BUSINESS REPORT IN ROMANIA – Q4 2021: Legislative predictability and measures to mitigate the side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are highly needed

Aurel Constantin 29/09/2021 | 14:14

Investments continue in most of the economic sectors and the transformation and permanent adaptation to new realities remain key business priorities in the 4th quarter of 2021, concluded the participants at ROMANIA Business Forum. NEW ECONOMY AGENDA. The event was co-organized by 8 business associations, which represent some of the largest contributors to Romania’s GDP: AHK Romania – The German-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ANIS – Employer’s Association of the Software and Services Industry, Romanian Association for Smart City, ARILOG – Romanian Logistics Association, CRE – Romanian Energy Center, HORA – Employers’ Organization of Hotels and Restaurants in Romania, Hellenic-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and BUCHAREST REAL ESTATE CLUB.

 

The main figures and business realities in Q4 of 2021: 

GERMAN INVESTMENTS IN ROMANIA: 

  • Germany remains Romania’s largest trading partner, with trade volume amounting to EUR 30.9 billion in 2020. The volume of trade in the first 6 months of 2021 between the two countries was EUR 16.4 billion (+20, 5%). “By the end of 2021, we expect the figures to grow even above 2019 (about EUR 32 billion),” AHK estimates.
  • Andreas Lier, President of AHK Romania, addressed the issue of sustainability, in the context of the European Green Deal, which aims to transform the European economy into a neutral one in terms of environmental impact by 2050. “The Green Agreement it includes a policy agenda that covers many areas, from carbon neutrality to the circular economy, smart mobility and more. We need a strong industrial policy and a regulatory framework for the EU Green Agreement to be a success“, says Andreas Lier, President of AHK Romania.
  • The pandemic continues to have a strong impact on companies, especially in terms of supply chains. 81% of companies surveyed in an AHK survey report price increases or supply difficulties. With over 550 member companies, AHK is the largest bilateral Chamber of Commerce in Romania and is the official representative of the German economy in Romania.

ENERGY, THE MAJOR STAKE. ENERGY PRICE FLUCTUATIONS PUT PRESSURE ON THE ENTIRE ECONOMY, AS WELL AS ON THE CONSUMER 

  • Fluctuations and evolutions in the energy field – such as higher gas or electricity prices – will put pressure on both companies in the economy, production units and the standard of living of the final consumer, the representatives of the Romanian Energy Center (CRE) highlight. 
  • The taxation of CO2 emissions by the EU determines the pressure on increasing the price of energy and at the same time encourages new investments in renewable technologies. This mechanism can become problematic for states where the profitability of the economy is marginal, as is the case in Romania. The solutions for our country can come from 2 main directions: endorsing support schemes in terms of energy efficiency for companies and industrial consumers and managing the decrease of energy poverty in conjunction with compensating vulnerable consumers. 

REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS CONTINUE, MAJOR PLAYERS KEEP ON ADAPTING TO THE NEW REALITIES 

  • Investments continue in the Real Estate sector,. The major players keep on adapting to the new trends and user requirements, by integrating technology, diversifying their portfolios and preparing for the post-pandemic stage, according to BUCHAREST REAL ESTATE CLUB.
  • IMMOFINANZ continues its current investments both on the office segment (modernization of the Bucharest Financial Plaza building and its transformation into an emblematic myhive building, with high quality spaces and construction certification level for sustainable development Gold, as well as starting the process of transformation of Victoria Park building also in a myhive property), as well as in the retail portfolio (a complex refurbishment process of the VIVO! Baia-Mare shopping center is underway, on a​ ​10.000 sqm an area, which will be completed in Q4 2021).
  • After completing the takeover of the Campus 6.2 and Campus 6.3 buildings in Skanska, the Austrian fund S IMMO is working on a new boutique office project – Dorobanti Office Building (5,000 sqm). Mixed-use projects, which include multiple functions and facilities are the big winners following the pandemic. AFI intends to develop a new project near AFI Cotroceni, with 3 functions: apartments for rent, offices and retail spaces and Vastint plans a new phase (offices & retail) of the mixed project from Timpuri Noi.

