Foreigners get green light to buy Romanian farmland starting 2014

Newsroom 18/11/2013 | 14:13

Foreign citizens will be able to buy farmland in Romania after the 2014 liberalization but Romanians will have pre-emption rights to purchase land that is up for sale, according to a new draft bill, informs Mediafax.

The Ministry of Agriculture had previously proposed a draft bill which would have imposed stricter conditions on those looking to buy farmland in Romania, be they Romanians or foreigners. According to the initial draft, ownership of farmland was to be limited 100 hectares and interested buyers had to prove they had background in farming and agriculture related know-how. The bill was criticized by legal experts who argued that if passed into law, it would have blocked the market.

According to the latest draft, the only limitation that will be imposed on foreign buyers will be that Romanians have pre-emption rights to purchase farmland that is up for sale.

According to Mediafax, the bill will be discussed in a government meeting this Wednesday.

From January 1, 2014, non-resident foreign citizens are set to be able to buy local land, under Romania’s Treaty of Accession to the EU. As land prices continue to be much cheaper in Romania than throughout the rest of the EU, local farmers complain they will face unfair competition from international players who have far greater financial power.

The liberalization has frequently been debated over the past couple of years, with many fearing that unless restrictions are imposed, come 2014, massive farmland acquisitions will be made by foreigners.

However, foreign investors can, and many have, circumvented the existing legislative restriction by purchasing land through locally registered companies. Some 8.5 percent of the country’s arable farmland is estimated to be already controlled by foreigners, according to official data.

Simona Bazavan

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