Interest in foreign investments shifts towards southeast

As industrial parks and areas in western Romania become saturated, foreign investors have begun to identify undiscovered areas and focus their operations in newly created locations with development potential, such as Oltenia.
The Romanian Agency for Foreign Investments (ARIS) is currently handling projects worth above 5bn euros, mostly for car part production.
“Cluj is the best prepared from an administrative point of view and we could send any investor there, but there’s not much space left. Now, interest runs high in Oradea, Beius, and Calarasi has attracted around 200m euros. We’re supporting Craiova and southern Romania, but we’re also trying to send investors to Moldova,” stated Monica Barbuletiu, ARIS vice-president.
The biggest investment in Cluj was finalised by Nokia Finnish mobile phone producer, which will be followed by producer of electrical engines Emerson, which is set to build 5 plants in Tetarom II industrial park in the wake of 125m-euro investments. According to Barbuletiu, the 5bn-euro projects are mainly investments started in the past, which are about to be finalised or expanded, but there are also some new projects, attracted this year.“As examples, we have Pirelli, Renault, Continental and Draxlmaier, which now wants to expand to Brasov,” she says.
“We’re making assessments and we are in contact with many city halls, but not all of them know how to negotiate with an investor (…),” said Barbuletiu. So far, western areas have boasted the highest investment retention degree, where companies like Continental, SEWS, Takata-Petri and Draxlmaier operate, followed by southern areas, with the Mioveni industrial park and the area around Ploiesti, where Michelin, Yazaki and Timken factories operate.
The around 90 projects the agency is now assisting with a cumulated value of 5bn euros, will generate more than 35,000 jobs, according to ARIS data, mostly in the car and constructions industries.
The biggest project on the agency’s table, that of Austria’s Voestalpine, involving funds worth 5.5bn euros, will also create as many as 5,000 jobs, should the investment be carried out in  Constanta.
Foreign direct investments in the first half of this year climbed to 4.7bn euros, up 35% from the same period of 2007. The sectors managing to attract the biggest number of investors were car part production, constructions, services, the banking and real estate fields, as well as telephony and communications, just like in previous years.
Barbuletiu added the 35% growth rate posted in H1 would maintain in the second half of the year, so that the volume of investments will revolve around 10bn euros. “(…) In 2009, we’ll have at least as many investments as in 2008, and if we manage to prove we’re serious about infrastructure, we’ll lure even more investors,” said Barbuletiu.
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