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September 19, 2019
BUSINESS SUPPLEMENTS

Romania, one of the most important partners for Turkish investments

Interview with Aykut Akbulut, President of the Turkish Businessmen Association (TIAD).

What would be from your point of view the most attractive domains for Turkish investors?
Turkey is one of the main countries that have invested in the Romanian economy, both directly through Turkish companies, as well as through Turkish companies registered in Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and other Western European countries. Turkish investors are interested in domains such as infrastructure, health, agriculture, constructions, so on and so forth. Before 2008 there were more investments in industry. After 2008 Turkish investors had agriculture and energy in view, because the profit from agriculture and energy is stable and has a much lower risk compared to trade. Hence investments in these domains plus several logistics brands, Ekol Logistics for instance, were successful investments.
Is Turkey still the most important regional investor for Romania? And why is that?
Romania is one of the most important partners for Turkish investments, considering the very good bilateral relations, the geographic proximity, the thousands of Turkish capital companies activating in Romania, the European Union membership. TIAD has a single purpose. To be there for our members, to solve all the problems they are facing.
Likewise, we present Romania in various cities in Turkey, especially in the industrial areas, including Istanbul. In the last two years we have brought very large companies. Eti, biscuits, an investment of approximately EUR 50 M; Sutas, the biggest dairy producer in Turkey, an investment of approximately EUR 40 M; Shishejam, world’s second largest glass producer, an investment of approximately EUR 60 M, plus four other investors that brought around EUR 200 M last year and we continue to bring very large companies. We cannot name names for the time being because the projects are not finalized yet.
We can also state the fact that the number of Turkish companies that come to Romania is on the rise. We currently have 13,250 companies and we believe this number is rising. Turkey is third in the rankings of investors in Romania, with the possibility to grow, although it is not easy.
Did you have Turkish investors that left Romania?
No. Maybe in the constructions sector. However nobody is leaving anyway, they only lower their activity. And I’m saying this without being modest. To organize 5-6 large events in which to promote Romania’s image in Turkey is not to be neglected. We are receiving 10-15 commercial delegations and we are sharing the data and the experience we have. This month we had a delegation and we have another one scheduled on March 20. Basically there are at least 2 delegations each month.
Another problem is that investors are coming but one does not find a company with which to collaborate. If you won’t invest then at least there should be an exchange of experience and this aspect is very important. If you don’t invest, you don’t associate, then at least we should have a talk, a visit to Turkey in which Romanians would see how business is done there and the other way around.
How important is political support for investments?
We consider political support for investments important in case it offers government stability, predictability and European legislation. The most stringent problem is when the government is changed. Something is discussed with the minister at first and then sudden changes take place. And we start over from scratch. Because it takes years for an investment to get it up and running. The governments change so fast we don’t know who to talk to. For instance, in September 2013 we organized a business lunch with Prime Minister Victor Ponta. The Premier was very satisfied because he had direct talks with 33 large companies. Two or three of them had investments of EUR 150 M. It’s a commitment we took towards Romania. That is why political support is very important. We are certainly interested in the business side, but we are looking for political stability. We want collaboration. At one point there was talk about a tax hike, which basically confused us a bit. Every investor is making a longer-term plan, because that seems normal to us. Just like in the green energy case. If I am paying double the price of electricity what do I gain? And this is not solely about Turkish investors, it’s about all investors.
In the shortest of times we will have a meeting with Prime Minister Ponta because the Premier is on the investors’ side. Overall we are very satisfied with the way the Premier tackles this aspect.
Do you believe there will be Turkish companies that will get involved in the privatization tenders of some Romanian state-owned companies?
We are sure that Turkish companies will be present at the tenders that will be organized for the privatization of some state-owned companies. An important role will also be played by the actions to promote and present them, as well as the inclusion of some conditions that would eliminate lack of clarity and possible interpretations of offers.
What can you tell us about bilateral trade in 2013?
As is known, Turkey is Romania’s most important partner when it comes to trade with countries outside the European Union, having a share of approximately 21 per cent in Romanian exports and approximately 12-14 per cent in imports. In fact, Turkey is the 4th destination for Romanian exports after Germany, Italy and France. The volume of bilateral trade stood at approximately EUR 4.5 bln in 2013, hikes being registered both in the case of exports and imports. We have the certainty that bilateral trade will have a positive evolution this year too, registering both a rise in volume and a continued diversification. It has to be emphasized that a lot of Romanian companies with Turkish capital have important exports to other European countries, to countries from the Near East and Asia.
What important events will TIAD organize throughout 2014?
As I mentioned earlier, the Turkish Businessmen’s Association (TIAD) has already organized a series of events in Ankara and Istanbul, in the form of Business Forums which were attended by Turkish companies interested in getting to know the Romanian market’s potential. TIAD collaborates very well with the Turkish Union of Chambers of Commerce and with the Turkish Committee for International Economic Cooperation (DEIK), promoting the actions organized both in Romania and in Turkey, supporting the visits of Turkish businessmen to Romania, actively taking part in organizing official visits in the two countries, translating into Turkish and English the Investors’ Guide for those interested in the Romanian economy etc.

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