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TIRANA (Albania), November 11 (SeeNews) – Albania’s economy has seen a sizeable rise in the percentage of firms exporting their products in 2019, the Work Bank said in an enterprise survey of the EU-candidate Balkan country.
Some 15% of firms in 2019 directly exported at least 10% of their sales to international markets, compared with 9% in the last survey conducted in 2013, the global lender said in a press release late on Friday.
“Albania is now at the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) average on this rather stringent measure of exporting activity,” the bank added.
For this 2019 Albania data release, business owners and top managers in a representative sample of 377 firms operating across different sectors and regions were interviewed from January through May.
“The survey shows that firms in 2019 are performing better than they did in 2013, namely the real annual sales growth is considerably higher, and so is the annual employment growth,” the Worl Bank said, adding that firms are twice more likely to invest in fixed assets than in 2013 - a rather significant sign of the positive general outlook of the private sector.
However, labour productivity is still stagnating, thus constraining firms to grow further and create more jobs.
“This survey shows how Albanian enterprises are adapting to business environment challenges and upgrading their capacities. To overcome skill mismatch, Albanian enterprises hire more workers, invest more in training their workers and innovating their business products or processes,” the World Bank said.
According to the results of the survey, 18% of firms introduced a process innovation in 2019, as opposed to 4% in 2013.
As many as 42% of firms in 2019 reported introducing a new product or service, as compared to 10% in 2013 while ECA average is 29%. The percentage of firms that invest in research and development increased from 1% in 2013 to 15.4% in 2019.
“On the other hand, the general measures of perception of corruption and bribery show increases compared to previous survey,” the bank noted.
It pointed out, however, that surveys on perceptions of businesses need to be interpreted carefully and aggregate survey results need to be broken down. “For example, the share of firms that name corruption as their top obstacle, the change since 2013 is rather small. Also, many responses suggest improvements.”
The survey data show that the share of firms reporting corruption in the process of securing government contracts decreased from 40% of firms in 2013 to 15% in 2019.
“In addition, corruption in the process of obtaining construction permits has dropped from 32% percent of firms reporting this in 2013 to 17% in 2019. The set of specific interactions where the perception of corruption has increased are: during tax administration, process of obtaining import licenses, in obtaining electrical and water connections.”
The business environment in Albania can significantly benefit by continuing reform progress in the justice system, governance and public service delivery, education, infrastructure, and access to finance, the World Bank said.