Economy of Albania

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Economy of Albania
5000 lek obverse.jpg
5000 Lek banknote
Currency Lek (ALL)
Calendar year
Trade organisations
GDP Increase$32.259 billion (PPP, 2015), $14.520 billion (Nominal, 2015)[1]
GDP rank 96th (PPP, 2013 est.)[2]
GDP growth
Increase2.6% (Real, 2015 est.)
GDP per capita
Increase $11.700 (PPP, 2015 est.)[3] $5.260 (Nominal, 2015)
GDP by sector
agriculture: 18.4%, industry: 16.3%, services: 65.3% (2014 est.)
Decrease2.0% (CPI, 2012 est.)
Population below poverty line
14.3% (2012)[4]
34.5 (2008)[4]
Labour force
1.280 million (2014)
Labour force by occupation
Agriculture: 18.4%, Industry: 16.3%, Services: 65.3% (December 2014 est.)[4]
Unemployment 17.3% (2015 est.)[4]
Average gross salary
385 € / 430 $, monthly (2015)[5]
Main industries
perfumes and cosmetic products, food and tobacco products; textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
97th (2016)[6]
Exports Decrease$2.008 billion (2015)
Export goods
textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Main export partners
 Italy 42.8%
 Kosovo 9.7%
 United States 7.6%
 China 6.1%
 Greece 5.3%
 Spain 4.8% (2015)[7]
Imports Decrease$4.498 billion (2015)
Import goods
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals
Main import partners
 Italy 33.4%
 China 10%
 Greece 9%
 Turkey 6.7%
 Germany 5.2% (2015)[8]
Public finances
Negative increase$8.782 billion (December 2014)[4]
Revenues Increase $3.3 billion (Budget 2014)[9]
Expenses Increase$4.50 billion (Budget 2014)[9]
Economic aid recipient: ODA: $366 million (top donors were Italy, EU, Germany) (2003 est.)
Standard & Poor's:[10]
B (Domestic)
B+ (Foreign)
BB+ (T&C Assessment)
Outlook: Positive [11]
Foreign reserves
Decrease$2.825 billion (December 2015)[4]
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

The economy of Albania has undergone a transition from its Communist past into an open-market economy since the early 1990s. The country is rich in natural resources, and the economy is mainly bolstered by agriculture, food processing, lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydro power, tourism, textile industry, and petroleum extraction. As of 2014, exports seem to gain momentum and have increased 300% from 2008, although their contribution to the gross domestic product is still moderate (the export of products per capita as of 2014 is around $1,136.


The collapse of communism in Albania came later and was more chaotic than in other Eastern European countries and was marked by a mass exodus of refugees to Italy and Greece in 1991 and 1992. The country attempted to transition to autarky, but this eventually failed badly. Attempts at reform began in earnest in early 1992 after real GDP fell by more than 50% from its peak in 1989. Albania currently suffers from high organised crime and corruption rates.

The democratically elected government that assumed office in April 1992 launched an ambitious economic reform program to halt economic deterioration and put the country on the path toward a market economy. Key elements included price and exchange system liberalization, fiscal consolidation, monetary restraint, and a firm income policy. These were complemented by a comprehensive package of structural reforms including privatization, enterprise, and financial sector reform, and creation of the legal framework for a market economy and private sector activity. Most agriculture, state housing, and small industry were privatized. This trend continued with the privatization of transport, services, and small and medium-sized enterprises. In 1995, the government began privatizing large state enterprises. After reaching a low point in the early 1990s, the economy slowly expanded again, reaching its 1989 level by the end of the decade.[12]


Albanian Riviera is famous for its olive and citrus plantations

Agriculture in Albania employs 47.8% of the population and about 24.31% of the land is used for agricultural purposes. Agriculture contributes to 18.9% of the country's GDP.

The main agricultural products in Albania are tobacco, figs, olives, wheat, maize, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes, meat, honey, dairy products, and traditional medicine and aromatic plants.

Oil and gas[edit]

Oil drilling in Mallakastra, Albania

Albania has the second largest oil deposits in the Balkans (after Romania) and the largest onshore oil reserves in Europe. Albania's crude output amounted to more than 1.2 million tonnes in 2013, including 1.06 million by Canada's Bankers Petroleum, 87,063 tonnes from Canada's Stream Oil and 37,406 tonnes by Albpetrol on its own. Three foreign firms produced the rest.[13]


Main article: Tourism in Albania
Beach in Himarë on the Albanian Riviera

A large part of Albania's national income comes from tourism. Tourism - as of 2013 - funds 10% of its gross domestical product, and this is expected to increase. The increase in foreign visitors is dramatic but very low compared to other European nation just like its neighbour Greece, with Greece having an estimated 25 million tourists visiting in 2014. For its economy to grow its tourist numbers need to increase. Albania had only 500,000 visitors in 2005, while in 2012 had an estimated 2.2 million tourists, an increase of 540% in only 7 years. In 2014 the number of tourists increased by 20% for 2014 as well. Albania is rich in archaeological heritage from Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman times, unspoiled beaches, mountainous topography, delicious traditional Albanian cuisine, Cold War era artifacts, unique traditions. Hospitality, low prices, and the wild and peculiar atmosphere of the countryside makes Albania a growing tourism destination for many tourist mainly from Eastern Europe.


