not specified in the contract. Employees can collect up to 12 months of salary in the event of an unexpected interruption of the contract. Unemployment compensation is approximately 50 percent of the minimum wage.

Pursuant to the Labor Code and the recently amended “Law on the Status of the Civil Employee,” both individual and collective employment contracts regulate labor relations between employees and management.  While there are no official data recording the number of collective bargaining agreements used throughout the economy, they are widely used in the public sector, including by SOEs. Albania has a labor dispute resolution mechanism as specified in the Labor Code, article 170, but the mechanism is considered inefficient. Strikes are rare in Albania, mostly due to the limited power of the trade unions and they have not posed a significant risk to investments.

Albania has been a member of the International Labor Organization since 1991 and has ratified 54 out of 189 ILO conventions, including the eight Fundamental Conventions, the four Governance Conventions, and 42 Technical Conventions. The implementation of labor relations and standards continues to be a challenge, according to the ILO.

See the U.S. Department of State Human Rights Report: https://www.state.gov/reports-bureau-of-democracy-human-rights-and-labor/country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/; and the U.S. Department of Labor Child Labor Report: http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor  .

14. Contact for More Information

U.S. Embassy Tirana, Albania
Rruga Stavro Vinjau, Nr. 14
Tirana, Albania
+355 4 224 7285
USALBusiness@state.gov  

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