Albania wt/tpr/S/229 Page



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Trade Regime

  1. World Trade Organization


        1. Albania became a Member of the WTO on 8 September 2000. Albania grants at least MFN treatment to all its trading partners. The basic laws through which Albania approved and formally undertook the obligations of WTO Membership, are Law No. 8,648 of 27 July 2000, On ratification of the Protocol of the accession of the Republic of Albania to the Marrakech Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, and Law No. 8,649 of 27 July 2000, On ratification of the Agreements of the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations.

        2. Albania is a signatory to the Information Technology Agreement; it has undertaken commitments on basic and value-added telecommunications services and committed to the regulatory principles in the Reference Paper, and it is negotiating accession to the Agreement on Government Procurement.19

        3. Albania has been an active participant in the Doha Development Agenda, making submissions on its own in NAMA and agriculture20, and together with other delegations in the areas of: trade facilitation; TRIPS; services; the treatment of recently acceded Members; and NAMA.21 At the 2005 Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Albania, inter alia, expressed its priorities to include flexibility for the treatment and future commitments of recently acceding Members in the agriculture and NAMA negotiations.22 At the 2009 Geneva Ministerial Conference, Albania highlighted its active participation in NAMA negotiations, and those related to small and vulnerable economies. Hope was expressed that the DDA could be speedily concluded. Albania noted on that occasion that it had managed to circumvent the economic crisis as a result of an improved business environment and resilient macroeconomic policies, which had resulted in rapid productivity growth and provided a solid engine for economic growth. Albania highlighted that full compliance with WTO rules guided its trade agenda, and that the foundation of Albania’s trade and economic reforms had been the main WTO principles of transparency, predictability, and accountability.23

        4. Albania has not been involved in WTO dispute settlement proceedings as complainant, defendant or third party. Since its accession, Albania has submitted numerous notifications covering various WTO topics (Table II.1). In some cases, such as its SPS notifications, Albania has not complied with the prescribed 60-day period for comments, although it has invariably done so for TBT notifications.

Table II.1

Notifications to the WTO, January 2000 to December 2009

Legal provision


Description of requirement

Frequency

WTO document (most recent or series)

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994

Article XVII.4

Products traded by state-trading enterprises

Every three years

No notification made

Article XXIV.7

Customs unions and free-trade areas

Ad hoc

WT/REG240/N/1, 14 May 2008

WT/REG/226/N/1, 22 March 2007 WT/REG/183/N/1, 20 December 2004 WT/REG180/N/1, 14 December 2004 WT/REG181/N/1, 14 December 2004 WT/REG/182/N/1, 14 December 2004 WT/REG178/N/1, 19 December 2004



Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XVII (State Trading)

Article XVII:4(a)

State trading activities

Annual

G/STR/N/11/ALB,G/STR/N/12/ALB, 13 October 2008; G/STR/N/10/ALB, 13 September 2005

Agreement on Agriculture  

Article 5.7

Special safeguard

Annual, ad hoc

No notification made

Articles 10 and 18.2

Export subsidies

Annual

G/AG/N/ALB/1, 6 October 2008 (years 2000 to 2007)

Article 12.1(b)

New export restrictions

Ad hoc

No notification made

Article 16.2

Food aid and other assistance

Annual, ad hoc

No notification made

Article 18.2

Volume of imports under tariff quotas

Annual

No notification made

Article 18.2

Tariff quota administration

Once, then changes

No notification made

Articles 18.2 and 18.3

Domestic support

Annual and ad hoc

G/AG/N/ALB/2, 6 October 2008 (2000 to 2007)










Table II.1 (cont'd)

Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

Article 7 and Annex B

Proposed SPS regulations (including proposed or emergency measures)

Ad hoc

123 notifications over 2005-09 (G/SPS/N/ALB/3, 11 January 2005 to G/SPS/N/ALB/125, 1 October 2009)

2 notifications in 1999



Annex B, paragraph 3

Enquiry point

Once, then changes

Notified (see: http://spsims.wto.org)

Annex B, par. 10

National notification authority

Once, then changes

Notified (see: http://spsims.wto.org)

Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade

Articles 2, 3, 5 and 7

Proposed and adopted technical regulations

Before or immediately after the measure is taken.

