Civici: Open Balkans is the most desirable economic initiative for the region

Enio Civici
Source: Kosovo Online

Although it faces various challenges, such as climate change, limited use of new technologies, agriculture is the key sector of Albania, which brings 19 percent of the country's total GDP and employs 36 percent of workers. According to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Albania, Enio Civici, the Open Balkans initiative, for which he is in charge, opens up a wide range of opportunities for Albanian agriculture.

Civici for Kosovo Online emphasizes that the Open Balkans contributed to the increase in the volume of trade between the three countries, Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia.

"To say it directly, we are recording a large increase in the volume of trade between the three countries, ours with Serbia and North Macedonia, but also Macedonia's with Serbia. All three trade relations have increased in terms of quantity and of course in terms of value. We have signed and implemented several agreements that enable so as not to waste a single minute of exporters' or traders' time at border crossings, we have reduced the costs related to supporting documentation through the advance information system," said Civici.

He adds that the Open Balkans is the most desirable economic initiative for the region.

"We, as our Prime Minister and the President of Serbia said, want to behave like the EU within our region, and in that way, when the moment comes to be partners with European countries, we will not have to start from the beginning. So the Open Balkans is an initiative that embodies that desire, that demand that our countries have that constantly want to be as close as possible, as free as possible for trade and to help economic growth, income growth and welfare growth," he said.

Civici states that the trade exchange between Serbia and Albania increased by almost 25 percent last year compared to 2021, and pointed out that he expects such a trend to continue this year as well.

"The volume of trade exchange increased in the area of food and processed food products during 2022 by 25 percent. I believe that this rhythm will continue this year as well, which is shown by the fact that traders, producers, processors, authorities of the two countries are dedicated and focused to enable better conditions, but also an increase in the quality of the products that are exchanged", Civici believes.

Albania exports agricultural products to 82 countries of the world, mainly vegetables, aromatic, medicinal plants and honey.

"This year, we want to continue the positive trend, because even in these first three months we recorded an increase in exports of eight percent in terms of quantity and 12 percent in terms of the value of goods. This gives us optimism to continue supporting the agricultural sector, because it is an increase of seven or six in recent years, which continues with more than 10 percent every year, consolidated so that we do everything through various IPARD programs and support from the World Bank to stimulate farmers," Civici concluded.

According to him, the Open Balkans also contributes to the support of farmers as a way of better and more successful communication between countries, as well as the exchange of experiences and practices.

He estimated that another field in which the Open Balkans recorded success was the wine sector, which was demonstrated by the joint performance of the three countries at the world's largest wine fair in Italy.