Idealism or Realism? - The Profits and Costs of Interim Agreement (SAA)

On 7 May 2007, AGENDA Institute and Albanian Institute for International Studies in the framework of EU Week with the support of European Commission Delegation in Albania organized the round table “IDEALIZM OR REALIZM? – The Profits and Costs of Interim Agreement (SAA).

This table brought together panelists from the Government of Albania, civil society, Chambers of Commerce, business community and academics. The discussion was focused on the Albania’s experience during the first 6 months of the implementation of the Interim Agreement which entered in force on 1 December 2006.

The opening of the activity was made by Mr. Albert Rakipi, Chairman of Board of Albanian Institute for International Studies, who presented the lines of the debate. Mr. Rakipi passed the floor to Mr. Carlo Natale, Head of Political and Economic Section of European Commission Delegation in Albania. Mr. Natale in his speech emphasized that the first months of Interim Agreement Implementation are promising, but this positive trend should be held by fully respecting the European priorities which should serve as guidelines for Albania in this process.

Mr. Ditmir Bushati, Research Director of AGENDA Institute analyzed in his speech the trend of some products which have penetrated in the European markets, by increasing the exports, and of some risked products which are subject of competitiveness for the products which are being imported in Albania from EU member states countries.

In order to profit from the liberalization process, Mr. Bushati underlined that “the government and policy-makers have the duty not only to inform the interested groups regarding the realistic expectations from the liberalization process, as well as the adoption of new rules that aim at improving the business climate, the establishment of a mutual loyal collaboration, but also conducting studies and research that would identify comparative advantages of Albanian economy in the regional, European and global markets, in the way that Albanian business and products development will not be made in a sporadic and chaotic way but should be turned into a priority of Albanian politics for the sake of transformation and real development of the country”.

Mr. Eno Trimçev, Executive Director of Albanian Institute for International Studies presented the results of a survey conducted regarding the perceptions of business in the process of European integration and its challenges.

Mr. Gjoke Uldedaj, Chairman of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tirana, expressed in his speech the necessity that the government and business community enter in a serious debate over the challenges faced by Albanian business community regarding the fulfillment of standards, implementation of rules bilateral and diagonal cumulation.

Mr. Selim Belortaja, Executive Director of Albanian Center for International Trade, emphasized in his speech the need that government should anticipate the developments mentioned some concrete cases where the business community is not even consulted by the government, a practice which is accompanied with consequences for business itself and the country.

Mr. Ilir Zhilla, President of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry Union, expressed the necessity of liberalization of movement of persons (more specifically for the business community) in the Schengen countries and in the region, especially after the signing of CEFTA which would give the Albanian business opportunity to explore the regional and European markets.

This round table served as an open forum for different actors by confronting opinions on trade liberalization process sanctioned in the Stabilization and Association Agreement.

The activity was followed with interest by printed and visual media. The participants in the activity were representatives from central institutions, diplomatic corps in Albania, representatives from civil society, business community, and media as well as representatives from student’s networks.

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