Main article: Transport in Albania
A1 Nation's Highway in Northern Albania.

Transport in Albania has undergone significant changes in the past two decades, vastly modernizing the country's infrastructure. Improvements to the road infrastructure, rail, urban transport, and airports have all led to a vast improvement in transportation. These upgrades have played a key role in supporting Albania's economy, which in the past decade has come to rely heavily on the construction industry.

Macro-economic trends[edit]

This is a chart of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Albania in national currency (million leks) and in US dollars based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) from estimates by the International Monetary Fund.[14]

Year GDP,
million leks
million US$–PPP
US$ exchange
rate, leks/$
Inflation index (2000=100)
1980 17,411 4,836 9.49 5.10...
1985 18,896 6,891 8.58 5.10
1990 18,840 8,233 9.01 5.10
1995 251,843 8,108 92.79 55
2000 530,906 11,483 143.68 100
2005 836,833 16,944 100.19 121
2007 982,179 18,818 103.34 124

For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US dollar is exchanged at 49 leks (2007 estimate).[14] Mean wages were $3.83 per man-hour in 2009.

Albania is a middle income country by Western European standards, with GDP per capita greater than the several countries in the region. According to Eurostat, Albania's GDP per capita (expressed in PPS – Purchasing Power Standards) stood at 35 percent of the EU average in 2008. Unemployment rate of 13.3% is considerably lower than many countries in Balkans, For Example, Serbia has an unemployment rate of 24%.[15]

Albania Export Treemap, 2012

Results of Albania's efforts were initially encouraging. Led by the agricultural sector, real GDP grew by an estimated 11% in 1993, 8% in 1994, and more than 8% in 1995, with most of this growth in the private sector. Annual inflation dropped from 25% in 1991 to single-digit numbers. The Albanian currency, the lek, stabilized. Albania became less dependent on food aid. The speed and vigour of private entrepreneurial response to Albania's opening and liberalizing was better than expected. Beginning in 1995, however, progress stalled, with negligible GDP growth in 1996 and a 9% contraction in 1997. A weakening of government resolve to maintain stabilization policies in the election year of 1996 contributed to renewal of inflationary pressures, spurred by the budget deficit which exceeded 12%. Inflation approached 20% in 1996 and 50% in 1997. The collapse of financial pyramid schemes in early 1997 – which had attracted deposits from a substantial portion of Albania's population – triggered severe social unrest which led to more than 1,500 deaths, widespread destruction of property, and an 8% drop in GDP. The lek initially lost up to half of its value during the 1997 crisis, before rebounding to its January 1998 level of 143 to the dollar. The new government, installed in July 1997, has taken strong measures to restore public order and to revive economic activity and trade.

Albania is currently undergoing an intensive macroeconomic restructuring regime with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The need for reform is profound, encompassing all sectors of the economy. In 2000, the oldest commercial bank, Banka Kombetare Tregtare/BKT was privatized. In 2004, the largest commercial bank in Albania—then the Savings Bank of Albania—was privatised and sold to Raiffeisen Bank of Austria for US$124 million. . Macroeconomic growth has averaged around 5% over the last five years and inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment.

The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Energy shortages because of a reliance on hydropower, and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and lack of success in attracting new foreign investment. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to improve transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.

Pasture in Albania

Reforms have been taken especially since 2005. In 2009, Albania was the only country in Europe, together with San Marino and Liechtenstein, to have economic growth; Albanian GDP real growth was 3.7%.[16] Year after year, the tourism sector has gained a growing share in the country's GDP.[citation needed]

Data published as of July 2012 by the National Institute of Statistics, INSTAT, show the economy contracted by 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of the year - a downturn blamed mainly on the eurozone debt crisis.[17]

The informal sector makes up a portion of the economy, although its share remains unclear due to its secretive nature.[citation needed]

External trade[edit]

