With GDP growth exceeding 6 percent in the second quarter of 2017, the highest figure across the European Union, Romania’s private sector says the country needs a strategy for the next decade, while policymakers expect investments to target certain sectors.
The Foreign Investors Council, the business association whose member companies have more than 180,000 employees, says firms are grappling with the constant changing of legislation that is affecting their business plans.
“Romania has an opportunity to build on the current economic growth and become one of the top 10 economies in the European Union in the next 20 years, but it has to do so wisely, ensuring the sustainability of long-term investments and reforms,” said the FIC.
Meanwhile, PM Mihai Tudose suggested that the government’s priorities are the healthcare, education and infrastructure sectors.
Romanian Academy maps Romania’s development for 20 years
In the past few years, government officials have stated that Romania’s economy should focus on attracting complex investments in research & development, or on turning Romania into a tech or energy hub. Lately, any discussion about a country strategy seems to have been abandoned by policymakers.
In 2016, the Romanian Academy published three volumes with more than 2,000 pages that outline Romania’s development strategy for the next 20 years. The initiative was carried out under the aegis of the Romanian presidency.
“Personally, I have insisted on various occasions, in various public formats or in dialogue structures with the government, on such country strategies. However, we don’t see any concrete steps from this perspective. In theory there is more interest in certain sectors, but their efficient development depends on the execution more than on statements,” said Marius Ghenea, investment director at 3TS Capital Partners.
“Romania’s priorities are simple: first of all the development of entrepreneurship in general (the most important opportunity for harmonious development and prosperity for Romania and Romanians, on the medium and long term), then the development of sectors with high growth potential such as IT, technology and other creative industries. Tourism and agriculture are the other two extremely important bets for Romania, and for their development we need infrastructure (not just motorways and airports, but also other kinds such as digital infrastructure),”added the entrepreneur.
With around 4 million Romanians working abroad, associations of private companies have launched initiatives designed to attract skilled workers back to the country, as large companies say they need specialists to develop new projects and expand their ongoing investments. And this is happening across the industries, from automotive, to healthcare, agriculture and manufacturing.
Furthermore, the main foreign investment communities in Romania are working with the authorities on implementing the vocational training system in the country. The project is still in its infancy, but private investors have suggested for years that this is one of the main routes for preparing young people for the jobs of the future.
Moving to the political realm, officials have underlined that Romania remains fully committed to the European project and NATO. In fact, Romania is one of the few alliance members that has moved to allocate 2 percent of GDP to defense spending in the next decade.