There are no non tariff barriers to import in Albania except quotas or particular controls linked to certain multilateral or bilateral agreements with other countries.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Since December 2006, most agricultural and industrial goods from the EU have been exempt from Customs duties. The maximum rate is 15%; it is applied to textiles, jewelry and some luxury products. In Albania there are 6 types of Customs rates: 0%, 2%, 5%, 6.5%, 10% and 15%. To calculate the Customs rate: VAT is indexed on the CIF (cost, insurance, freight), i.e. the value of the goods added to the duties on these goods.
Consult the DPS: the official bureau which applies the TBT: Tecnical Barriers to Trade and the SPS: Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures. These bureaux are part of the General Directorate of Standardization, which is linked to the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Energy. For further information, see the website of the Customs Service.
Each product imported must bear a description of the product in Albanian for foodstuffs, and in Greek, Italian or English for non-food products. The certification of a product is not regulated very much. It is obligatory to describe the sanitary characteristics of food or medical products. The Drejtoria e Pergjithshme e Akreditimit (The Albanian Directorate of Accreditation) is the Institution in charge of granting and verifying certifications. Note also that since 1990, Albania has followed the rules of the European Union and the WTO.
The documentation to be presented is the following: a quality certificate, a certificate of analysis, a certificate of origin and the purchasing invoice or purchasing contract.
On going through Customs, you must fill in a declaration of the goods. The Customs agent controls the goods and calculates the Customs duty. Licenses are required for some products, such as those associated with the military or strategic sector, psychoactive substances, radioactive material and drugs. You must apply to the Ministry of Defense or the Ministry of Health to obtain an import authorization.
Most Albanians buy principally basic products and price is a decisive, primordial factor in the consumer's choice.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
The Albanian population is one of the poorest in Europe; 60% of the population works in the agricultural sector. Yet the country has a growth rate of its private consumption which is constantly rising (in constant prices).
The larger towns have European-style distribution systems, with big supermarkets. Large distribution centers set up in the country are: EUROMAX, NEPTUN, and Qendra Tregtare Univers. For the rest of the country, you need to call on agents and intermediaries to set up a distribution network across the country via small independent distributors all over Albania. Note that sales support, after-sales service and customer service are not well developed. Nor are marketing tools.
Organizing Goods Transport
Main Useful Means of Transport
Goods transport can be carried out by land or sea. The biggest commercial ports are Durres and Vlora but the ports of Saranda and Shengjin also transit goods. Foreign companies often use the ports of Thessalonika and Piraeus in Greece, and Bari and Brindisi in Italy. The biggest Customs offices are in Kakavija (south), Kapshtica (east) and Hani i Hotit in the north. For national transport, there are no domestic air links and the railway network is run-down. The road network leaves a lot to be desired and some areas are only accessible by 4x4. For further information, consult the Albanian Investment Agency (AIDA) and the Institute of Transport.
Albania has considerable reserves of copper, coal, chrome and nickel. The government grants concessions to foreign companies for the exploitation of part of its metal ore reserves. The exploitation of coal and nickel mines has been privatized. In addition, the country has reserves of bauxite, phosphates and limestone which have not been exploited, as well as reserves of marble and stone which could be used in the building sector.
At the moment, in the industrial sector, the trend is towards small production lines. The sectors of agro-industry, textiles, shoes and wood have attracted a large number of small joint-ventures: textiles (37.4% of exports) and shoes (21% of exports) offer great opportunities for cooperation with foreign investors; the advantages offered by wood go from cutting to export, via the production of packaging. Albania imports 75% of what it consumes but its human (workforce) and natural (raw materials) advantages should favor the development of its industry.