Sebastiaan van Hese, President of the Netherlands Romanian Chamber of Commerce (NRCC): Dutch investors agree with the NRCC on the economic attractiveness of Romania

The Netherlands is the largest foreign investor in Romania and has been in that position for more than 6 years. Dutch companies have invested in many economical sectors of Romania and are very well represented in industries such as transport and logistics, industrial production and engineering, food and beverages, finance and agriculture.

The figures speak for themselves: at the end of October 2015, total Dutch-Romanian bilateral trade was in value of EUR 3,2 billion. An increase of 11,74% compared to the first 10 months of 2014. This increase is higher than 9,05%, which was the average increase registered by Romania in the bilateral exchanges with other EU member countries.

These figures show that the Dutch investors agree with us on the economic attractiveness of Romania, for valid reasons. Romania has a very favorable geographical location, lying at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, which is very interesting from a logistical perspective. Furthermore, the country hosts many educated and skilled workers with excellent foreign language skills and a hands-on working mentality, while the salary levels are among the lowest in Europe. These features are nevertheless no guarantee for future growth, so Romania needs to move towards growth from within, mainly through self-development and innovation. Lately we see Romania rising above its classical profile as just a low-cost country, in the overall supply and production chain of products; there is a shift from “cheap production“ to “added value“. We often see Dutch companies who invested in China or India return to Romania because they found that, compared to other countries with lower labor costs, the culture and labor ethos, especially that of the younger generation, are closer to the culture of western Europe, and the time difference with it is only one hour. The country also hosts relatively low corporate taxes and low business operational costs.

At the moment, official data shows that there are more than 4.700 Dutch companies registered in Romania and together with the >8,2 bln. Euro (2003 -mid 2015) meaning 21,5% FDI from Dutch investors it is making us the largest  foreign contributor to the economy of Romania. We can conclude that in parallel with being a beautiful, friendly and safe country to visit, Romania economically has caught the attention of Dutch investors for years now.

Still, there are opportunities for improvement and development in areas in which The Netherlands can help, with its strong field of experience in for example water management, energy, agriculture and logistics. The Dutch can and will support this process by bringing not only financial investment but also expertise. To give an example, Romania and the Netherlands deploy cooperation programs in fields like fruit farming, dairy farming and greenhouse building. Agricultural lands are cheaper than in western Europe and the surface of fertile land is far greater than in the Netherlands.There is a great potential for entrepreneurship in agriculture and the Netherlands can be a role model in this field.

Companies in the IT&C sector will find that Romania has one of the fastest internet connections in the world and is considered a hub for digital traffic. Besides that they will find affordable and skilled labor, although the salaries in the sector are currently rising, due to many IT companies entering the market for the above mentioned reasons.

For the logistical sector, Romania represents great potential in developing advanced logistics centers, because of the geographic position between Europe and Asia, access to the Black Sea through the Constanta harbor and the Danube that connects the sea to the inlands. It is essential that Romania will invest in its transportation network in the coming years to connect the country to western Europe, both by road and by water.

To stimulate trade, the NRCC is constantly engaging with Dutch and Romanian companies and authorities. For example, we are outlining the benefits and challenges on developing business in Romania in our ‘Nearshoring Guide to Romania’ distributed to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands, the Dutch Romanian Network, participants of incoming trade missions and the Embassy of Romania in the Netherlands. We also actively support newcomers to the Romanian market through our wide network of members who together carry the knowledge and experience that can help others succeed.

We are very positive about the future of Romania and we strongly believe that with steady and effective investments in infrastructure, education and innovation combined with financial stability, fiscal discipline and further actions to modernize the state agencies and making their actions and public procurement more transparant, Romania will deliver on its promise to become one of the brightest success stories from an economic point of view within the European Union.

 

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