Interview with Daniela NEMOIANU, Executive Partner, KPMG and
President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania (AmCham Romania).
The American Chamber of Commerce in Romania (AmCham Romania) has a very clear objective: to facilitate the development of suitable business opportunities for U.S. companies in Romania, as well as domestic companies planning to expand to U.S. Which are the achievements of AmCham after more than 20 years since its establishment here?
AmCham Romania is the association of choice for advocacy and business growth in Romania. The organization now represents over 430 members, not only companies with an U.S. footprint, but also international and Romanian enterprises. Along its over 22 year activity in Romania, AmCham has become the leading voice of the business community and a reliable source of expertise for the authorities through consistently promoting its members’ recommendations for Romania’s increased economic competitiveness and attractiveness for investments, a structured and open dialogue between the government & businesses, efficient public administration and management of public funds, sound business ethics & anticorruption practices, a strong CSR culture, an increased role for Romania within the EU structure and at a regional level.
Enhanced economic relations between Romania and the U.S. is a strategic issue on AmCham’s agenda and our contribution mainly consists in promoting recommendations for a better economic governance and for making Romania more attractive to investors, including from the U.S. We strongly believe that the broader collaboration platform – The Romania – U.S. Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century represents a favorable framework for a more dynamic trade exchange between the two countries and with the upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) we have reasons to believe that Romania – U.S. trade figures will go up.
How would you shape the profile of the U.S. investor on the local market and what are his domains of interest in Romania and vice versa?
Traditionally, U.S. companies target industries that offer major opportunities, such as: information, technology and communication, automotive, energy, medical and pharmaceutical, food & beverages, banking and financial services, agriculture. Most U.S. investors are large corporations with a significant presence throughout Europe. They have remained committed to Romania and moreover many have constantly expanded their Romanian operations. AmCham would always stress in the dialogue with the decision makers that better public policies and measures aimed at supporting the investment community are effective ways to drawing more investments from companies already exposed to the local market.
From your point of view, what are Romania’s strengths compared to other countries in Europe?
Romania, like many countries in the region, has registered lower FDI levels over the past couple of years. Investors, regardless of their country of origin, have been more prudent in their decisions and competition between states for attracting capital, sharper. At the same time, any investor’s appetite is directly conditional upon a transparent, predictable and level playing field business environment. U.S. businesses are interested to see a stable economy and consistent policies aimed at long term-strategic vision and increasing the country’s competitiveness, on top of the traditional market advantages that Romania enjoys – size, strategic position, wealth of natural resources, skilled labor force, etc, but which can no longer sustain a steady inflow of investments in the new global economic context in the absence of a viable integrated country model for the future.
U.S.A. are some of the most important investors in Romania for many years already. From the data available now, how the economic relations (trade statistics) between the two countries look like?
The statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau reveal a relatively stable evolution in terms of U.S trade in goods with Romania when comparing Q1 2014 with Q1 2015.
Thus, after the first four months of this year, U.S. trade in goods with Romania shows that the exports reached USD 290.5 million, increasing compared to the same period last year – USD 281.5 million. The imports also grew from USD 672.6 million in January – April period in 2014 to USD 679.7 million at end-April this year.
We are confident that continued efforts to improve internal investment and regulatory climate are likely to positively influence trade relations between the two countries. Moreover, as already mentioned, the TTIP will contribute to increasing trade between the EU member states and the U.S. and if adopted in due time, the first results should be visible beginning with 2017.
Although, your mandate as President of AmCham has recently begun, respectively this March, you earned 18 years of business and management advisory experience with KPMG in Romania and CEE. So you know very well the domestic business environment. Have you noticed any changes in all these years? In your opinion, what local authorities should make to open more its doors to foreign investors?
The global economic outlook is certainly challenging for all countries, including Romania. In such a context, policy makers need to better explore new growth paths and conduct consistent, systemic reform processes to unlock new opportunities for economic development that can maintain the optimistic perspectives on Romania.
The first quarter of 2015 revealed positive FDI inflows which is a good signal for the market but which needs to be coupled with increased investments from other sources such as the EU financing, capital markets, public funding, all directed to strategic sectors for visible results on the short to medium term.
We believe that a predictable, level playing field and stable business, political and legislative environment is key to the progress of Romania. I mention the importance of the Good Governance Measures Action Plans 1 and 2 adopted by the Romanian Government in 2014 and 2015 which are expected to have a positive impact once fully implemented.
I strongly believe and AmCham’s view is that Romania needs a long-term strategic country project focused on competitiveness and value differentiators. We promote this concept and invite stakeholders to align and contribute to such essential exercise.