Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu invited German investors attending a Romanian-German Economic Forum in Munich on May 15 to take advantage of the investment opportunities offered by Romania in the auto industry or the information technology, but at the same time to explore eastern Romania, not only the more familiar areas in the country’s west.
Tariceanu underscored that Romania offers such tax advantages as the 16 percent flat tax or a cut in the health insurance contribution and it has made moves to cut red tape, and he stressed Romania benefits from highly skilled labour, able to contribute to the development of highly competitive sectors.
The prime minister said that, while he does not pretend to have stamped out corruption in Romania, the last Report of the European Commission highlighted the constant progress made by Romania in this respect, by having drafted a new Criminal Code or by having set up the National Agency for Integrity; the Government wants nothing else but to establish a sound economic climate, one in which the foreign investors should be able to develop their businesses, he added.Tariceanu, on the other hand, called on the German investors to take advantage of such tax breaks by also developing businesses in the eastern and southern Romanian areas.
"The German firms" interest so far has been directed to the western and central areas, that are somewhat familiar to them. I invite you to Romania to areas having a potential still not enough exploited", the prime minister told the German business executives, citing in this respect the central Brasov area or southern Romania, the city of Craiova notably.
In this context, Tariceanu spoke about the recent investment made by U.S. auto giant Ford in Craiova and stressed there is room for a German auto company too.
"There is room in Romania for a German 100 percent auto company", Tariceanu said, adding however he has no details of a possible Mercedes investment in Romania, a piece of news that had been circulated by the Romanian media.
Besides the auto industry, the premier cited the opportunities offered by Romania in the IT sector and even the real estate sector, where the investors" profit reaches "almost indecent" rates at more than 30-40 percent and even up to 100 percent.
With respect to the infrastructure problems currently facing all the countries in the region, the Romanian prime minister said that no major and coherent programmes for the development of such infrastructure have existed so far, but the Government, in the last year, has sought to start such programmes; he added that besides the Transylvania motorway, direct links between other areas of Romania to this motorway will be established.
Tariceanu, however, stressed there are still a lot of things to be done and Romania doesn’t yet have a satisfactory capacity in this field. "We are not able today to draw up a programme for the construction of motorways at 500 kilometres a year", the prime minister said.
Tariceanu pointed out that the Government’s concern isn’t to attract investors as a result of very low labour costs and he stressed, in reference to the Nokia case, that Romania doesn’t seek to take advantage of the delocalisation of certain production units from other European countries.
"The moment Nokia came to Romania to develop an industrial project, it didn’t communicate us in any way its intention to leave Germany. The Romanian Government was earnest. We agreed that Romania’s economic development should not be achieved by the delocalisation of industries from other European countries", he added.
Tariceanu also answered questions referring the privatisation plans that the Romanian Government has, and he underscored that still to be privatised are some small or medium-sized companies in energy and transport – railways and air – but pointed out that such privatisations will not be made in order to attract money to the budget, but so as to boost the competitiveness of those companies.
The prime minister cited 3.5 billion euros Romania gained from the privatisation of its largest bank, the Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR), explaining such money can only be spent within the limit of the budget deficit approved in Parliament.
Chairman of the German economy’s Eastern Committee Klaus Mangold said "Romania cannot be interesting on the long term, as long as it relies only on a low labour cost" and added he knows of the plans that some German firms in the auto component industry have to invest in Romania.
Chairman of the Munich Chamber of Commerce and Industry Erich Greipl at a news conference quoted a survey conducted among the Bavarian companies, out of which a vast 40 percent said Romania is the country offering the biggest development opportunities in the European Union, with its only competitor outside the EU space being Russia.
Greipl stressed Romania can become a bridge to link Germany and the countries in Eastern Europe, being one of the most adequate access routes to the markets in that area.
Bavarian Premier Gunther Beckstein praised the Romanian taxation system and underscored that the German minority living in Romania is a good bridge to link the two sides, adding the Romanian state has treated the ethnic Germans in an exemplary manner, by having rendered them support for the return of property or by the opportunities offered them to come back to the country.