TIRANA (Albania), October 18 – Albania’s economy continued to strengthen after a strong second quarter driven by foreign direct investment and exports, adding jobs to the labour market and supporting the country’s finances, EU Candidate Countries’ & Potential Candidates’ Economic Quarterly (CCEQ) report said.
Albania’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded marginally by 4.1% year-on-year in the second quarter from a revised 4% in the previous three months, the report said on Tuesday. It dynamics was supported by a growth in investments of 14.3 %, backed by foreign direct investments, while net exports also contributed, fuelled by a 22 % rise in services, including tourism and transport. Construction recorded the highest growth, of 22.7 %, reflecting the peak of investments in the energy sector.
Unemployment, which is generally high for the Western Balkan, declined by 1.6 pps to 14.3 % in the second quarter, compared to the previous quarter, whereas youth unemployment declined by 3.4 pps to 26.4 %.
Low inflation remains a key characteristic of the Western Balkans, reflecting low commodity prices and exchange rate stability. Albania’s annual consumer price inflation stood at 1.6% in August and September, still below the central bank’s 3% target. The regulator has kept its key policy rate at a historic low of 1.25% since May 2016.
Bank lending continued to be supportive of growth in the Western Balkans. However, Albania and Serbia are still recording the highest non-performing loan ratios in the region – 15–16 % of total loans, the report said.
In the first eight months, budget revenues and expenditure rose more vigorously, and the budget recorded a small surplus, of close to 0% of GDP.
The report also said that continued fiscal discipline is necessary in a number of countries to rebuild fiscal buffers and reduce public debt which is especially high in Albania, at 66.9% of GDP