Albania’s exports increased by 22.5% year on year in August to ALL24bn (€196mn), not only recovering to the pre-pandemic year, but exceeding their value in July 2019, statistics office Instat said. During the month, exports were 18.9% higher than the monthly average for August 2018-2020.
Imports also rebounded, growing by 26.2% y/y to ALL61bn, up 23.2% on the average figure for the previous three Augusts.
However, trade slowed compared to July, with exports showing a 26.0% month-on-month decline, while imports were down by 15.0%. The trade deficit amounted to ALL37bn.
The main y/y increases in exports were in the construction materials and metals, and minerals, fuels and energy categories. Construction materials and metals contributed 17.4 percentage points (pp) to the overall y/y increase in exports in August, while minerals, fuels and electricity added a further 8.0 pp.
However, the 22.3% y/y decrease in exports of textiles and footwear, an important area for Albania, dragged the annual advance in exports down by 8.7 pp. The sector is still far from recovering to pre-pandemic levels.
As bne IntelliNews has reported, Albania is an important supplier of clothing and footwear to Italy and other European countries thanks to its relatively low costs, geographic proximity and experience in the sector. However, the industry was devastated by the pandemic, and continuing lockdowns and restrictions into 2021, together with changing consumer behaviour, have held back the recovery of the sector.
While exports from the sector did increase by 10% y/y in the first eight months of 2020, they remained 10.3% lower compared to the same period of 2019.
By contrast, demand for construction materials and metals is high, both within Albania – spurred on by the post-earthquake reconstruction – and on international markets. Export of minerals, fuels and energy were strongly up on the first eight months of 2020, and also up by a robust 41% on 2019.
Meanwhile, exports of food, beverages and tobacco were one of the least affected by the pandemic, and growth continued this year after an expansion in 2020.