The American Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Justice have joined hands with a shared goal—to combat corruption, recognizing it as a key factor influencing the business climate and investment growth. Reflecting on the economic landscape from the perspective of a foreign investor, the President of the American Chamber metaphorically characterized the situation as a “glass half full,” underscoring the need for collective commitment to navigate this challenging process. “The business index has shown improvement, with several positive indicators indicating progress perceived by the business community. We, as partners, are committed to contributing to the development of policies fostering a sustainable business environment,” stated AmCham President Grant Van Cleve. This positive trend is substantiated by the AmCham Business Index presented by Executive Director Neritan Mullaj, showcasing an increase to 43.42 points from 41.43 a year ago.
The Anti-Corruption Forum presented a strategic roadmap to the American Chamber audience, outlining the Ministry of Justice’s initiatives in the fight against corruption and the supporting structures. There is a noticeable convergence between the business community and the Ministry of Justice regarding the low statistics of reported cases, emphasizing the necessity for both informing and raising awareness within the business sector. Deputy Minister of Justice Adea Pirdeni, in her opening remarks, highlighted, “Reporting corruption is challenging, and situations often arise where businesses collaborate for mutual benefit. By elevating discussions to the level of business organizations, we not only acknowledge the issue but also empower businesses to confidently report abusive cases.”
The panel discussion, moderated by Albana Karapanco, Chair of the Legal, Regulatory, and IPR Committee, underscored the influential role of committees in shaping legal processes to create an effective structure for combating various forms of corruption. Rovena Pregja, Director of the Anti-Corruption Program at the Ministry of Justice, provided a detailed insight into the Ministry’s strategy. Meanwhile, Edvin Simo, Director of the Anti-Corruption Coordinators Network, outlined procedures for reporting and denouncing abusive cases.
Examining the issue of corruption from a business and legal standpoint, Ened Topi, Vice-Chair of the Legal, Regulatory, and IPR Committee, stressed the importance of unified structures for efficient collaboration in the fight against corruption, recognizing the significant value of coherent information from businesses.
During the panel discussion, Adrian Shehu, Chair of the Trade and Investment Committee, emphasized that a half-full glass gains value from the hope for better expectations. Member businesses of the Chamber, as indicated by the Business Index, have demonstrated a growing positive perception of the business climate, rated at 4.77 points. This positive sentiment is attributed to the results of the Justice Reform and the diligent prosecution of corrupt cases in accordance with the law. Nevertheless, institutional coordination is deemed necessary to avoid redundancy in their efforts and to create space for insights and comments from businesses in implementing practices aimed at enforcing the law.
Business Index Generates a Positive Indicator for 2022
The AmCham Business Index for 2022 was assessed at 43.42 out of 100, showing an increase of +1.99 points compared to the previous year. This marks the second consecutive year of growth for the central index. Over the 11-year span covered by this Index, there has been stability in indicators, but it has not shown strong and anticipated progress. The central Index has consistently remained below the 50-point mark out of 100, indicating that it is below the average level.
Primary Business Concerns
The Index ranks indicators based on their point levels, from those with the highest values to those with the lowest, thus revealing the most significant concerns. In 2022, members rated the following indicators with low scores:
Finding qualified vendor staff,
Monopoly and unfair competition,
The focal point of concerns this year, for the second consecutive year, is the workforce, placing it second on the list of AmCham business concerns. “Finding qualified vendor staff” tops the list of issues perceived as problematic by Chamber members. The indicator has decreased by (-1.40) points, dropping to a level of 23.06 points. Another decrease is noted in the “Total employment change” indicator, which has dropped to 52.69 points from 55.23, marking a decline of (-2.59).
Staying with indicators that have not positively influenced the Index and have reflected dissatisfaction among member businesses, this pertains to the group of indicators expressing economic trends. This indicator, supported by the “Demand for goods and services” or “Investment” indicators, has experienced a decline compared to the previous year:
“Performance of the Albanian economy” -1.05 points
“Demand for goods and services” -0.39 points
“Total investment” -0.45 points
Relations with Institutions, Improved Indicators
It is worth noting figures and indicators that have received positive attention from respondents by surpassing the 50-point threshold. Businesses appear more confident in their relationships with institutions with which they have significant work interaction:
Relations with Taxation +2.18 points
Relations with Customs +0.75 points
Relations with Ministries +0.77 points
The “Corruption level,” has improved by 3.18 points. Not only this indicator but also others related to it have reflected a positive increase in the perception of members.
“Implementation of laws and regulations” has been rated with a slight increase of +1.95.
“Relationship with the Courts” has a small increase of (+0.12).
“Private Property” has shown a positive increase of (+2.23), and “Intellectual Property” with (+1.18), indicating that these business climate parameters are beginning to be perceived positively.