Albania, CEFTA and the creation of a free trade area

In the framework of regional integration, Albania was initially involved in bilateral free trade agreements with countries in the region, which joined on the CEFTA 2006 agreement, signed on December 19, 2006, in Bucharest, Romania.
The main purpose of CEFTA was the creation of a free trade area between the signatory countries, which meant expanding and accelerating trade in goods and services, attracting and promoting foreign direct investments, eliminating trade barriers between the parties, harmonizing competition rules, protecting intellectual property rights, as well as integrating the region into the global market.
The process of regional integration under CEFTA, functions as a connecting bridge that accelerates the European integration of each of the member countries. Members of the CEFTA 2006 are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Moldova. On January 1, 2019, Albania took over the presidency of CEFTA.

The business community described it as an opportunity to influence the elimination and mitigation of trade barriers, mainly non-tariff ones between member countries, with the impact of promoting regional trade. About 25% of CEFTA trade is interregional trade and about 75% is for the rest of the world, mainly for the EU markets. According to the 2019 statistics, trade exchanges between Albania and CEFTA countries exceeded the value of 750 million Euros, in which the share of imports reaches 40% and exports 60%. The positive trend of trade exchanges in 2014-2018 has experienced an annual increase to the level of 6%. On December 2009, in Tirana, during CEFTA week, the European Commission signed a Grant of 10 million Euros for CEFTA members, to promote further regional economic integration. The main objective of the Grant is to support the CEFTA agenda in the trade of goods and services, as well as e-commerce, helping to promote regional economic integration. During 2020-2023, this project will support more than 1200 SME in the entire Western Balkans region, to improve export potentials, entry into new markets, attraction of foreign investments.