Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here today alongside AmCham President Enio Jaco, Minister Eduard Shalsi, Jorida Tabaku, and Matteo Colangeli of the EBRD for the release of AmCham’s 2020 Business Index assessing CEO and executive opinions on the business climate in Albania from AmCham member companies.
I am here today because I care about the results. I care deeply because of what it means about the prospect for investment in Albania. As many of you know by now, increasing trade and investment between the United States and Albania is one of my top three priorities as Ambassador.
It will not surprise many Albanians to learn that this year’s survey showed a declining business climate. Continuing areas of concern are the political climate, unfair competition, and corruption.
Rather than trying to assign blame for these problems, we must focus on how we will fix these problems. Your views – and your actions – will be critical in this effort. What is your vision for Albania and what are your concrete recommendations for how to get there? How will you create jobs, attract foreign investment, and increase opportunities for young people? How can we work together to improve Albania’s business climate? All stakeholders in the Albanian economy must come together to produce proactive, solutions-oriented approaches.
The fact that the political situation made the top of the list of concerns shows that Albanians are tired of politics as usual. They are depressed by the politics of blame. What I hear from Albanian people is they want to see leaders working together for the sake of the people. They want government to enable them to have a fair shot – free of fear and corruption – a fair shot to earn more money, achieve a decent standard of living, and give their children a better future.
As President John F. Kennedy once said of sound economic policy: “A rising tide lifts all boats.” So again, I challenge you all to use today’s report for insight on what needs to be fixed, not whom to blame. The Albanian people want results, not insults. They want vision, not division. We are confident that the Albanian people and leaders are capable of rising to this challenge, and the United States stands ready, as always, to support you.