Buying and Selling

flag Albania Albania: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier

 

Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
International Economic Cooperation
Member of the IMF, the World Bank and the Council of Europe.
Non Tariff Barriers
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.


Customs Classification
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.
Import Procedures
Each product imported must bear a product description in Albanian for foodstuffs, and in Greek, Italian or English for non-food products. The General Directorate of Accreditation is 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 and terms of delivery (the sales contract for the good is optional), transportation documents (CMR, BL, AWB), VAT number of the importer, import authorisation for certain goods.

When going through Customs, you must fill out a declaration of goods. The Customs agent controls the goods and calculates the Customs duty. Certain products require a license, including those associated with the military or other strategic sectors, radioactive material and drugs. You must apply to the Ministry of Defence or the Ministry of Health to obtain an import authorisation. It is obligatory to describe the sanitary characteristics of food or medical products. Drugs and medical equipment must be registered with the National Centre of Drugs and Medical Equipment to be imported into the country.

For more information, please visit the Albanian Customs website.

 
 
For Further Information
Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA)

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
Per capita income in Albania has risen steadily for a decade, however the population still enjoys a low level of salaries by European standards. In 2019, the GDP per capita was USD 5,353 according to the World Bank (latest data available). Though accurate statistics for market-size are not generally available, the country has a growth rate of private consumption which is constantly rising (in constant prices).

The country remains a predominately cash economy and credit cards in Albania are used mainly in major grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and department stores. The use of debit cards has increased significantly in recent years, but it is still used more for withdrawing money rather than making payments.
Consumer Behaviour
For Albanian consumers price is a decisive, primordial factor in the purchasing process and they actively seek bargains. Prices are set by the market with a few exceptions, such as electricity, which is regulated.  The government also defines the margin of various entities in the distribution chain of pharmaceuticals.

Albanian consumers are sensitive to advertisement. All forms of media, including television, newspapers, magazines, radio, and outdoor billboards are used, however television remains the predominant medium. To a lesser extent, trade shows, sales promotion literature, and event sponsorship are also used to advertise goods and services. Trade events and fairs are effective promotion channels for industrial products.

Sales support and customer service are relatively undeveloped as marketing tools, nevertheless providing such services can determine a plus. E-commerce is in its infancy with only a limited number of domestic merchants offering this option in Albania.
Consumers Associations
Albanian Consumer Association
Main Advertising Agencies
Vatra
Ogilvy Group
Manderina

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Small private shops, many of which offer Italian and Greek goods, dominate the retail sector, although retail chains, including supermarket chains Spar and Conad, have proliferated in recent years.  As well, Inditex, which owns brands including Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, and Stradivarius, entered the market in 2014.  Other large retailers include Megatek (DIY), GoTech, Globe, and Neptune (electronics and appliances).  The first shopping mall (QTU) opened in 2005, followed by City Park shopping mall in 2009. Tirana East Gate (which houses Spar and Inditex) opened in 2011, followed by Ring Shopping Mall, in 2015. Toptani Shopping Mall opened recently in central Tirana. Shopping malls have opened in other major urban areas in Albania. Capital goods and specialized equipment are normally sold directly to manufacturers and businesses.  When selling capital goods or equipment to businesses, an agent is essential.  Consumer-oriented trade shows are also an important part of the retail scene in Albania.
Market share
Foreign companies wishing to enter the Albanian market and distribute goods can find a considerable number of merchants, agents, intermediaries, wholesalers and retailers in Albania. The country has a multitude of distribution channels and most major players have entered the Albanian market in recent years. The majority of the trade goes through the port of Durres, which handles more than 90% of the maritime trade. Albania also has two smaller ports: Vlore in the south and Shengjin in the north. Land-based trade can be cleared at border crossing points with Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo or Montenegro.

