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January 27, 2023

Raymond Breden, Executive Chairman of the British-Romanian Chamber of Commerce: The BRCC aims to put Romania on the map of British business

The real problem of bilateral trade between the United Kingdom (UK) and Romania is that both countries are underachieving their potential for exports to each other, and this is largely due to business in both countries being unaware of the opportunities that exist.

There is no doubt that Romania offers export and investment opportunities for UK companies in virtually all sectors. The problem however is that UK companies are not aware of those opportunities. Trying to pinpoint the reason for this is interesting, but the real challenge is how to make UK companies aware.

The UK government has stated quite clearly that it wishes to increase UK exports, and whilst it wishes to increase exports generally irrespective of the country of destination, it also recognises the importance of Romania and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as being potential trading partners.

The British Romanian Chamber of Commerce (BRCC) will shortly complete its first year of partnership with the UK Government agency responsible for promoting UK exports and investment – UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). This partnership is part of a worldwide initiative to give British Chambers of Commerce the responsibility of increasing exports and investment abroad by UK Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Romania was chosen as only one of two countries in Europe to be part of the initial drive involving over 20 countries around the world. The scheme was soon expanded to cover over 40 countries with a further four joining from the CEE region.

The thinking behind the initiative is that business is better qualified to advise business. This of course challenges the British Chambers who are in partnership with UKTI to meet this expectation. The process involves the Commercial Section of British Embassies handing over their SME work to the local British Chamber. The British Embassies will from now on concentrate on strategic high value projects where the assistance of UK Government is required.

So what do we in the BRCC do to assist UK exports and investment? Our business model is simple : we target UK companies to promote Romania and raise their awareness of the potential benefits that exist. We assist UK companies to find suitable partners in Romania. We carry out research for UK companies regarding the potential in the Romanian market not only for their products or services but also identify potential trading partners. We provide market intelligence reports. We provide on-the-ground support for UK companies visiting Romania to see for themselves the opportunities that exist. We provide advice about doing business in Romania.

The BRCC does to an extent help Romanian companies export to and invest in the UK, but this is generally done where there is also a clear knock-on benefit to the UK. UKTI has in fact entered into a separate partnership with a private consultancy company whose brief is to assist Romanian companies to invest in the UK.

The BRCC is approaching its first year of operating in partnership with UKTI. In that time it has achieved the target set by UKTI of providing “significant assistance” to 300 UK companies. The BRCC also underwent a very exacting audit by the British Chambers of Commerce which was designed to see – putting it bluntly – whether the BRCC was fit for purpose. It was, and the BRCC received accreditation to provide advice to UK companies, a fact of which we are very proud.

The BRCC is frequently asked about those sectors that present opportunities for UK companies. The fact of the matter is that there are opportunities in all sectors.

Present trade statistics do not tell the complete story. Since 2007 Romania has exported more to the UK than it imports. The favourable trade balance with the UK is Romania’s largest amongst European Union (EU) countries. The pattern of trade does not indicate dependence on one or two products.

So what is the story? It is acknowledged that Romania has many opportunities for exporters and investors in all sectors. So why are the opportunities not being turned into reality? Basically because business is not fully aware of those opportunities. How true is the saying “you don’t know what you don’t know”. The BRCC aims to change this and to put Romania on the map of British business.



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