The head of state told Gulf businessmen that drawing investments is the only way to bridge the development gap between Romania and other European states.
By 2015, Romania will have had EUR 5 bln worth of EU funding available to invest in infrastructure, a sector which, along with others, could help the country get out of the unfortunate effects of the financial crisis and be instrumental to economic growth, yet, this calls for a great deal more investment. ”Efficient investments can be made in any field in Romania. The development gap between Romania and other states could only be bridged by drawing investments,” President Traian Basescu said yesterday in his opening speech of the Romania-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) business forum.
He made the point that the local business environment is not hostile by any means, but one that’s extremely competitive, though it needs adjustments red tape wise. He also brought up the argument of Romania having a banking system that did not yield to crisis, a sound system tested under the current difficult economic conditions, a well-trained labour force and a friendship, a tradition by now, towards Arab states education wise.
“The crisis was an extremely painful lesson to Romania, if you look at the figures alone. Figures however would not tell you the whole picture, yet, the crisis taught us something extremely valuable, namely that an economic growth based on consumerism alone and a real estate bubble is not healthy by any means. We have learned the lesson of unsustainable economic growth and aim at sustainable economic growth able to capitalize on the country’s resources in the first place,” the head of state said, according to whom resuming economic growth is the prospect to year 2011. The rise in the Growth Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011 is put at 1.5 – 2 pc, yet “it would be sound economic growth and not one relying on speculations and excessive consumerism”.
BASESCU ADVISES ARAB GUESTS TO VISIT ROMANIA BY HELICOPTER, AVOID ROADS
When stating there was room for investments in all sectors, Traian Basescu mentioned the energy sector, farming, tourism and infrastructure. According to Basescu, Romania has an energy surplus and set out to become an important energy player in South-Eastern Europe, and he invoked, as an example, among others, the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Inter-connector (AGRI) project, which presupposes the transport of natural gas from the Caspian Sea region on the Baku-Kulevi-Constanta route, then, through the existing Arad-Szeged pipe (Hungary), to Western Europe. As regards farming, according to the head of state, Romania may play a key part in reducing the effects of a potential food shortage. “We shouldn’t ignore, as we all did, warnings such as the one regarding the financial crisis. (…) Romania has a potential for farming which could meet the needs of over 80 million people,” Basescu argued. Furthermore, he stated, Romania has, at the moment, 4 million hectares of organic land, which is, in practice, the second surface in the EU, after France, which boasts 4.5 million hectares.
For tourism, Traian Basescu advised investors who really wish to see Romania to travel by helicopter. “The infrastructure for tourism, alongside the railway and road infrastructure, is out of date, it needs modernising,” the head of state added. Also present at the event, Elena Udrea, the minister of Regional Development and Tourism, stated that the development of the Southern Romanian seaside, setting up new ski resorts and the development of spa tourism were only a few of the projects which she proposed to Gulf investors.
The participants on the first day of the Romania – GCC countries economic forum also included Ion Ariton – the Economy Min, Anca Boagiu – the minister of Transports and Infrastructure, Sheikha Lubna Bint Qasimi – the United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Trade Min and the Romanian Foreign Ministry’s state secretary, Doru Costea.