Albana Laknori, Secretary General of the Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIT) makes STAR BUSINESS readers familiar with the mission, role and contribution of CCIT so far and the objectives for 2020.
"CCIT, through the network of rooms, helps entrepreneurs around the world to connect with Albania, and invest in various fields, such as tourism, agriculture, energy. "We are bringing the voice of domestic and foreign investors to the Government and Investment Council," Laknori told STAR BUSINESS.
Through consultations and roundtables, she said, “we are contributing to improving the legal framework, investment tax incentives, regulatory charges, licensing and construction permits, etc .; in order to improve the investment climate in Albania. "
Laknori, also an IP expert, has a message for all small businesses to grow steadily: "UPDATE AND PROTECT ANY CREATED IP. I WILL REWARD YOU FOREVER. ”
Please, can you give an overview of the situation of the Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIT)? What is its mission and role?
Established since 1897, CCIT is the legitimate voice representative and advocate of the business community. Since 2008, membership in the Chamber has been voluntary.
Under the jurisdiction of the CCIT, the business of the Tirana Region contributes over 40% of the country's GDP; 40% of total exports; 30% of the total number of active enterprises operating in the Region of Tirana; 36,6% of companies are managed by women, and 67% of the total number of foreign enterprises and joint ventures;
During 2019, CCIT organized 25 training courses with 400 participants, 92 companies, 11 institutions.
CCIT with 123 years of its activity, has been and remains the main supporter of Tirana enterprises, such as the capital of Albania, women and men, young and old, small, medium, or even large, trying to be their voice in government institutions and beyond. We serve as a bridge between official and private entities, in Albania and abroad. We are part of a large network of chambers of commerce in the Balkans, Europe, China, USA, Latin America, etc.
- Advocacy: With its membership it is possible to speak with a unified voice and lobby for the formulation of policies in the interest of business, such as fiscal regime, administrative barriers, etc .;
- Commercial information services; performing the consular service of devices with verbal notes; issuance of certificates of origin for export products;
- Promotion of international trade, activities that promote exports / fairs and exhibitions;
- Education and training;
- As an intermediary with the diplomatic corps in presenting economic potentials / products, services in the foreign market;
- Organizing business forums;
- Memoranda of cooperation;
Bilateral, Multilateral Agreements and Regional Integration
What can you tell us about Chamber membership? How is the Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry currently contributing to the business environment in Albania?
Since 2009, we have voluntary membership, and this brings many difficulties, but again we have changed the strategy, offering many services to businesses in Tirana:
- Efforts to maintain a permanent dialogue with the government, regarding strategies, trade and fiscal framework and the legal framework which is affecting the interest of the business community
- Organizing business forums, as well as MoU signatures inside and outside the country;
- Supporting SMEs to enter EU markets for innovative ideas in the implementation of the EEN project;
- Management and implementation of 13 European projects, such as cross-border IPA programs, EEN (European Enterprise Network), with a positive impact on membership, competitiveness and innovation;
- Organizing the Innovation Festival to identify the best innovative ideas;
- Organization of seminars, meetings;
- Organizing technical training for students,
- Training and qualification programs made for companies that will use English Business, English for Human Resources, etc .;
- Organization of three fairs "Pharmaceuticals", Agri-Food Fair, Children's Fair,
- Organizing the activity "CCIT Award" as a unique brand of CCIT, giving an award to the best entrepreneur of the year.
- Intellectual Property Consultancy (Trademarks, Inventions, Copyright) etc.
- Direct counseling solution, etc.
- We organize the Women Entrepreneurs Summit every year, to raise the awareness of women to be entrepreneurs, with the presence of all women leaders in Albania. What is the Chamber doing about trade and the investment climate? CCIT is a permanent member of the Investment Council (IC) of Albania, which stands under the Minister of Finance and Economy. IC receives all business requests to improve the business climate in Albania and create the opportunity for new foreign investment. Every month we have different foreign delegations, which want to invest in Albania. CCIT, through the network of rooms, helps entrepreneurs around the world to connect with Albania, and invest in various fields, such as tourism, agriculture, energy. We are bringing the voice of domestic and foreign investors to the Government and Investment Council.
Through consultations and roundtables, she said, “we are contributing to improving the legal framework, investment tax incentives, regulatory charges, licensing and construction permits, etc .; in order to improve the investment climate in Albania.
In terms of trade, we are involved in regional cooperation activities with the countries of the Western Balkans, trying to implement the CEFTA agreement and increase the export potential of Albanian products and services and reduce non-tariff barriers, which mainly occur at cross-border points, improvement of phytosanitary measures, etc.
What are the Chamber's objectives for 2020? What do you hope to achieve?
- Promoting businesses that are engaged in productive activities that comply with environmental norms and standards, known as green business practices;
- Launching these businesses through the Chamber website and other promotional materials for members and associations working for green business;
- Undertaking education and training programs and identifying best practices for the sustainability of these businesses;
- Establishment of an ad-hoc commission for a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the CEFTA agreement, a review of tariffs on subsidized imported goods from neighboring countries, as our products become non-competitive;
- Active in supporting the activities of the Albanian Economic Forum;
- Undertaking actions for the promotion of “Made in Albania” products;
- Establishing an interactive communication with economic diplomacy, to promote mutual investments and the diversity of exports, organizing B2B business forms that serve for the internationalization of Albanian entrepreneurship;
- Increasing cooperation with foreign partners, expanding cooperation with counterparts, economic and academic representatives of the diaspora, to coordinate and undertake activities in the interest of the needs of the Albanian economy and business;
- Active cooperation and communication with CCIT authorized representatives in foreign countries, serving as a bridge of cooperation with the Diaspora and foreign business;
As an Intellectual Property Expert, what is your message to small businesses trying to make them grow sustainably?
Working in the field of IP from 2002 until today, I think something is changing and improving in Albanian SMEs in 2020, as a family based business, thinking that IP assets are one of the main assets of the company of them. Seeing that the field of IP is very wide, as trademarks of goods and services, patents of inventions, geographical indications, service models, integrated circuits and copyrights, SMEs are aware and trained in the protection of these precious assets, created by them.
I see this with pleasure in young entrepreneurs, in start-ups, working hard on creating and innovating their trademarks, brands, logos, patents of their inventions, or when they are working digitally. They are actually challenging. And I'm really amazed.
My message is UPDATE AND PROTECT ANY CREATED IP. IT WILL REWARD YOU FOREVER.