China reconfirms investment, trade interest in Albania
TIRANA, April 18 – China has reconfirmed its plans to continue boosting trade and investment ties with its old ally Albania as the economic superpower is emerging as one of the country’s top investors and second largest trading partner. The confirmation came as China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli paid a two-day visit to Albania meeting the country’s president and Prime Minster while leading the highest level Chinese government delegation to Albania in five decades.
The Chinese Vice Premier and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama agreed to intensify work on the joint Economic and Trade Commission, an initiative examining cooperation potential and opportunities between the two countries.
China and Albania agreed this week to enhance cooperation in areas of infrastructure, production capacity, tourism and agriculture under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative and the 16+1 mechanism featuring China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries cooperation, wrote China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
“China is willing to conduct more substantial cooperation with Albania taking the country’s features and actual needs into consideration under the Belt and Road Initiative and the 16+1 mechanism,” Zhang said meeting Albanian president Bujar Nishani, hailing the Balkan country’s geographical advantage in South East Europe.
China would like to take an active part in Albanian major infrastructural and energy projects such as roads, hydro-electric power stations and economic development zones, and strengthen cooperation on cultural and people-to-people exchanges, film-making, education and tourism, the Chinese Vice Premier was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Last year’s acquisition of the Tirana International Airport and the country’s largest oil producer turned China into a strategic investor in Albania while trade exchanges between the two countries rose to about €423 million, making China the second most important trading partner.
The Chinese investments come as part of Beijing’s ambitious “One Belt One Road” initiative, a plan to wrap its own infrastructure and influence westward by land and sea and the “16+1″ framework expanding cooperation with 11 EU member states and five Balkan countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
The investments also come at a time when growth in the world’s second largest economy has slowed down to a so-called new normal following decades of strong double digit growth rates and ample liquidity by Chinese companies.
The Albania Chinese relations date back in the late 1940s when then-communist Albania was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China and the tiny Balkan country helped the Asian superpower regain its seat at the UN as the PRC in the early 1970s.