How would you characterize the relationship between Romania and Turkey after having had the experience of also living here for the past 5 years?
Economically, Romania and Turkey have developed and continue to develop a strong bond – historically, sociologically, economically etc. As a matter of fact, this year we celebrate the 94th anniversary of Turkey’s National Day, since Turkey was proclaimed a Republic, while in just one year, Romania will celebrate its 100th anniversary since the Great Union in 1918. We each have lived important moments in time.
Currently, Turkey is one of Romania’s important trading partners outside the European Union and I am convinced that our relations will continue to develop over the years.
So far, the commercial collaboration between the two countries has been favored by geographical proximity. At the same time, both Turkey and Romania have mutual needs in certain high value added segments, such as the auto segment. Also, Turkish investors are particularly attracted by the advantages that Romania offers on many levels, such as the low cost of skilled labor force, financial state aid, while the efficiency in attracting EU funds could also be a big plus. Moreover, banks have strong policies of supporting investments and the development of the economy.
What are the advantages of investing in Romania?
Romania is currently expanding at the fastest growth rates in EU, while still maintaining its macroeconomic stability. One of the most important growth pillars is labour, while emphasis on education can increase overall productivity. In this sense, enrollment in professional education has increased constantly, making transition to workplace faster. Also, labour force participation is also increasing, while overall labour costs are still very competitive. The cost of living is around 12% cheaper than in other CEE states. Another main advantage is the banking system, which is very well-regulated, monitored and governed, and puts great emphasis on the development of the economy. The market has great potential, in many sectors of the economy and especially in constructions, as infrastructure works will have to be a focus in the medium term. I would further have to mention the rich natural resources, including surface and underground waters, fertile agricultural land, oil and natural gas.
One other important advantage is the EU membership, which ensures a gateway for many investors, to better penetrate the European markets.
There are many things that can be done and many areas where Turkish expertize can make a great difference.
How does Garanti Bank estimate the evolution of Turkish investments in Romania?
We are an active supporter of all entrepreneurs that invest on the local market, including Turkish entrepreneurs, especially taking into consideration the fact that Turkey is one of Romania’s most important trading partners outside the European Union. According to 2016 data, Turkey is Romania’s fifth economic partner. There are currently around 15,000 companies with Turkish capital activating in Romania.
For the following period, we expect the same positive developments given Romania’s economic potential and the increased interest of investors from both countries to develop further areas of collaboration.
How would you characterize in few words Romania’s economy?
Romania is one of the strongest markets in Europe for technology investment and trade, with a highly skilled technology workforce, good cost-quality balance, top-tier investors and a friendly business environment. Unemployment reached a post crisis low in the first six months of this year, inflation is moderate, growth is above potential at the moment, but the country has good economic parameters and an investment grade rating from all rating agencies. The banking sector has a lot of opportunities, more than the region, with a potential lending gap of 15% in GDP, while being very well capitalized. Economic growth could exceed 5% this year, helped by the fiscal relaxation, especially the increases in public wages, which drove double digit hikes in the private sector as well.
What are your suggestions for Turkish business people and investors that wish to come to Romania?
Garanti Bank can be regarded as an example of how Turkish businesses can grow in time. We are a living and functioning Turkish landmark that stands proof in this sense. We have been activating on the Romanian market for almost 20 years. We have organically grown within this timeframe, building a solid client portfolio and a strong branch and ATM network nationwide. We have launched new products based on our clients’ needs, setting new bars in terms of technological development. As a token of recognition, Global Finance has awarded Garanti Bank Romania this year for the 10th time in the last 9 years, naming us Best Consumer Digital Bank in Romania. In time, we have developed a sound relationship with our clients, in all business lines, whom we address with integrated services, offline, as well as online – we also have a strong presence in social media, having the second largest Facebook fan base among Romanian banks. Last year, we launched our Mobile ME application, for both Android and iOS. We have grown into a systemically important bank. We are currently the 10th bank in terms of assets in the Romanian banking system and in the long run we plan on consolidating our position and continue to be a trustworthy financial partner for our clients.
As a matter of fact, if you are a Turkish investor, with a business plan that includes developing outside the Turkish borders, Romania is among the first markets to be considered. Garanti has an important and strategic presence here, and you can be sure of the fact that you will have a strong financial partner by your side, every step of the way.
What does Garanti Bank do in Romania in order to support local entrepreneurship?
Garanti Group Romania has an active strategy of supporting the local business environment.
Business wise, both Garanti Bank and Garanti Leasing have signed in the past years, including 2017, important agreements and partnerships with international financial institutions, such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB), and the European Investment Bank (EIB). All have been in support of SMEs’ development and facilitating their access to finance, in order to grow and bring their contribution to the local economy.
Throughout time, we have stood by the Romanian Business Leaders Foundation (RBL), aiming to assist local young entrepreneurs to further develop their business skills by providing entrepreneurial education. We have also been a supporter of the Professional Women’s Network Romania Association (PWN), which focuses, through its Entrepreneurship Pillar, to provide entrepreneurial education to women who are interested to start or develop their own businesses.