38 notifications over period 2005-09, none prior; G/TBT/N/ALB/1, 28 January 2005 to G/TBT/N/ALB/38, 3 September 2009

Article 5.6, 5.7 and 7.2

Conformity assessment procedures

Ad hoc

No notification made

Article 10.1 and 10.3

Enquiry point

Once, then changes

Notified (see: http://tbtims.wto.org)

Article 15.2

Implementation and administration measures

Once, then changes

G/TBT/2/Add.99, 15 May 2008

Paragraph J, Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption and Application of Standards

Work programme of bodies that have accepted the Code

Biannual

G/TBT/CS/2/Rev.15, 2 March 2009

Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs)

Article 5.1

TRIMs not in conformity with the provisions of the Agreement

Once

No notification made

Agreement on Implementation of Article VI of the GATT 1994 (AntiDumping)

Article 16.4

Anti-dumping actions taken over the past six months

Biannual

No action taken (latest) G/ADP/N/180/Add.1, 27 April 2009

Article 16.5

Investigating authority

Once, then changes

No notification made

Article 18.5

Laws and regulations

Once, then changes

G/ADP/N/1/ALB/2/Rev.1, 8 May 2008 G/ADP/N/1/ALB/2, 3 December 2007 G/ADP/N/1/ALB/1/Suppl.1, 8 June 2007 G/ADP/N/1/ALB/1, 24 March 2005

Agreement on Implementation of Article VII of the GATT 1994 (Agreement on Customs Valuation)

Article 22.2

Legislation

Once, then changes

G/VAL/N/1/ALB/1, 9 June 2001

Annex III paragraph 3

Reservations in respect of valuation methods order

Once

G/VAL/N/3/ALB/1, 27 November 2007

Decision of the Committee on CV (12.5.95)

Responses to the checklist of issues

Once

G/VAL/N/2/ALB/1, 26 November 2007

Decisions under par. A3 and A4 of document G/VAL/5

Application of decision

Once

G/VAL/N/3/ALB/1, 27 November 2007

Agreement on Preshipment Inspection

Article 5

Laws or regulations notified

Once, then changes

G/PSI/N/1/Add.11, 24 June 2008

Agreement on Rules of Origin

Article 5.1

Rules, judicial decisions

Once

G/RO/N/47, 6 July 2005

Article 5.2

Changes in non-preferential rules of origin

Ad hoc

G/RO/N/53, 18 September 2007

Annex II

Preferential and non-preferential rules of origin

Once, then changes

G/RO/N/47, 6 July 2005

G/RO/N/53, 18 September 2007



Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures

Articles 1.4(a), 8.2(b)

Laws and regulations.

Once, then changes

G/LIC/N/1/ALB/2, 30 June 2008 G/LIC/N/1/ALB/1, 27 November 2007

Article 5

Import licensing procedures

Ad hoc

G/LIC/N/2/ALB/2, 28 November 2008

Article 7.3

Questionnaire

Annual

G/LIC/N/3/ALB/3, 22 December 2008 G/LIC/N/3/ALB/2, 2 January 2008

Article 8.2(b)

Changes in legislation

Once, then changes

No notifications made

Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures

Article 25.1

Article XVI:1 of the GATT 1994 and Article 25 of the SCM Agreement.

Full notifications every three years; annual updating.

G/SCM/N/155/ALB, 14 April 2008

Article 25.11

Countervailing duties applied over the past six months

Biannual

No action taken (latest) G/SCM/N/185/Add.1/Rev.1, 14 October 2009

Article 25.12

Investigating authority, domestic investigation procedures .

