US Ambassador: “Lawsuit case over TIA duty free serves as litmus test for business environment”

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 6, 2020 11:49

Story Highlights

  • Through a series of lawsuits, Albania Duty Free Distribution (ADFD), the company that has been administering the duty free zone since the 2000s, did not quit despite losing the TIA open race.

Related Articles

TIRANA, Feb. 6 – During an interview with the VOA, U.S. Ambassador to Albania, Yuri Kim, said that the lawsuit over the administration of the duty free shop area at Mother Teresa International Airport, which is suspending the activity launch of the winner US International Cruise Duty Free Company, ICDF, “is a litmus test for Albania’s business environment and ability to attract and protect foreign direct investment.”

The US company has been unable to take over the duty-free shop area, since July last year, when it also signed a contract with Tirana International Airport (TIA). Through a series of lawsuits, Albania Duty Free Distribution (ADFD), the company that has been administering the duty free zone since the 2000s, did not give up despite losing the TIA open race.

The ADFD initially approached the Tirana District Court on August 1 last year to request the continuation of its activity. The case was dismissed by Judge Arjan Aliaj after company representatives failed to appear in court. However, AFDF filed the same lawsuit and this time judge Mimoza Kajo-Brahimi granted ADFD the right to follow through with its activity until the case was fully monitored.

The Ministry of Finance and Economy is also responsible in this case, as it should have informed the ADFD 60 days before the end of the contract, that the license to exercise its activity in Tirana’s airport would not be renewed. Moreover, in mid-August, Deputy Minister Elton Haxhia responded to the ADFD’s license renewal request within 24 hours, the issuance of which may take up to 6 months according to legal requirements.

The case drew attention from the media as the ADFD is owned by Elona Caushi, the wife of Judge Gjin Gjoni, a controversial name in the Albanian justice system. It also appears that the noise in the press has prompted the Ministry to revoke the license, since, among other things, ADFD no longer had a lease with TIA. But the ministry’s move prompted Albania Duty Free Distribution to file another lawsuit as a result of its revoked license. Judge Avni Sejdi ruled to suspend the effects of the ministry’s decision until the case was resolved.

The court is scheduled to hear the arguments of the parties on Thursday. Ambassador Kim announced that three embassy diplomatic representatives would be sent to closely monitor the session. “If Albania seeks greater economic opportunities to attract more foreign investors, it must demonstrate that everyone plays by the same transparent rules and that those rules apply equally and fairly to every person, every institution and every business,” the ambassador told VOA in a statement, adding that “strengthening business ties between the US and Albania is one of my three priorities as the U.S. Ambassador to Albania.”

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 6, 2020 11:49