The Romanian Secretary of State for the Economy, Claudiu Vrinceanu, was the keynote speaker at the Doing Business in Romania Conference last Wednesday (February 3). He was joined by the newly appointed adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister, Viorel Ciocoiu, and Matteo Patrone, Director, of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to give an insight to Romania as a destination for business and investment.
The conference, which was co-hosted by the Romanian Embassy, InvestRomania, the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce (BRCC), Chelgate and Eversheds Romania, heard how Romania is currently one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. With growth of 3.6% in 2015 and projected growth of 4.1% and 4.2% in 2016 and 2017 respectively, the Romanian economy is going to forge ahead in the coming years. There are significant opportunities for the UK, but despite only currently being the 10th highest investor, many UK companies are already operating in Romania. Some examples include Vodafone, Boots, Marks & Spenser, Jaguar, GlaxoSmithKline, Unilever and BAE Systems.
One of the major obstacles to doing business in Romania has been corruption. This is becoming more of perception rather than reality as the Romanian Government continues to make strident efforts to stamp it out.
Charlie Crocker, the new chief executive of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce, said that Romania was “open for business”. Imports grew to over 40 Billion EUR in 2015, a growth of over 7%. He added that Romania had cheaper overhead costs than Western EU, strengthening institutions, developing public services, improved infrastructure and, crucially, a flexible, educated and ambitious workforce.
Taxation in Romania is also a great incentive – it is the lowest it has been for 15 years. Corporation tax is 16% and dividend tax is just 5% for both Romanian and foreign companies. The VAT rate has recently been cut from 24% to 20%, and will be cut to 19% in 2017. This will act to stimulate the economy further.
Irina Constantinescu, project manager at Chelgate Romania, spoke about the differences between public affairs, public relations and the media in Romania, compared to the UK. Ten years ago, there was no market for public affairs and no regulation: today, there is an evolving market but still no regulation.
Similarly, 10 years ago, public relations was perfunctory mainly consisting of low level media relations executed by a handful of small PR agencies. Today, we see integrated programmes and reputation management with a number of larger PR consultancies setting up in Bucharest.
The media has also come a long way. The immediate post-communist era saw many media tycoons more into personal enrichment than ensuring editorial standards. Today, there is a wave of new young and qualified journalists emerging in the country, shifting the focus away from advertising-led editorial to investigative journalism and editorial integrity producing balanced and well-researched articles largely independent from advertising influence. There is still a lot of improvement needed, but the Romanian media is well down the path to a truly independent and objective media.
Cristian Lina, the managing partner of Eversheds Romania, outlined the main elements characterising the legal environment in Romania. His presentation addressed the main trends currently governing the Romanian legal environment, and the various regulatory frameworks in Romania that are frequently considered relevant by the investors. Cristian pinpointed the new trends of the legal market such as the increase of the legal market predictability, the general alignment with the EU legislation, the fight against corruption, the implication of the civil society. In terms of the regulatory frameworks in Romania, he provided information on the formalities and costs related to setting up a company in Romania, VAT registration particularities, certain employment related requirements, property restitution claims, etc. and other practical legal aspects concerning investment in Romania.
Other speakers at the Conference included Steve Driver, chief executive, Spirit Circuits, which is currently building a factory in Romania, switching production from China, and Calin Huma, chief executive of the British Romanian International Development Gateway Exchange (BRIDGE).
All of the speakers agreed that now is a good time to be looking at Romania. There is huge potential for business and investment, with numerous opportunities emerging in both the public and private sectors. It was stressed, however, that companies coming to Romania need to have the right consultants and the right partners in place to ensure success of their venture in the country.
Full list of speakers, and copies of presentations
- Mr. Claudiu Vrinceanu, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy, Commerce and Relations with Business Environment
- Mr Viorel Ciocoiu, Adviser to the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Economy
- Matteo Patrone, Director, Regional Head of Romania and Bulgaria, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Click here for presentation
- Charlie Crocker, Chief Executive, British Romanian Chamber of Commerce Click here to download the presentation
- Cristian Lina, Managing Partner, Eversheds Romania
- Steve Driver, Chief Executive, Spirit Circuits Click here for presentation Click here to download the presentation
- Calin Huma, Chief Executive, BRIDGE (British Romanian International Development Gateway Exchange) Click here for presentation
- Irina Constantinescu, Project Manager, Chelgate Romania Click here for presentation
- Manuel Donescu, Minister Counsellor, Romanian Embassy.
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