Once

No notification made










Table II.1 (cont'd)


Article 32.6

Laws and regulations

Once, then changes

G/SCM/N/1/ALB/2/Rev.1, 8 May 2008 G/SCM/N/1/ALB/2, 3 December 2007 G/SCM/N/155/ALB, 14 April 2008 G/SCM/N/1/ALB/1/Suppl.1, 7 June 2007 G/SCM/N/123/ALB, 21 March 2005

Agreement on Safeguards

Article 12.6

Laws and regulations

Once, then changes

G/SG/N/1/ALB/2/Rev.1, 30 April 2008 G/SG/N/1/ALB/2, 28 November 2007 G/SG/N/1/ALB/1/Suppl.1, 8 June 2007 G/SG/N/1/ALB/1, 21 March 2005

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

Article III:3

Legislation

Ad hoc

S/C/N/453; 455; 456; 457; 458; 459, 16 June 2008; S/C/N/485, 9 March 2009

Article III.4 and IV.2

Enquiry and contact point

Once, then changes

S/ENQ/78/Rev.10, 13 June 2008

Article V.7(a)

Economic integration agreements

Once only

No notifications made

Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

Article 63.2

Laws and regulations

Once, then changes

IP/N/1/ALB/P/2, 10 April 2008

IP/N/1/ALB/D/1, 9 April 2008

IP/N/1/ALB/D/2, 9 April 2008 IP/N/1/ALB/I/1/Add.1, 9 April 2008 IP/N/1/ALB/P/1, 9 April 2008

IP/N/1/ALB/3, 4 April 2008



IP/N/1/ALB/2, 23 February 2005 IP/N/1/ALB/C/1/Add.1, 31 October 2002 IP/N/1/ALB/1, 30 October 2002 IP/N/1/ALB/C/1, 25 March 2002 IP/N/1/ALB/E/1, 25 March 2002 IP/N/1/ALB/I/1, 25 March 2002 IP/N/1/ALB/L/1, 25 March 2002 IP/N/1/ALB/U/1, 25 March 2002

Article 69

Contact points

Once, then changes

IP/N/3/Rev.10, 16 May 2008

Decision of the Council for TRIPS of 21 November 1995.

Checklist of issues on enforcement

Once, then changes

IP/N/6/ALB/1, 18 April 2001

Other










Integrated Data Base for Personal Computers. General Council Decision of 16 July 1997.

Customs tariffs, import statistics

Annual

G/MA/IDB/2/Rev.29/Corr.1, 31 March 2009

Source: WTO Secretariat.
      1. Regional trade agreements


            1. Albania is signatory to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA 200624), and has bilateral free-trade agreements with the European Union and Turkey. All of these agreements have entered into force and a consideration of the agreements between Albania and the EU (on the goods aspect)25 on the one hand, and Albania and Turkey on the other, have been undertaken by WTO Members pursuant to the Transparency Mechanism for RTAs.26 As at early 2010, a factual presentation was under preparation by the WTO Secretariat for the CEFTA 2006 and for the services aspect of the agreement with the European Union. The focus of all the agreements Albania has signed is on the liberalization of industrial products. Concessions in agriculture are limited.27 Under the EC-Albania agreement, services commitments are minimal; there are no services commitments in the agreements with CEFTA and Turkey, but future liberalization is envisaged (Table II.2). As at early 2010 there had been no concrete progress in services liberalization under the CEFTA or the agreement with Turkey. On 17 December 2009, Albania signed a free-trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).28 No other FTAs are under negotiation.