Smaller private shops, many of which offer Italian and Greek products, dominate the retail sector, although retail chains, including the Big Market, Spar and Conad supermarket chains, have proliferated in recent years. On the other hand, Inditex, which owns brands like Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka and Stradivarius, entered the Albanian market in 2014. Other major retailers include Megatek (DIY), GoTech, Globe and Neptune (electronics and appliances). The first shopping centre (QTU) opened in 2005, followed by the City Park shopping centre in 2009. Tirana East Gate (home to Spar and Inditex) opened in 2011, followed by Ring Shopping Mall in 2015. Toptani Shopping Mall opened in the centre of Tirana. Other shopping centres have opened in important urban areas in Albania outside of Tirana, including Durres, Fier and Elbasan.
Retail Sector Organisations
Albania International Chamber of Commerce
Ministry of Economy Albania

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E-commerce

Internet access
As of December 2017, there were 2.9 million people in Albania, out of which 1.93 million were internet users, making the penetration rate 65.8%. When it comes to how they access the internet, 48% of Albanians use computers (laptops and desktops), 49% use mobile phones, 3% use tablet devices and 0.03% use other devices. Compared to the previous year, there was a 13% drop in computer users. At the same time, there was an increase of 19% in mobile phone internet users, a 21% drop in people who access the internet through their desktops and a 200% increase in 'other devices' usage. Albania is one of the only countries in Europe that doesn’t have a neutral Internet Exchange Point. There are ongoing government efforts to improve broadband availability and access conditions throughout Albania. However, fixed line and broadband penetration remains very low by international standards. As mobile network infrastructure improves, consumers continue to prefer this platform for voice and data services, and as a result the mobile sector will be the focus for future growth in the overall market. In 2017, 69.3% of Albanians had mobile-broadband subscriptions, while 41% of households had internet access at home. As of September 2018, the most popular search engines in the country by market share were Google (96.27%), Yahoo! (2.38%), and Bing (1.15%). As for browsers, the most popular ones were Chrome (68.45%), Safari (18.43%), Firefox (4.25%), Samsung Internet (3.47%), Android (1.48%) and Opera (1.25%). 
E-commerce market
There is no public data available about e-commerce in Albania. There is only a limited number of domestic merchants offering the option of e-commerce in the country. Albania is still a cash based economy and credit cards are not commonly used outside of major hotels, restaurants and department stores. To promote their use, local banks have started to introduce special discounts on various consumer goods in partnership with companies. Cross-border internet shopping is in its early stages, and it's still not disseminated, especially due to the low use of credit cards, low purchasing power and the high cost of shipping. Additionally, many online merchants do not ship to Albania. In 2016, the government reduced the duty free amount from EUR 150 to 22, which significantly reduced cross-border online shopping. Even though e-commerce is still developing in the country, there are some popular e-commerce shops in Albania. Some of the most popular ones include Megatek, 123.al, and EBuy.al. The most popular product categories bought online are electronic devices, followed by clothes and shoes, books and cosmetics. Albania’s telecommunications infrastructure is perceived as an obstacle to expansion of the e-commerce market. According to the World Bank, a significant  number of Albanian companies have reported that inadequate and costly telecommunications services hamper business.

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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.
Ports
Durres Port Authority
Airports
Tirana Airport
Sea Transport Organisations
Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy
Air Transport Organisations
Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy
Road Transport Organisations
Directorate of road transport
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
For the resources for businesses on managing the manufacturing and the supply chain risk due to the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, please consult the report COVID-19: Managing supply chain risk and disruption (Deloitte Canada, 2020), as well as the insights on COVID-19: How to fortify your supply chain (Kearney, 2020).
The World Economic Forum's COVID Action Platform provides useful information on the latest strategic trends regarding COVID-19 implications for businesses, including manufacturing and supply systems. The report Outbreak Readiness and Business Impact (World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute) offers insights on handling coronavirus by businesses and strategies for effective response and resilience.

Industrial sector accounts 20% to the GDP.

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.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Dun & Bradstreet - Worldwide directory with financial information on businesses
Yellow pages of Albania - Albania's business directory
 

To search directories by industry in Albania, check out our service Business Directories.

 
Professional Associations by Sector
16 professional associations listed for Albania.
 
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Union of Chamber of Commerce and Industry
 
 

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Latest Update: July 2022