The economic relationship between Romania and Austria is a continuous success story with our bilateral trade volume increasing continuously over the past years. In 2018, once again the Romanian-Austrian bilateral trade has gained momentum and amounted for the first time to over EUR 4 bn. – a new “all-time-high”.
Our role, as ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA the country´s official trade promotion agency, is to keep and even increase these excellent relations between our two countries.
In 2018 Austrian exports to Romania have increased by 12.4 %, amounting to EUR 2.56 bn., with Romanian exports to Austria also registering a healthy growth of +9.3 %, totaling EUR 1.49 bn. In the first semester of 2019 it was not possible to keep the strong export growth rate from 2017 and 2018, it decreased by 3.6 % but this interim result is still higher – namely 15 % – than the record which has been reached in 2017.
Even in times of a tougher economic environment, economic ties between Romania and Austria are strengthening: Romania is among Austria’s top 16 economic counterparts worldwide and our most important trading partner in Southeast Europe. For Romania, Austria is the ninth most important import and the twelfth most important export partner.
Austria is also a major investor in Romania. According to the latest available official figures, the direct investment by Austrian companies reached EUR 8.4 bn. (pursuant to Romanian records it is even EUR 9.9 bn.), amounting to 12.2 % of total foreign direct investments in Romania by end of 2018.
Through approximately 1,500 permanently active companies with Austrian capital, our investors create more than 100.000 high quality direct jobs and are one of the major driving forces of economic development and progress in the country. Therefore, they are an important pillar of Romania’s society and an active and sustainable partner of its business environment.
These companies provide modern technology, thus boosting productivity and transferring Know-How, keep high standards for sustainable and environmentally friendly projects and promote social values. The biggest Austrian investments in Romania come from OMV acquiring a majority stake in Romania’s Petrom and ERSTE Bank taking over BCR. In fact, these two are the biggest investments ever made by Austrian companies outside of their home country. There are also a number of other large Austrian investments in a multitude of sectors with Austrian companies being particularly strong in banking and insurance, oil and gas, environmental technology and services, real estate, agriculture, construction material and services, wood processing, packaging, transport, logistics and retail.
The economic potential of Romania is without doubt one of the biggest in the EU, based on its widely available natural resources and diversified energy mix combined with its strategic location and a highly educated work force. Over the past months, we have seen intense interest in the market: SW Umwelttechnik opened a new factory, a new cinema chain entered the market and OMV-Petrom is continuingly investing. Furthermore, a diverse range of companies was carrying out assessments for potential new investments in the medium term, even if the economy should slow down a bit in the midterm. For the years to come, we therefore expect our economic relationship to tighten even further.
However, we want to become more involved in sectors like health and education, because we believe there is a need and demand here in Romania. We are exploring options to bring in Austrian companies with expertise in these fields. Another area that we see as a great opportunity in Romania but is still underdeveloped is tourism. Everybody who comes here loves the country and its people; the borders are becoming more and more open, so this sector can greatly contribute to make Romania more known within potential travelers around the world.
As a strong statement of commitment with Romania, all major Austrian investors not only maintained their presence over the past years, but also even expanded their operations and reinvested in the Romanian development. Austrian investors have been permanent and reliable partners adding to economic stability and strength. Romania has produced extraordinary growth figures over the last years and will continue this path of lasting development. Austria and its companies are proud to be reliable partners in this process.
Stability, transparency and predictability in economic policies are of utmost importance for international investors, facilitating more investments and keeping a long-term perspective for investors.
ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA has also been actively promoting the implementation of a vocational education system in Romania and has worked alongside the Romanian Ministry of Education for the past years, lending their support and actively proffering knowledge exchange. Actually, there are two ongoing projects in cooperation with Austrian companies: A three- year dual education program for auto mechanics has been implemented in 2018 in Bucharest and a similar dual education program for industrial welders has been started in Ploiești in 2019.
The current year 2019 also brought some personal changes to our team: In June, we said good-bye to our colleague Vera Maier, who joined the ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA office in London. At our traditional “RECEPŢIA DE TOAMNĂ”, where we welcomed over 300 guests together with the directors of our headquarter in Vienna from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA, Michael Otter and Astrid Fixl–Pummer, we officially announced the retirement Heinz Thenmeyers after more than 42 years with the ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA organization. Simultaneously we welcomed Stephan Stürzer, who joined our team from Buenos Aires.
“Michael Otter, CEO Advantage Austria and Astrid Fixl-Pummer, Head of HR and Resources Advantage Austria (in the middle), Gerd Bommer, Commercial Counsellor (last row on the right outside) and the Advantage Austria Team Bucharest”