            1. Albania participates in the EU's Stabilisation and Association Process.29 The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, which entered into force on 1 April 2009, contains obligations on a range of political, trade, and economic issues. Previously, trade-related provisions had been implemented, since December 2006, under an Interim Agreement. The EU provides guidance to the Albanian authorities on reform priorities through the European Partnership.30 Progress on these reform priorities is monitored through bilateral dialogue that takes place through the SAA structures. The first SAA Council was held in May 2009. Six sectoral working groups/sub-committees meetings have been held since November 2008. Albania is a potential candidate for EU membership. Albania submitted its application for EU membership on 28 April 2009. On 16 November 2009 the Council invited the European Commission to submit its Opinion on Albania's application; the Opinion is an analysis of a country's capacity to meet the membership criteria. On the basis of the Opinion, it will be decided whether and when to proceed to the next stages of the accession process.31 The European Commission submitted a questionnaire to the Albanian authorities in December 2009.

            2. In its 2009 Progress Report, the EU noted, inter alia, that Albania has made progress in aligning its legislation, policies, and capacity with European standards in most areas, albeit unevenly. While progress had continued in areas such as free movement of goods, energy, SME policy, customs computerization, government procurement, and competition policy, in other areas, such as intellectual property rights, audiovisual policy, agriculture, and veterinary/phytosanitary control, progress had been limited. The report also noted that, overall, further efforts were needed to improve administrative capacity and to enhance effective implementation of legislation.32

            3. The CEFTA 2006 regional free-trade agreement replaced the individual bilateral free-trade agreements Albania had signed with Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Moldova; Serbia and Montenegro; and UNMIK/Kosovo (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo).33 Most of these stemmed from commitments under the Stability Pact, particularly a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2001 on Trade Facilitation and Liberalization under which Albania and the other signatory states to the MOU agreed to negotiate a network of bilateral free-trade agreements.34

Table II.2

Overview of Albanian preferential trade agreements

ALBANIA – EU

Parties:

Albania and the European Union and its Member States

Date of signature/entry into force:

12 June 2006/1 December 2006 (Interim Agreement (goods only)), 1 April 2009 (SAA (goods and services))

Transition for full implementation:

Customs duties on industrial products listed in Annex I, to be phased out to zero gradually over a five-year period. Customs duties on agricultural products listed in Annex II(b) to be progressively reduced

Albanian duty-free tariff lines:

87% (2006); 94% (2011)

Provisions concerning goods:

Abolition of quantitative restrictions on imports (industrial, agricultural and fishery products) and exports (industrial products only); abolition of any charges having an equivalent effect to customs duties on imports (industrial products); abolition of export duties (industrial products). Special safeguard for agriculture and fisheries products. Specific arrangements for iron and steel products and wines and spirits respectively; general safeguard clause; shortage clause

Provision concerning services:

Provisions on movement of "key personnel"; rules on transport services (although carve‑out for air transport services; inland waterways transport and maritime cabotage services)

Other provisions:

Non-discrimination in procurement and marketing of goods by state monopolies; administrative cooperation; investment-related provisions; approximation of laws; law enforcement and competition rules; cooperation in a number of trade related areas

Albanian merchandise trade (2009):

Exports US$1.08 billion (79.4% of total); imports US$3.19 billion (60.7% of total)

Related WTO documents:

WT/REG226/N/1, 22 March 2007; WT/REG226/1/Rev.1, 29 April 2008

Relevant websites:

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/potential-candidates/albania/key-documents/index_en.htm

ALBANIA-CEFTA 2006

Parties:

Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Moldova; Montenegro; Serbia; UNMIK/Kosovo

Date of signature/entry into force:

19 December 2006/1 May 2007

Transition for full implementation:

Transition period to end at latest on 31 December 2010; abolition of customs duties on entry into force of the agreement, with the exception of progressive reduction leading to abolition of customs duties on industrial products listed in Annex 2 by 2008. Customs duties specified in Annex 3 to be reduced or abolished according to the schedules listed in the Annex

Albanian duty-free tariff lines:

Industrial products are duty free for all CEFTA countries. In 2009, Albania agreed (but the agreement has not yet been signed) that agricultural tariffs should be duty free for all countries except Bosnia and Herzegovina

