Economy Confidence Index 2024: Optimism, resilience of the Romanian business environment

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The value of the CONFIDEX index, which determines the level of confidence among Romanian managers in the economy, has reached its highest value measured in the last 4 years, at 52.5, according to the latest CONFIDEX S1 2024 study. Thus, against the backdrop of declining inflation, GDP growth and heightened optimism in the local business environment, as well as internationally, regarding the economy’s performance, the index value has surpassed the previous peak of 50.2, recorded in the first half of last year.

According to the CONFIDEX study from the first half of this year, the proportion of managers who declare themselves optimistic about the state of the Romanian economy has risen to 34%, compared to 26% in the previous semester. However, 38% of them remain cautious.

The figures are an indicator of the resilience, flexibility and adaptability of the Romanian business environment to the abrupt changes in market conditions they have faced in recent years, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by rising energy prices, then the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, fiscal changes – and the ongoing wave of inflation that has not yet abated.

“Year after year, the resilience and level of confidence of Romanian entrepreneurs in their own capacity for development, as well as that of the Romanian economy, continue to grow. Thus, even amidst multiple crises the economy has endured, while caution remains the dominant sentiment, there is nevertheless an increase in optimism regarding the Romanian economy. This is due, on the one hand, to positive signals at macroeconomic level, such as decreasing inflation and GDP growth, and on the other hand to the business mindset, which has not stalled, but rather sought solutions and new opportunities to remain relevant in the market,” stated Andrei Cionca, CEO & Co-founder of Impetum Group.

According to the CONFIDEX study data, companies in the services sector are the most optimistic (confidence index of 57.1 at the sector level), followed by IT (53.7) and construction and trade (both sectors with a confidence index of 52.6). At the other end, with a more cautious approach, are businesses in agriculture (48.5), energy (49.8) and industry (51.3).

Investors are valued for their contribution to the financial stability of companies

Sources of business financing remain a constant topic on the agenda of Romanian managers. In this context, the latest CONFIDEX study reveals that 80% of managers have a good or very good opinion about investors, with the very good opinion increasing from 31% of entrepreneurs in S2 2023 to 39% currently.

“This increase in positive perception can be influenced, on the one hand, by the fact that managers have observed more stock exchange listings and concrete examples of successful exits. On the other hand, a change in mindset can also contribute: managers realize that, in order to sustain and grow, support is needed, either financial or through the exposure that an investment fund can offer to the business, compared to a bank loan that only provides financial capital”, explained Andrei Cionca.

Managers believe that investors contribute to the financial stability of the companies they invest in (62%), but they are also perceived as solely oriented towards achieving higher profits (59%). Additionally, 57% consider that investors are skilled in business, as shown by the CONFIDEX study from the first half of this year.

Nearly 90% of managers declare themselves affected by fiscal measures

Optimism is firmly grounded in reality, with Romanian managers paying close attention to the risks that could affect the economy, such as: exacerbating labor force crisis, pressure to increase wages, declining sales and inflation.

Over 4 months since the introduction of the new fiscal measures, entrepreneurs have a clearer picture of their real impact. The majority of Romanian businesspeople participating in the study state that they feel their impact. 87% of entrepreneurs in the services sector, to a greater or lesser extent,  feel the change in the taxation method for micro-enterprises. Equally numerous are the managers who experience difficulties due to the cancellation of the tax exemption for incomes over 10,000 lei. Additionally, 82% of the interviewed managers claim that taxing large businesses with at least 1% of their turnover has affected companies.

In the current market context, the main priorities of Romanian managers are increasing sales (48% of them), employee retention (26%), improving customer relationships (26%), accessing financing (22%) and digitalization and automation (21%).

The main opportunities considered by Romanian businessmen include easier access to international markets (12% of current study participants, compared to 11% in the S2 2023 study), market demand growth (12%, down from 18%) and digitalization and technological advancement (12%, double compared to 6% in the previous study). Additionally, product diversification, accessing European funds or subsidies and workforce are other significant opportunities pursued by Romanian entrepreneurs.

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