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August 8, 2022
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H.E. Rahul Shrivastava, Indian Ambassador to Romania: India is now the land of opportunities, Romanian entrepreneurs can also be part of India’s development

Indian companies are showing interest in Romania, particularity in IT, pharma, agriculture and renewable energy sector. Since, Romania is a member of EU, an India-EU trade agreement will further boost India Romania trade relations, H.E. Rahul Shrivastava, India ‘s Ambassador to Romania told Nine O’Clock in an interview granted prior to the  upcoming event (July 27-29), carried out by the Indian Embassy in Romania together with the representatives of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, aimed at  promoting  trade and investment with India in Romania and to create a better connection between the business environments for the two countries.

-We all come after two very difficult years, which put us in trouble trial, in all respects, and 2022 is also a challenging year. In all this international context we allow to classify it as at least “uncertain”, how do you characterize trade and business relations between India and Romania? How have the business partnerships between the two countries developed in the last two years and what is the “atmosphere” at the moment?

 

-Before coming to present-day trade and economic relations between India with Romania, I would like to inform the readers about the historical background of India-Romania bilateral relations. Romania has had traditional links with India, even before India’s independence. Rabindranath Tagore visited Romania in 1924 and he was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Bucharest. Also, around the same period, one of the most famous Romanian writers and philosophers, Mircea Eliade, followed courses of Sanskrit at the University of Calcutta. After the Second World War, there were many cultural bilateral exchanges.

India and Romania established diplomatic relations in 1948. Soon after the setting-up of diplomatic relations, apart from political visits, the first thing that both countries started was cooperation in the field of science and technology. India and Romania started cooperation in the areas of petroleum, petrochemicals, power and metallurgy. Romania was involved in projects in oil refinery at Guwahati and Bihar, the thermal power plant in Singareni, the Mangalore palletising plant, the Durgapur agglomeration plant and the Hyderabad tractor plant. The first state-owned petroleum refinery in Guwahati was established under technical assistance from Romania.

India and Romania share a history of diplomatic cooperation. India and Romania have worked together to overcome obstacles, be it the pandemic or the process of humanitarian evacuation of Indian nationals from Ukraine through Romania, returning to the motherland.

Indian traders are very keen to benefit from the strategic location of Romania and the friendly relations that India has entertained with the hospitable people of Romania for more than seven decades. India and Romania established a mechanism of Joint Economic Commission, to further strengthen the economic ties and bilateral investments; so far, delegates of two countries have met eighteen times under this Joint Commission framework. Major Trade Chambers of India have had a longstanding cooperation with their counterparts in Romania. A six-member delegation from Tata Advanced Systems participated in the Black Sea Defence and Aerospace Exhibition – BSDA 2022 held in Bucharest from 18 to 20 May 2022.

For the past five years, India-Romania bilateral trade figures have been between $ 750 million to $ 850 million. In spite of the challenging times caused by the pandemic, in the year 2020, India’s export to Romania was $ 372 million and, in 2021, Indian export reached the figure of $ 592 million. In comparison, Romanian export to India has not increased significantly. However, Romania’s export to India was $ 263 million in 2021. Although global economy is passing through a turbulent time, the recent trade figures indicate that India-Romania bilateral trade has maintained a steady pace and the final annual figure could touch the $ 1 billion mark in the current financial year. India and the EU restarted negotiations on  India-EU Trade and Investment Agreements, including the Geographical Indicators (GI). The signing of these Agreements will further intensify bilateral trade between India and Romania. In recent years, Indian workforce has been filling the shortage in manpower in Romania.

 

-India is a cultural, and a fascinating civilization with 1.3 billion of souls, 22 official languages and over 1,000 dialects. In everything that this paradise of diversity can offer, some Romanian investors, especially those at the beginning of the road, may feel overwhelmed and think whether they still have  “place” in the Indian the market. Is that so? What message do you have for the young Romanian entrepreneurs?

 

-With a GDP of $ 3.1 trillion, India is the world’s sixth largest economy. India is a country which has one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world, emerging as a major centre of growth today. Foreign investors currently trust the Indian market, with the Government’s liberal and transparent FDI policies, wherein most of the sectors that are open to FDI work almost automatically. To further liberalise and simplify FDI policy for providing ease in doing business and attract investments, reforms have been undertaken recently across sectors such as coal mining, manufacturing, digital media, single brand retail trading, civil aviation, defence, insurance and telecommunication. During the past four years, India has recorded $ 302 billion foreign investment, which is the highest FDI ever. Today, the world is realizing that India means business and is beginning to trust India’s products more than ever.

Romanian entrepreneurs and investors can take advantage of the Indian market economy, and choose those sectors in which Romania is traditionally strong, such as niche technologies, IT, machinery, agro-processing and defence. Romanian investors can transform India into their export hub for Asia and other parts of world. It is also true that there is competition on the Indian market, but Romanian entrepreneurs should accept the challenge, as there is enough place for everyone under the sun.