Provisions concerning goods:

Abolition of quantitative restrictions on imports and exports of all goods; abolition of export duties on all goods; abolition of customs fees; abolition of export subsidies in mutual agricultural trade; parties to negotiate agreements on harmonization or mutual recognition of SPS measures; elimination of unnecessary technical barriers to trade; cooperation to facilitate and harmonize technical regulations; general safeguard clause

ALBANIA-CEFTA

Provision concerning services:

Parties to cooperate with the aim of progressive liberalization and mutual opening of services markets




Table II.2 (cont'd)


ALBANIA-CEFTA

Other provisions:

Non-discrimination in procurement and marketing of goods by state monopolies; competition; state aid; investment-related provisions; transparency and non-discrimination in government procurement (by May 2010); implementation of obligations in certain IP conventions by May 2014; dispute settlement

Albanian merchandise trade (2008):

Exports: US$186 million (13.7% of total); imports: US$436 million (8.3% of total)

Related WTO documents:

WT/REG233/N/1, 26 July 2007; WT/REG233/N/1/Rev.1, 30 July 2007

Relevant websites:

http://www.stabilitypact.org/wt2/TradeCEFTA2006.asp

ALBANIA – TURKEY

Parties:

Albania and Turkey

Date of signature/entry into force:

22 December 2006/1 May 2008

Transition for full implementation:

Transitional period lasting a maximum of five years to 1 January 2013. Duty elimination on industrial products takes place on the date of entry into force of the agreement and, for products listed in Annex II, there are 20% reductions on 1 January on each of the following years until the elimination of most duties on 1 January 2013

Albanian duty-free tariff lines:

81.1% (2008) and 82.4% (2013)

Provisions concerning goods:

Abolition of quantitative restrictions on imports of industrial goods; concessions on certain basic agricultural, processed agricultural and fishery products in accordance with Protocol I (preferential treatment granted by Albania to Turkish products listed in Annex I to Protocol I); abolition of export duties and quantitative restrictions on exports of industrial products; veterinary and phytosanitary control measures to be harmonized on the basis of EU legislation; safeguard measures of limited duration permitted for infant industries or sectors undergoing restructuring or facing serious difficulties

Provision concerning services:

Cooperation with a view to future liberalization of opening markets to trade in services

Other provisions:

Non-discrimination in procurement of goods by state monopolies; objective of progressive liberalization of public procurement; competition; transparency of state aid; cooperation with view to future liberalization on opening markets to investment; non-discriminatory protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights; dispute settlement

Albanian merchandise trade (2008):

Exports: US$26 million (1.9% of total); imports US$315 million (6% of total)

Related WTO documents:

WT/REG240/N/1, 14 May 2008; WT/REG240/1, 31 March 2009; WT/REG240/2, 24 June 2009; WT/REG240/3, 12 October 2009

Relevant websites:

http://www.mete.gov.al/rub.php?idr=239&l=e

Source: WTO Secretariat.

            1. In addition, Albania has trade and economic cooperation agreements in force with: Argentina, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, FYRM, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States, and Uruguay. According to official sources, these are intended to promote trade and economic cooperation35

            2. Albania is entitled to benefit from the GSP schemes of Canada, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States. In addition, since 2000, Albania (together with other Western Balkan countries) is eligible for preferential treatment in the EU market under a waiver to GATT Article I(1). The waiver was originally set to expire in 2006, but was extended until 2011.36
      1. Aid for trade


            1. According to the Joint WTO/OECD database, Albania received trade-related assistance from international donors totalling US$115.68 million during 2001-07. Over 60% of all funding was provided by the EU. Most of the assistance was provided under the category of "trade policy and regulations" (US$82.83 million), and the remainder under the category "all trade development" (US$32.86 million). No support under the "infrastructure" category was recorded.37 Financial support from international donors tailed off significantly in 2007.



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