After 22 years of the enactment of the Foreign Investment law in
1993, as amended in 2009, a new law on strategic sectors and
strategic investments came into picture. The idea was how to make
big investors happy, how to attract them through a scheme of
assistance, rather than provide incentives, as our neighbors are
doing. So, in other words, the law 'On strategic
investments' provides the procedure of application for
obtaining the status 'Strategic investors', which would
give them benefits in the first phase of their investment through
accelerated procedures of issue of licenses and permits and also
through providing additional public assets for their investment
needs. The approval of the status would give to the strategic
investor a) normal assistance and b) special assistance. The
sectors the law selects and defines as 'strategic' are,
more or less, those declared as sectors of priority in the program
of the Government. More specifically, sectors investors can obtain
the status "strategic' from are: energy and mining,
transport, electronic communications, infrastructure and urban
waste, tourism facilities, large agriculture farms and fishing,
technological and economic development zones, areas having
priority. Alternatively, any intended investment over 100 Mio EUR,
regardless of the sector is similarly eligible to benefit the
The application should be accompanied by a set of documents
including the business plan; financial sources; description of
activities; timelines for each phase; social, economic and
strategic impact assessment of the project; feasibility study;
employment rate; list of all measures, incentives and supporting
services that the investor requires from the Albanian Government;
and several statements regarding the good standing of the
applicant. The applicant shall also pay some tariffs for processing
of the application!
It appears that there have been only four investors to obtain
the status 'Strategic'; their investment altogether being
some 100 Mio EUR. Other 14 applications are in the queue for being
processed. If you see the list their investments are in the hotel
industry, dairy or agro-business, which normally are classified as
small businesses. In 2010 an amendment to the Foreign Investment
law was enacted giving foreign investors (investing 10 Mio EUR and
more) a special protection in case of property disputes (for
properties over which the investor had obtained property rights).
More specifically, the amendment said the Government would step in
and deal with third parties' claims thus releasing the foreign
investor from any obligations in respect of that claim. That
amendment was abrogated and now we hear is being reinstated
In my experience as a lawyer assisting strategic investors from
1994 to date the strategic investors do not need the status
'Strategic' as an ornament, a medal. What they really need
are guarantees that they will be investing quietly and peacefully;
that they will be able to enforce the contracts, whether with
government or private parties; that they will not be
'threatened' by local entrepreneurs, who in some cases try
to kick them out of the sector, or even of the country; that they
will have the certainty that their investment will be secure and
will not face and suffer surprises; that they will be treated
fairly by the administration and, finally, that they can find their
rights in judicial processes, if that remedy is necessary. So,
these could be the areas of a new amendment that AIDA is discussing
and working on nowadays.
Perhaps it is time to reconsider the definition of a real
strategic investor as we believe the meaning of a Strategic
Investor should be more significant than it is under the current
law. As well, incentives that should be given to that category of
investors ought to be more rewarding. It is also time to reconsider
and activate the 1 EURO incentive, for which we do not hear
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