IT & C 

  • Technology and the contribution of IT&C players will accelerate the local economy. This segment continued to grow both in terms of revenue and number of employees, despite the fiscal and political unpredictability that dominates the local landscape. In order for this sector to maintain the same growth rate, ANIS recommends continuing public and private investments and initiatives in strategic areas such as education and innovation, aimed to support the medium and long term development of the local software and services industry. By supporting the adoption of digitalization, the sector can reach a share of 10% of GDP, compared to 5.7%, according to the ANIS study launched in December 2019. ANIS is the only Romanian Employers’ Association of the Software Industry and Services. The more than 160 ANIS member companies represent approximately 66% of the total Romanian IT industry and employ approximately 42% of the IT workforce.
  • Regarding the impact of the pandemic on the employers and employees in IT&C, staff retention, employee satisfaction and productivity were the most affected by the “Work From Home” phenomenon, by 13%, 24% and 19% respectively, according to a survey conducted by ANIS among the IT&C companies. 

SMART CITY 

  • The Romanian Association for Smart City prioritizes Romania’s “smart community” strategy, based on feedback on the needs of local communities. 
  • “We are working on macro projects on digitalization and digital transformation, Smart City and Smart Village projects, but especially community development projects in relation to the opportunities offered by PNRR”, says Eduard Dumitrascu, President of the Romanian Association for Smart City.
  • In Romania there are a total of over 860 smart city initiatives. We also have relevant projects in smart villages – Sadu, Selimbar, Luncavita -, but also several other projects that develop these rural communities, located in the vicinity of large urban agglomerations, which understood the magnet role that the urban centers have and they came with solutions for increasing the quality of life or for developing the infrastructure. PNRR is an opportunity for Romania’s development, including at the level of rural communities, underlines the representative of the Romanian Association for Smart City, the Smart City industry organization with over 270 members and partners from local authorities, business, academia and civil society. 

LOGISTICS: 

  • Logistics and transportation report steady business and growing profits. Transport and logistics companies achieved a EUR 2.88 billion turnover in 2020 (comparable to EUR 2.89 billion t/o in 2019), but with increasing profits – from EUR 142.7 million in 2019, to EUR 169.2 million in 2020, according to data published by Tranzit magazine. 
  • However, several major challenges are putting pressure on the logistics sector at the moment: the lack of manpower – not only at the level of workers and specialists, but also at the higher levels of management; the lack of recognition of the sector in the national economy, hence the lack of education both at the academic level (there is no logistics faculty yet) and at the level of employers` mentality, who do not invest in staff training,” emphasizes ARILOG – Romanian Logistics Association, which brings together over 100 companies with the field of activity in logistics, distribution and adjacent fields. The slow pace of public investment in infrastructure also puts pressure on this sector, major logistics players say. 
  • The taxation of drivers’ daily allowance proposed by ANAF brings great challenges to carriers, many of them being at bankruptcy risk; on September 29, 2021, a large protest was organized in the Capital against these regulations as well as the crisis on the RCA market and the quarantine of professional drivers. 

HORECA 

  • HORECA’s contribution to Romania’s GDP is about 5.07%, according to the HORA Employers’ Organization, which supports to ease the projects and tip regulation. 
  • “The 3 main challenges of the industry are the lack of predictability in the context of the pandemic, the workforce shortage, as well as the very tense relationship between landlords and tenants,” said Razvan Crisan, HORA Vice President and Co-founder & CEO – Kane Group. 

GREEK INVESTMENTS IN ROMANIA: 

  • The Greek investments portfolio in Romania reached EUR 162 million in Q4 2021, according to the Hellenic-Romanian Chamber of Commerce. Romania ranks 5th as a foreign investment destination for Greece, and this is the 8th largest foreign investor in Romania, with a percentage of 3.8% of total foreign direct investment.
  • Greek investments continued, both in 2020 and in 2021. These were mainly concentrated in the medical sector but also in the retail / wholesale / tourism segments. Among the most recent Greek investments is ATENA MEDICAL CENTER – an investment of EUR 3 million. Also, in the first half of 2021, the Saracakis Group – a representative of agricultural equipment – started operating on the Romanian market and the international real estate management group Zeus acquired 3 hotel units in Bucharest.

All representatives of the economic sectors present today highlight: 

  • the need for legislative predictability 
  • for dialogue with the business environment, beyond political agendas (before the adoption of legislative measures with impact on the economy)
  • accelerating the digitization processes and administrative transparency at the level of public authorities
  • increasing the administrative capacity and the business of attracting European funds
  • a consistent focus on education and the growth of new generations of specialists (in the conditions of increasing pressure on the local labor force)
  • as well as the continuous need for sustainable taxation measures of the economy

 

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