‘Innovative Design for Sustainable Infrastructure Development’ Conference organised by the Italian Agency for Foreign Trade. Luca Gentile: ICE Bucharest Office receives each year almost 500 requests from Italian companies that want to enter the Romanian market

On Thursday, July 6, Hotel Radisson hosted the ‘Innovative Design for Sustainable Infrastructure Development’ Conference organised by the Italian Agency for Foreign Trade (ICE Bucharest Office), in collaboration with the Italian Association of Engineering, Architecture and Technical-Economic Consultancy Organisations (OICE), under the aegis of the Italian Embassy in Bucharest.

The conference was opened by Luca Gentile – Director of the Italian Agency for Foreign Trade (ICE Bucharest Office), who welcomed those present and stated that the constructions market has registered significant growth in Romania, but also brought up the weak points worth taking into consideration, namely the fact that there is still work to be done in what concerns European grants. Gentile stated that trade between Italy and Romania registered 5 percent growth in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year. The ICE Bucharest Office receives each year almost 500 requests from Italian companies that are willing to enter the Romanian market.

Beatrice Vecchioni, Aide and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Italian Embassy in Bucharest, talked about the good relations between Italy and Romania and the need to grow together and the need for bilateral collaboration in view of developing Romanian infrastructure: modernising the railways, widening the streets etc.

Maurizio Boi, Vice President of the Italian Association of Engineering, Architecture and Technical-Economic Consultancy Organisations (OICE), stated that the ‘innovation’ term used in the title of the conference is particularly important for the activity of this Association, and the fact that 20 Italian companies confirmed their participation in the b2b meetings scheduled in the second part of the event is very important.

Sorin Dicu, representative of the National Company for the Management of Road Infrastructure (CNAIR), talked at the conference about the projects about to be implemented with the help of EU grants in the 2014-2020 period. Examples of expressways in preparation stages: Brasov-Bors Expressway, bridge across the Prut River at Ungheni, Brasov-Targu Mures – Cluj – Oradea Expressway, Targu Neamt – Iasi – Ungheni Expressway, Sibiu – Brasov – Fagaras – Brasov Expressway, Sibiu – Pitesti Expressway, Bucharest North Beltway, Comarnic – Brasov Expressway, Comarnic – Brasov – Comarnic – Predeal Expressway, Bucharest South Beltway. CNAIR is currently promoting a new approach which centres on: the continuation of pending projects, the adoption of immediate measures to hasten the unblocking and expediting of the procedures for tendering and execution of projects, the start of new projects, obtaining and efficiently using both state budget funds and European grants, the initiation of negotiation procedures with JASPERS/European Commission/Management Authority for the financing of construction projects, unblocking the POIM 2014-2020 portfolio in order to ensure a maximum level of absorption at the end of the current financial framework, finalising the rehabilitation/modernisation works, finalising detour roads.

Jean Nicolaos, CFR National Railway Company’s Director of Communication and Foreign Relations, stated that the national and European strategy in the railway domain focuses on the rehabilitation of existing railways. He presented the stage of the main ongoing railway projects and encouraged the investors present at the event to invest in the railway domain, after they first obtain an agreement from the AFER.

Roberto Liuzza, the representative of ITALFERR’s Bucharest Office, presented ITALFERR’s experience in Romania, particularly the problems it ran into after the signing, in June 2007, of a contract of Technical Assistance for the Preparation of Corridor IV Rail Project Pipeline for Cohesion Fund, financed by the European Community.

Iustin Ivanescu, EBRD Associate Banker for Romania, talked about the financing opportunities in the field of infrastructure and stated that EBRD is looking for municipalities with long-term vision that it could help out with financial investments, technical assistance and consultancy.

At the end of the first part of the event, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by OICE (Italian Association of Engineering, Architecture and Technical-Economic Consultancy Organisations) and ARIC (Romanian Association of Engineering Consultants).

The second part of the conference was opened by Francesco Fiermonte, Responsible for Internationalisation at OICE, who stated that 55 percent of the activity of OICE associations takes place abroad. OICE is today 18th in the World Bank rankings, and its goal is to favour contact and collaboration between specialists.

ARIC Vice President Diana Antofie presented the critical aspects of infrastructure contracts – legislation’s lack of predictability, non-standard interpretations, the contract standards used, the local practices – and she encouraged the entrepreneurs who want to invest in this sector to come here cognisant of the existing issues, to cooperate with local partners and to analyse the risks.

Cristian Romeo Erbasu, Chairman of the Federation of Employers’ Associations in the Constructions Sector, presented the problems that constructions companies are facing in Romania: legislation, lack of confidence as well as lack of specialists and labour force, but at the same time pointed out that there are still very many projects to carry out in Romania, very good outlook and great work potential.

Liviu Rogojinaru, Secretary General of the CNIPMMR (National Council of Romanian SMEs), told the representatives of Italian companies present at the event that they are always welcome in Romania.

Florin Irimia, President of the Association of Acquisition Experts (AEXA), talked about the activity of this organisation that contributes to the improvement of the legislative framework for public procurements and good practices. Irimia presented the specific instruments for easing access to public procurements: using the capabilities of other entities, division into batches, the encouragement of preliminary market queries, using the awarding criteria, encouraging innovation, online awarding procedures, the implementation of the Single European Procurement Document, limiting requirements concerning capacity, rendering subcontracting flexible, the possibility to modify contracts without resumption of the competition.

Georgiana Tecuci, FIDIC – Central Eastern European Countries Group coordinator, talked about FIDIC, which is more than a contract, being a veritable philosophy.

The proceedings concluded with the speech delivered by His Excellency Marco Giungi, Italian Ambassador to Romania, who said that in the field of infrastructure para-economic criteria such as impact on the environment must also be observed in order to assess the development of a country.

A series of bilateral meetings with Romanian companies, associations, professionals and consultants took place in the second part of the event.

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