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Economy of Albania
Bank of Albania.JPG
Currency Lek (ALL)
Fiscal year Calendar year
Trade organisations WTO
GDP $21.82 billion (2008 est.)[1] Albania's gray economy may be as large as 50% of official GDP
GDP growth 6.1% (2008 est.)[1]
GDP per capita $6,000 (2008 est.)[1]
GDP by sector agriculture: 20.6%, industry: 19.9%, services: 59.5% (2008 est.)[1]
Inflation (CPI) 4% (2008 est.)
below poverty line
12.4% (2008)[2]
Labour force 1.09 million (2006 est.)
Labour force
by occupation
Agriculture 58%, Industry 15%, Services 27% (September 2006 est.)[1]
Unemployment 12.5% official rate, but may exceed 30% due to preponderance of near-subsistence farming (2008 est.) [1]
Main industries Food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower
Exports $1.416 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Export goods textiles and footwear; asphalt, metals and metallic ores, crude oil; vegetables, fruits, tobacco
Main export partners Italy: 72.4%, Greece: 8.8%, China: 2.7% (2007)
Imports $4.844 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Import goods machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals, etc.
Main import partners Italy: 27.6%, Greece: 14.8%, Turkey: 7.4%, China: 6.8%, Germany: 5.6%, Switzerland: 5%, Russia: 4.2% (2007)
Public finances
Public debt external: $1.55 billion (2004)
Revenues $1.96 billion (2005)
Expenses $2.377 billion; including capital expenditures of $500 million (2005)
Economic aid recipient: ODA: $366 million (top donors were Italy, EU, Germany) (2003 est.)
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars

The Economy of Albania is poor-performing by Western European standards, but is making the difficult transition to a more open-market economy from its communist past.



The collapse of communism in Albania came later and was more chaotic than in other Eastern European countries and was marked by a mass movement of refugees to Italy and Greece in 1991 and 1992. They country attempted to transition to autarky, but this eventually failed. 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 highest in Europe. Reforms are taking place to fix that. [3]

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. [4]

Macro-economic trends

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.[5]

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 19,818 103.34 124

For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US Dollar is exchanged at 49 leks (2007 estimate).[5] Average wages in 2007 hover around $16–19 per day.

Albania remains a poor country by Western European standards. According to Eurostat, Albania's GDP per capita (expressed in PPS – Purchasing Power Standards) stood at 25 percent of the EU average in 2008.[6]

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 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.Lagging behind its Balkan neighbors, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. 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.

External trade

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. 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. 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.

Oil and gas

In early 2008, vast and untouched deposits of oil and gas were discovered in northern Albania. The deposits are estimated at a total of up to 2.987 billion barrels of oil and 3.014 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The announcement was made by the corporation Gustavson Associates LLC, engaged by Manas Petroleum Corporation, which has a contract with the Government of Albania to make explore the northern parts of the country for oil and gas deposits. [7]



Macroeconomic indicators

GDP (PPP): $21.82 billion (2008)
country comparison to the world: 116

GDP per capita: $6,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 131

GDP growth: 6.1% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 53

Inflation: 4% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 61

Unemployment: 12.5% (2008 est)
country comparison to the world: 137


Industrial production growth rate: 3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100


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

Foreign trade

Exports: $1.416 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141

Imports: $4.844 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119

Import partners: Italy 27.6%, Greece 14.8%, Turkey 7.4%, Germany 5.6%, Switzerland 5%, Russia 4.2% (2007)

Remittances: (from Italy, Greece and elsewhere) $800 million (2007 est.)

Current account balance: -$1.639 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137

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


Electricity - production: 2.892 billion kWh (2007)
country comparison to the world: 125

Electricity - production by source:

  • fossil fuel: 2.9%
  • hydro: 97.1%
  • other: 0%
  • nuclear: 0% (2001)


  • Consumption: 3.607 billion kWh (2007)

country comparison to the world: 116

  • Exports: 0 kWh (2007)
  • Imports: 2.8 billion kWh (2007 est.)


  • production: 6.425 barrel/day (2007)

country comparison to the world: 91

  • consumption: 30,900 barrel/day (2007)

country comparison to the world: 106

  • exports: 7.48 barrel/day (2005 est.)
  • imports: 24,860 barrel/day (2005 est.)
  • proved reserves: 199.1 million barrel/day (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

  • 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


External links


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