WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Bush administration signed a trade agreement Thursday with Albania which would grant the former communist country most-favored-nation trading status with the United States.

The accord, which must be approved by Congress to take effect, marks the seventh such agreement the administration has reached with an emerging democracy in Eastern Europe or one of the former Soviet republics.

U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills, who represented the United States at the signing ceremony, said the new agreement ''demonstrates the United States' support for Albania's democratic and market-oriented reforms.''

Naske Afezolli, Albania's deputy minister for trade and foreign economic relations, said he hoped closer ties with the United States would help his nation cope with the collapse of its former economic system.

There is very little trade between the two nations. The United States exported $18 million to Albania last year and imported $3.2 million worth of Albanian products.

Most-favored-nation status will mean that Albanian products can be imported into the United States at the lowest tariff rates granted to any other nation.