Yesterday, Albanian Minister of economic development, trade and entrepreneurship Arben Ahmetaj held a press conference announcing the invitation of private foreign investors to enter into public partnership in various sectors with the Albanian government.
This is not the first time since emerging from its communist past that an Albanian government has announced its intention to attract serious foreign investment. The country’s economy, badly in need of investment and growth in virtually all sectors after decades of mismanagement, must do so if it is to convince the world that the country’s undeniable potential for growth and profit can be pursued by foreign capital and know-how. Previous efforts have been largely unsuccessful given the image, and reality, of an emerging nation still handicapped by endemic corruption and suspicion of foreign capture of national resources.
Before this latest program can have its intended success, foreign investors must perceive an Albania wherein past impediments have been minimized, political risks reduced to those that apply to investment in more mature markets, that the rule of law is more firmly in place to protect their investments should disputes arise. Changing today’s image of Albania as a risky market for foreign capital will require work by the Government, the Albanian private sector, and foreign investors. The good news is that Albania offers enviable opportunity throughout its economy, and that the are a number of local partners and unbiased outside consultants to help interested foreign capital make wise decisions. The market is ripe for serious investment, but caution is advised.
In our opinion, perhaps the most important, and difficult, decision a foreign investor must make is the identification of a capable, respected, and honest local partner. This is not as easy as it would be in the United States, Western Europe, or Japan, wherein trade associations and the like are there to separate reputable enterprises from the scam artists too often able to sell their bona fides to susceptible and/or corrupt local decision makers.
That is where the outside consultant, knowledgeable of the environment, the players, the pitfalls, can make the difference between a successful and a failed investment decision.
The consulting services of W G Walker and Associates offers would be, without question, a valuable resource for any potential investors in the region.