After two days of insightful dialogues, the curtains dropped today on the 9th edition of the Foreign Investors Summit, Business Review’s landmark event dedicated to Foreign Direct Investments in Romania. A special thank you goes out to all those involved, the on-site audience, the speakers, and partners: Vodafone Romania, Hagag Development Europe, AFI Europe, Speedwell, Auchan Romania, Schneider Electric, Dentons, Noerr, Atlantis Romania, Bosch Romania, BASF Romania, Engie Romania, AHK Romania, CCIFER, Foreign Investors Council – FIC, and Holograma 3D – Think Events.
The summit was kicked off by Mr. Luca Niculescu, State Secretary, National Coordinator regarding Romania’s accession process to the OECD Commission, who delivered the opening keynote speech. “Investment is a central issue in the OECD accession discussions, including the investment protection legislative framework.” Said Mr. Niculescu. “Romania will focus its efforts on aligning with OECD economic practices, as well as global practices in the field.”
In the following panel, moderated by Business Review’s Editor-in-Chief Anda Sebesi, the speakers highlighted the importance of FDI’s in Romania. 2021 was a record-year for Romania regarding the inflow of investments per capita, pointed out Daniel Anghel Board Member and Chair of the FDI Task Force│Foreign Investors Council.
“It’s not easy to convince people to invest in Romania, but when you see that the purchasing power in Bucharest is as high as it is in Warsaw it is easy to find customers for any project.” Added Jan Demeyere, Co-founder & Partner at Speedwell.
Talking about the capital market, Romania was one of the best performing in Central-Eastern Europe this year, stated Radu Hanga, President at Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB).
Opened by H.E. Ms. Laurence Auer, French Republic Ambassador to Romania, the panel dedicated to France, titled “French investments in Romania, a part of the common heritage,” features top speakers such as Tiberiu Danetiu, Marketing Director at Auchan Romania, Lucian Enaru, Country General Manager at Schneider Electric Romania, Eric Stab, Vice-President Foreign Investors Council | Chairman and CEO at ENGIE Romania, Francois Coste, CEO Groupama Asigurari | President CCIFER, Lucian Mihai, Commercial Director at Gonzales Mecanica de Precizie, and moderated by Cristian Preotu, CEO at Le Manoir.
“France is the third largest investor in Romania with many of our top companies present here in all sectors. French companies invested EUR 1.2 billion in Romania last year as our commercial ties are strengthening.” Explained H.E. Ms. Auer.
French investors always found in Romania a welcoming country and a good place to do business, believes Eric Stab of Engie Romania, while Francois Coste of Groupama said that Romanian talent is highly valued by foreign investors because of their unique features, such as multilingualism or technical skills. Tiberiu Danetiu of Auchan pointed out one of Romania’s biggest vulnerabilities: the huge commercial deficit of our country. “Romania has a huge commercial deficit as it imports more than it is exporting; it is problem that needs to be solved. Romania should be a producer, a manufacturer for Europe as this is a way to reduce the deficit.”
Another key talking point in the panel was the need for digitalization, green energy, and infrastructure. “There is a need of new, green and efficient energy production facilities in Romania. We must also implement digitalization in all sectors as the economy must be more efficient and there is a huge need of big infrastructure projects. As energy consumption will increase, there is an urgent need for energy production and availability for this new digital infrastructure” Says Lucian Enaru of Schneider Electric.
The German session wrapped up day 1 of BR’s Foreign Investors Summit – FIS2022. Opened with a keynote speech by H.E. Dr. Peer Gebauer, German Ambassador in Romania, the panel, titled “Building up Romanian Industry for centuries,” featured a line-up consisting of several key industry leaders in Romania, such as Dr. Christian von Albrichsfeld, Head of Country at Continental Romania, Mihai Boldijar, General Manager at Bosch Romania and the Representative of Bosch Group in Romania, VP with regional responsibilities, Andreas Lier, Managing Director at BASF Romania & President of AHK Romania, and moderator Theodor Artenie, Head of Tax at Noerr.
“The business relation between Romania and Germania is a great success, we are at a total of EUR 35 billion investments. This partnership is fruitful for both parties as Romania is more than just an economic partner, but a political partner as well.” Said H.E. Dr. Gebauer.
Romania proved itself an important partner for Germany, and the EU as a whole, a strategy which paid off as Romanian interests are now more listened to by our country’s partners, according to Dr. Christian von Albrichsfeld of Continental.
Romania’s image abroad, and in the eyes of foreign investors was another subject of the discussions, tackled by Boldijar of Bosch Group. “We all have to strive more to improve the image of Romania beyond our borders. And we need to talk less about our problems and focus on solutions.” He believes.
Another topic which is on everyone’s lips these days, the European Green Deal could provide Romania with lots of opportunities, says Andreas Lier of BASF & AHK Romania. “The Green Deal is offering many opportunities for Romania in green energy production projects. The Green Deal will come, and we are all committed to it. It offers great opportunity to Romania in many sectors.”
Economy Minister Florin Spataru delivered the opening speech of Day 2 of the Summit. “The Romanian economy must be transformed in order to not miss the opportunities we have today with all the EU programs.” He stressed.
The Minister was followed by the main session of the day, dedicated to US investments in Romania. The session was prefaced by H.E. Mr. David Muniz, Charge d’Áffaires, Embassy of USA in Romania, while the panel consisted of a strong line-up of speakers such as Perry V. Zizzi, Managing Partner at Dentons Romania, Mioara Iofciulescu, LL.M, EMBA, Managing Director at Atlantis Romania, Elisabeta Moraru, Country Manager at Google Romania, Teresa Shafer, Ph.D., Executive Dean for Institutional Affairs at Tiffin University, and moderator Ramona Jurubita, Vice-President of Foreign Investors Council – FIC & Country Managing Partner at KPMG Romania & Moldova. “Investors from the United States of America in Romania support tens of thousands of jobs. The US is an important commercial partner of Romania.” H.E. Mr. Muniz started off his speech.
Romania’s main advantage is its skilled workforce, and US investors understood that immediately, believes Mioara Iofciulescu of Atlantis. “Investors can find a beautiful country and wonderful people and also a lot of resources to do business.” She continued.
“The fact that Romania is part of the EU and NATO makes a big difference for foreign investors, especially for those from the US.” Believes Perry Zizzi of Dentons.
The closing roundtable of the Foreign Investors Summit, titled “Business between tradition and innovation,” featured insightful talks mainly focusing on the strategic ties of Romania with Italy and Israel, two of the most important partners of our country. The Ambassadors of the two countries, H.E. Mr. Alfredo Durante Mangoni and H.E. Mr. Reuven Azar sat down with Matteo Baldan, Group Chief Financial Officer at Martelli Europe, Bogdan Asanache, Country Manager at Econergy Balkan, Dr. Elena Ovreiu, CEO & Co-founder BIOdyssey. Health Innovation Hub and Senior Lecturer Politehnica University of Bucharest, and moderator Ana Maria Tepus, to talk about the importance of key investment sectors such as MedTech, agriculture, or renewable energy. And to attract more foreign investors, Romania should improve education system and focused on key infrastructure, believes H.E. Mr. Alfredo Durante Mangoni.
“Permits and processing are the two things that I would like to mention when it comes to difficulties for business in Romania. There is a fierce competition for foreign investments in fields such as real estate or IT&C, so the legislation should be more friendly, at least in terms of permits.” Concluded H.E. Mr. Reuven Azar.