Reflections for the consequences and opportunities post COVID-19 Pandemic
In my opinion, it should be noted that Covid’s drama is a two-time world crisis:
Firstly, a sanitary crisis with major health consequences
Secondly, an economic crisis with severe consequences for the economy and poverty in a large part of the population. The second part of the crisis can kill even more people than the pandemic virus.
We are living in a period where big changes will take place, perhaps the greatest changes of modern times. The crisis has catastrophic consequences, but it will also bring radical changes to the economic model, providing opportunities for industry players in Europe and indirectly in Albania.
I would like to bring up the reindustrialization movement in Europe, which is often emphasized at the moment. The Covid-19 brought to light a major weakness in France and Europe:
Lack of local production for basic products such as masks or gloves, and even the basic molecule for paracetamol that is no longer produced and must be imported from China. This deindustrialization originated in the 1980s, with the onset of globalization that intensified in the 1990s and the creation of the post-industrial economic model in Europe.
For 40 years, Ricardo’s theory of value became a general rule. In each chain of the production process, it was required the highest added value, thus, either consciously or unconsciously, the whole industry was delocalized in China and in the developing countries with low production costs. European players’ goal for a higher profit in a shorter time made them go sightless and deprived them of medium and long term strategies. The system was driven to its maximum, and now we are in the paradox that France or also Europe is depending on China for masks or gloves.
Public opinion and European leaders are now aware that the direction of the movement needs to be changed as soon as possible and some of these products need to be relocated. The relocation is necessary to rediscover autonomy in basic products.
On the other hand, the relocation of a part of the industry leads to an increase in production costs and a decrease in purchasing power for Europeans.
Are Europeans willing to pay more for everyday goods? Here, it becomes obvious an opportunity that countries like Albania have in the great changes that are taking place. To reduce the cost of production, industrial players will prefer to carry out the processes that cannot be automated and which have a high cost of labor in the European area, which the buyer is not ready to pay.
In this context, Albania is offered a real chance. I have invested in Albania 15 years ago and soon I realized that, through people’ skills and the low cost of production compared to Western Europe, Albania had a real opportunity for development. I called Albania “Little China of the Balkans”. Geographical proximity to developed and rich countries, the capacity of people to realize quality products and competitive costs are the 3 pillars that provide real opportunities for attracting Western investment in the industry’s field.
Unfortunately, in 30 years of democracy, Albania has not managed to be attractive as it deserves for the Western investors. This, not because of the Albanian people, but because of the state administration, which has not functioned at the right level and of continuous corruption. Let’s hope that this time the Albanian state will be at the height that everyone has been waiting for so long.
The marketing strategy of my company, Marlotex, since the very beginning is based on diversifying products’ range. We operate in 5 different markets, with 5 different goods, which are not related to each other. In principle this policy gives more resilience in times of crisis and more chances of resistance. But this, it is not so easy to be put into operation by the organization and professional competencies, because it requires you the equivalence of 5 smaller plants within the same plant.
Right after the Lockdown, the enterprise was closed for 3 weeks, but meanwhile, we have received many requests for textile masks. To handle this high demand, we have channelized our production to 8 companies in Albania and about 200 employees have worked in mask ‘production units. By mid-June, a decrease in demand for masks is foreseen and then the real crisis is expected to start. It is very difficult to predict the consequences, but let’s hope that the crisis will continue to “V” shape with a rapid resumption of the activity.