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Albania Economy

    Economy—overview: An extremely poor country by European standards, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more open-market economy. The economy rebounded in 1993-95 after a severe depression accompanying the collapse of the previous centrally planned system in 1990 and 1991. However, a weakening of government resolve to maintain stabilization policies in the election year of 1996 contributed to renewal of inflationary pressures, spurred by the budget deficit which exceeded 12%. The collapse of financial pyramid schemes in early 1997—which had attracted deposits from a substantial portion of Albania's population—triggered severe social unrest which led to more than 1,500 deaths, widespread destruction of property, and an 8% drop in GDP. The new government installed in July 1997 has taken strong measures to restore public order and to revive economic activity and trade. The economy continues to be bolstered by remittances of some 20% of the labor force which works abroad, mostly in Greece and Italy. These remittances supplement GDP and help offset the large foreign trade deficit. Most agricultural land was privatized in 1992, substantially improving peasant incomes. In 1998, Albania probably recovered most if not all of the 7% drop in GDP of 1997.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$5 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 7% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,490 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 56%
    industry: 21%
    services: 23% (1997)

    Population below poverty line: 19.6% (1996 est.)

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 40% (1997 est.)

    Labor force: 1.692 million (1994 est.) (including 352,000 emigrant workers and 261,000 domestically unemployed)

    Labor force—by occupation: agriculture (nearly all private; but some state employed) 49.5%, private business sector 22.2%, state business sector 28.3% (including state-owned industry 7.8%); note—includes only those domestically employed

    Unemployment rate: 14% (October 1997) officially, but likely to be as high as 28%

    Budget:
    revenues: $624 million
    expenditures: $996 million, including capital expenditures of $NA

    Industries: food processing, textiles and clothing; lumber, oil, cement, chemicals, mining, basic metals, hydropower

    Industrial production growth rate: 6% (1995 est.)

    Electricity—production: 5.12 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 4.3%
    hydro: 95.7%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 5.27 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996) (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 150 million kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: wide range of temperate-zone crops and livestock

    Exports: $212 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

    Exports—commodities: asphalt, metals and metallic ores, electricity, crude oil, vegetables, fruits, tobacco

    Exports—partners: Italy, Greece, Germany, Belgium, US

    Imports: $791 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

    Imports—commodities: machinery, consumer goods, grains

    Imports—partners: Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

    Debt—external: $645 million (1996)

    Economic aid—recipient: $630 million (1997 pledged)

    Currency: 1 lek (L) = 100 qintars

    Exchange rates: leke (L) per US$1—139.93 (January 1999), 150.63 (1998), 148.93 (1997), 104.50 (1996), 92.70 (1995), 94.62 (1994)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)