Talking about the economic relations between Germany and Romania is generally a pleasant task. Germany has been Romania’s most important trading partner for many years now. German companies are among Romania’s biggest investors and employers while German brands are visible in everyday life and the label “made in Germany” has a good reputation in the country.
However, economic relations are not only about figures or brands, but are also about people – indeed I would go so far as to say that they are mainly about people. Therefore it is a pleasure for me to highlight this important side of our economic relations and to talk about how this contributes to the exchange of values and to a greater understanding between our two nations.
Stronger trade and economic relations are bringing Romania and Germany closer together. A large number of Romanian citizens live and work in Germany and are very well integrated into the labour market and society, and are therefore contributing to Germany’s economy. Furthermore, increasing numbers of Germans are coming to work for German or other international companies in Romania. They bring with them a management style that is influenced by a different culture and mentality, as well as German expertise in specific fields. Some of them even fall in love with the country and its people, decide to stay and start their own businesses, while others gain valuable experience in an emerging market and move on.
Romanian managers’ experience is nevertheless very valuable for German companies active here, and we have established a tendency among German companies to employ or to hand over the management to Romanian managers, because they know the local market very well, speak the language and can be just as professional as their German colleagues. In this way, German and Romanian colleagues exchange ideas, experiences and information every day through their business relationships. That is why it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate between what is “German” and what is “Romanian” in a company – or even tell whether a company is German or Romanian.
But this is actually not all that important. The important thing is that the companies contribute to the prosperity of both countries, that they create jobs and knowledge and that they drive economic growth as a result. The unemployment rate in counties such as Sibiu, Cluj, and Timiş, where German or German multinational companies are particularly active, is lower than in other parts of Romania. These regions also score more highly on the basis of other economic indicators such as income or GDP. It appears that successful German-Romanian business partnerships are contributing to such positive developments.
The fact that this is not just a unidirectional phenomenon is also important to mention. There are also Romanian companies that are seeking to expand in Germany. Just recently, the Romanian health food chain Salad Box from Cluj announced that it was opening a restaurant in Heilbronn and has plans to open several others in Germany while the Romanian IT company Accesa has already made inroads into the German market. Meanwhile, at an individual level, Romanian managers are taking over management positions within German or international companies abroad. The fact that the former CEO of Kaufland Romania is to take charge of Kaufland’s business in Germany is a very recent example.
Furthermore, we see the same tendency when looking at the more “institutional” representatives of the German economy in Romania, such as the German Chamber of Commerce or German economic associations in which Romanian members play very prominent roles.
Tourism is another field in which the exchange is taking place in both directions. Germany is the second-most popular tourist destination for Romanians while over 12% of foreign tourists visiting Romania are from Germany. Germans are traditionally the biggest single group of foreign visitors to Romania – and the numbers are increasing.
In conclusion, commerce, production and finance are in themselves very important and we are happy to see that the upward trend of recent years is being maintained. However, there is an additional effect that we need to keep in mind, which is that this economic exchange brings our two countries, our two nations, our two societies and our two peoples even more closely together every day.