by Mr. Rudolf Lukavsky, Commercial Counselor, Austrian Embassy in Bucharest:
The economic relationship between Romania and Austria is a continued success story. Looking at the recent figures, two major developments can be observed. Firstly, Romanian exports to Austria are increasing rapidly. As far as the figures are out in 2014, we can expect a further increase of roughly 10%. The last three years Romanian exports to Austria were stable on a record level of around EUR 1.1 bn, whereas Austrian exports to Romania decreased in 2013 by 7.5% to EUR 1.8 bn. This is evidence of the growing competitiveness of the Romanian export products, proving themselves in developed markets. Secondly, Austria is a major investor, continuously gaining share of the overall FDI to Romania. By the end of 2013, the overall investment by Austrian companies reached EUR 11.4 bn, that is 19.1% of the overall investment in Romania, compared to EUR 10.9 bn and 18.5% by the end of 2012, and EUR 9.7 bn and 17.5% by the end of 2011. According to surveys of the Romanian National Bank Austria is the second largest investor in Romania, ranking after the Netherlands. However the investment capital flow is becoming more and more complex and statistics don’t reflect fully the real origin of investment, so it is without doubts to say, that Austria is top investor in Romania and one of the major driving forces of the economic development and progress of Romania.
Even in the times of a tougher economic environment, the economic ties of Romania and Austria were strengthening and deepening. Romania is the biggest market in South-Eastern Europe, a market where Austrian businesses are particularly active. There are over 6,800 companies in Romania with Austrian capital, providing modern technology, keeping high standards for sustainable and environmentally friendly projects and social values. We estimate that the Austrian investments directly create over 100,000 jobs in Romania. The biggest Austrian investments in Romania are with OMV/Petrom and Erste/BCR. In fact those are the two biggest investments ever done by Austrian companies worldwide. Of course there are several other large Austrian investments in Romania in various sectors. Austrian companies are particularly strong in banking and insurance, oil and gas, environmental technology and services, real estate, agriculture, construction material and services, wood processing, packaging, transport and logistics and retail.
A lot of the new investment projects come from companies that are already established investors in the market. For example Salesianer Miettex opened their second industrial laundry facility in Romania, Hobas Rohre enlarged their production facilities in Bucharest, OMV continues to reinvest their profits in Romania, as examples one can mention the 600 mil Euro investment in the modernization of Petrobrazi refinery, completed 2014 and successful gas exploration activities in the deep-water sector of the Black Sea, and Schweighofer, the Austrian Investor of the Year 2014, with their new sawmill in Reci/Covasna.
However, also Austrian investments in particular in the alternative energy field suffered severely because of poor management of the energy market by Romanian authorities, and investment in general after the unexpected introduction of new taxes for buildings. Delays and shortcomings of the Romanian infrastructure and low absorption of European funds cause weaker economic activities than expected. High efforts are necessary from the Romanian government, to secure an attractive, transparent and predictable business environment.
It is a strong statement of a trusted partnership that none of the major Austrian investors has left the Romanian market in the last six years, but they have been a reliable partner strengthening economic stability. Romania has produced extraordinary growth figures over the last years and hopefully continues this path of continuous and lasting growth. Austria is proud to be a reliable partner in this process.