Ireland and Romania are growing into strong trading partners. According to Irish official figures, 2014 exports of goods from Ireland to Romania reached € 357m and imports from Romania stood at € 98m. Trade is dominated by multinationals on both sides – Romania imports Irish pharmaceuticals and exports clothing and office equipment. However, small and medium-sized companies also continued to increase their footprint. In April 2014, over 50 Irish companies participated in “Doing Business in Central Europe” conference in Dublin which marked 10 year anniversary of EU enlargement.
A number of Irish companies participated in subsequent sector-focused seminars and met new Romanian buyers. Dozens of Romanian high-tech companies travelled to the Dublin Web Summit in November 2014.
Enterprise Ireland (EI), as the Irish government agency responsible for development and internationalisation of Irish indigenous companies, has a major role in encouraging trade links between Ireland and Romania. These mainly Irish small and medium-sized companies are active in a wide range of sectors but the most prominent ones include software, medical devices, hi-tech manufacturing, agriculture and environmental technologies. They now account for more than 300,000 jobs in the Irish economy, around 16% of total workforce. A special attention is paid to startups– in 2014, Enterprise Ireland committed investments in 102 new firms.
Ireland’s economy is certainly on the rebound: the European Commission’s Winter Economic Forecast revealed a record GDP growth for Ireland in 2014 of 4.8% – underpinned by economic recovery of key trading partners, investments and increasing consumer confidence. A strong GDP growth of 3.5% is also forecast for 2015.
There was also good news on the inward investment front. IDA Ireland reported that there were 197 investments in 2014, equating to a 20% increase on 2013. There was a notable rise in new name investments, with 88 new investors in 2014, up by 13% since 2013. Among the leading investments secured in 2014 were Amazon, LinkedIn, Air Bnb, PayPal, Ericsson, SAP, Johnson & Johnson and many others. In February 2015, Apple announced an €850m investment for a new data centre, to be located in Athenry, Co Galway.
While there are opportunities in many sectors in Romania, the country has especially great potential in agriculture and food production, which are areas which can surely gain from partnership with Irish companies in farming machinery and technology. At the other end of the spectrum, Irish SMEs are firmly embedded in international supply chains. We will see more of them in the market following international manufacturing and service companies setting up in Romania. Other sectors where Irish companies are starting to be active in Romania include energy, clean technologies and medical devices.
Enterprise Ireland has an active engagement with Romania through regular trade missions with its Irish clients. Our team, supported by the Irish Embassy in Bucharest as well as experienced local consultants, works on developing market entry strategies, researching the market and existing competitors, identifying opportunities, undertaking product benchmarking and providing assistance in finding agents and distributors in Romania. Enterprise Ireland and Irish companies also benefit from the support of the Romania Ireland Business Association (RIBA) that provides a vital networking platform between Irish and Romanian businesses.
Romania and Ireland have developed close economic ties since Romanian accession to the EU in 2007. For both sides, the future holds real and growing promise of further expanding our economic partnership.