 

-The road from initiative to implementation of the idea can be long and difficult, and India certainly has its particularities of fiscal and bureaucratic order. What a Romanian entrepreneur, who wants to develop a business in India, should know, and what is the shortest period in which a Romanian investor can open a business in India?

 

-Successive Indian governments have been implementing policies of economic reforms, and, for the past eight years, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has been following robust, transparent and liberal economic policies. India is intensively using information technology, artificial intelligence and digital technology to upgrade the lives of its 1.3 billion citizens. New India is a ‘Digital India’- every process of trade, tax collection, banking, financial transactions, tender processes being digitalised.

India, today is a part of the top 100 club in Ease of Doing Business (EoDB), ranking 63rd in 2020.  India has created specialized agencies like Invest India to provide guidance to foreign investors. Investing in India is simple and easy, and the approval process is not very complicated. The Embassy of India to Romania is ready to guide Romanian entrepreneurs and will provide all necessary assistance to those who are interested in investing in and trading with India.

 

-What expectations do Indian partners, especially companies, have from the Romanian government, so that our partnerships prosper and expand for the benefit of all parties involved?

 

-Major companies like Wipro, Genpact, SunPharma (formerly Ranbaxy), Dr. Reddy’s Labs, UCO Raymonds, Sun Wave Pharma, Thakral Group (IT infrastructure), FERCO Group (forest and wood products), Prodigy (IT software), Prime Healthcare have significant presence in Romania. Arcelor-Mittal has considerable investments from Europe into Romania. Indian investment in Romania is around $ 1.5 billion.

Nowadays, no Indian company can participate directly in the Romanian government tenders from India, companies need to wait for a sufficiently long time for the granting of a work visa, the Romanian tourist visa procedure is also quite lengthy. In spite of these shortcomings, Indian companies are showing interest in Romania, particularity in the IT, pharma, agricultural and renewable energy sectors. Since Romania is a member of the EU, India-EU trade and investment agreements will also further boost India-Romania trade relations.

 

-We have followed with interest your previous interviews and know that you chose Romania because it is a beautiful country that enjoys a rare geostrategic position. Do you think we make the most of our resources and if not, what do you think we should improve, so that our private environment and our external partners have more chances to develop in Romania?

 

-Ever since I came to your beautiful country as Ambassador, I have had the opportunity to visit different parts of Romania and interacted with many Romanian friends of India.

Blessed with a multitude of natural resources, Romania has the potential for sustainable development of its economy and industry. India can certainly be Romania’s partner in its development process. There is a tremendous potential for cooperation between India and Romania not only in trade and investment, but also in the field of tourism. India offers an endless plethora of choices for all categories of tourists, be it for adventure lovers, those who enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of nature or for the courageous in matters of gastronomy. India offers e-tourist, e-business and e-medical visas for its Romanian friends.

 

-What are the facilities that Romania can offer to Indian companies that want to do business in Romania?

 

-Romania offers some facilities to foreign investors of which Indian investors can undoubtedly take advantage. One of such facilities is the state fund for the expansion of one’s business in Romania or the opening of a new business; others are preferential utility rates and tax rates, as well as quick allocation of land. Indian investors can benefit from the skilled and well-trained Romanian labour force. The Constanța port and the Danube river can be used as gateways for their trade in Eastern and Western Europe by the Indian traders.

 

-At the end of this interview, we would like to take a brief look at the knowledge and cultural elements that define the Indian people. In this regard, would you like to share with us a little bit of traditional Indian wisdom and tell  us if there is any, a proverb that guides Indian business people?

 

India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (in translation, The Everlasting Festival of Independence) to commemorate 75 years of independence; I would like to emphasize the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the world is one great family, as one of the basic philosophies of Indian civilization since ancient times. It is an ideal that has inspired India for thousands of years and this ideal can be felt in the very fabric of our constitutional values. The principles of compassion, of helping those in need, of building the capacities of our neighbours, or even those farthest away, constitute the core of our society, these being the principles that we bring and promote to the international community.

The Embassy of India in Bucharest tries to bridge the knowledge gap by sharing information about India in Romania, as well as information about Romania in India. We publish weekly newsletters, promote articles about trade opportunities with India in newspapers of Romania, do regular social media posts related to tourism, culture and trade, as well as business opportunities. We also organize monthly events promoting India.

In order to promote trade and investment with India in Romania and to create a better connection, the Embassy of India to Romania is hosting an exhibition at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania in Bucharest from July 27 to July 29, 2022.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend our invitation to all companies in Romania and India to visit the exhibition and develop sustainable partnerships together.

 

-Thank you very much!

 

 

 

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