Albanian exports in 2006

However, reforms are constrained by limited administrative capacity and low income levels, which make the population particularly vulnerable to unemployment, price fluctuation, and other variables that negatively affect income.[citation needed] The economy continues to be bolstered by remittances of some 20% of the labour force that works abroad, mostly in Greece and Italy. These remittances supplement GDP and help offset the large foreign trade deficit. Most agricultural land was privatized in 1992, substantially improving peasant incomes.[citation needed] In 1998, Albania recovered the 8% drop in GDP of 1997 and pushed ahead by 7% in 1999. International aid has helped defray the high costs of receiving and returning refugees from the Kosovo conflict. Large-scale investment from outside is still hampered by poor infrastructure; lack of a fully functional banking system; untested or incompletely developed investment, tax, and contract laws; and an enduring mentality that discourages initiative.[citation needed]


Macroeconomic indicators[edit]

GDP (PPP): $32.259 billion[1] (2015)

GDP per capita (PPP): $11.700[1] (2015)
country comparison to the world: 95

GDP - real growth rate: 3.5% (2011)
country comparison to the world: 109

Inflation: 3.5% (2010)
country comparison to the world: 114

Unemployment: 13.3% (2010 est)
country comparison to the world: 141


Industrial production growth rate: 3% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113


Products: wheat, maize, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, sugar beets, grapes; meat, dairy products

Foreign trade[edit]

Exports: $3.1 billion (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

Imports: $5.8 billion (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120

Import partners: Italy 45.6%, Greece 7.8%, Turkey 7.4%, Germany 5.6%, Switzerland 5%, China 4.2% (2014)

Remittances: $600 million (2014 est.)

Current account balance: -$1.704 billion (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152

Foreign exchange reserves: $2.479 billion (2008)
country comparison to the world: 103


Electricity – production: 5.201 billion kWh (2009)
country comparison to the world: 113

Electricity – production by source:

  • fossil fuel: 2.9%
  • hydro: 97.1%
  • other: 0%
  • nuclear: 0% (2007)


  • Consumption: 6.593 billion kWh (2009)

country comparison to the world: 102

  • Exports: 0 kWh (2009)
  • Imports: 1.884 billion kWh (2009 est.)


  • production: 24.000 barrels per day (3.8157 m3/d) (2014)

country comparison to the world: 94

  • consumption: 36,000 barrels per day (5,700 m3/d) (2009)

country comparison to the world: 107

  • exports: 748.9 barrels per day (119.07 m3/d) (2005 est.)
  • imports: 24,080 barrels per day (3,828 m3/d) (2007 est.)
  • proved reserves: 199,100,000 barrels (31,650,000 m3) (January 1, 2008)

Natural gas

  • production: 30 million m³ (2006 est.)

country comparison to the world: 84

  • consumption: 30 million m³ (2006 est.)

country comparison to the world: 108

  • exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
  • imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
  • proved reserves: 849.5 million m³ (January 1, 2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 100

Exchange rates[edit]

  • Lekë per US dollar: 79.546 (2008), 92.668 (2007), 98.384 (2006), 102.649 (2005), 102.78 (2004), 121.863 (2003), 140.155 (2002), 143.485 (2001), 143.709 (2000), 137.691 (1999)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". 2006-09-14. Retrieved 2014-10-07. 
  2. ^ "GDP per capita, PPP (current international $)", World Development Indicators database, World Bank. Database updated on 16 December 2014. Accessed on 20 December 2014.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The World Factbook". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  5. ^ " - INSTAT, rritet numri i të punësuarve në ekonomi dhe pagat në Shqipëri". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Doing Business in Albania 2016". World Bank. 
  7. ^ "Export Partners of Albania". CIA World Factbook. 2015. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  8. ^ "Import Partners of Albania". CIA World Factbook. 2015. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  9. ^ a b March 2014 "Official government budget for 2014" Check |url= value (help) (PDF). Ministry of economics of Albania , Page 3. 
  10. ^ "Sovereigns rating list". Standard & Poor's. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Nina Byalkova. "S&P cuts Albania's long-term ratings to B, outlook negative - SeeNews The corporate wire". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "What We Do". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "INTERVIEW-Albania to auction 13 blocks for oil exploration". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  14. ^ a b "Edit/Review Countries". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Albania's GDP per capita in PPS (2008)" (PDF). Eurostat. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  16. ^ "CIA – The World Factbook – Country Comparison :: National product real growth rate". CIA Factbook. Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  17. ^ "Albanian Gloom About Economy Worsening". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bitzenis, Aristidis, and Leslie T. Szamosi. "Entry Modes and the Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment in a European Union Accession Country: The Case of Albania." Journal of East-West Business 15, no.3-4 (2009): 189-209.
  • Feilcke-Tiemann, Adelheid. "Albania: Gradual Consolidation limited by Internal Political Struggles". Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 6, no. 1 (2006):25-41.

External links[edit]