>>>More than 1,500 active Austrian companies in Romania are market leaders or among the market leaders in the oil, gas, logistics, banking, insurance and other sectors
>>>Interview with Mr. Gerd Bommer, Commercial Counsellor at the Embassy of Austria in Romania
By Constantin Radut
-What has been the evolution of bilateral trade and your estimates for the years 2018/2019?
-Bilateral trade between Romania and Austria saw a strongly growing phase until the crisis in 2009, which strongly hit Austrian exports to Romania in terms of machinery and appliances exports, a clear sign of low levels of investments. Since then Austrian Exports to Romania grew in between 5 and 10 % and accelerated in 2017 and especially in 2018. For 2017 the export increase was 9,5 % to EUR 2,3 bio., in the first half of 2018 the export increase from Austria to Romania went up by 19,6 % to EUR 1,3 bio. The best fact about this growth is, that it is broadly over the diverse categories of export products. Imports to Austria from Romania were partially stable, but in 2017 grew by 8,1 % to EUR 1,4 bio. In the first half of 2018 the import growth accelerated to 10,5 % growth up to EUR 720 mio. Austria for Romania is amongst the Top 10 export destinations, Romania for Austria is amongst the Top 15 export destinations.
-Is there currently a formal framework for entrepreneurial cooperation between companies in the two countries (association, agreements, contracts, etc.)? What are the most significant cooperation projects?
-Several bilateral agreements form a basis of cooperation plus several cooperation platforms as the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (Interreg Danube Transnational Program) or the 3 Seas Initiative foster the cooperation between Romania and Austria. The importance becomes visible, as the new Vienna Coordination Office for the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (the so-called Danube Strategy Point) is headquartered in Vienna. Many other institutes try to support different areas like environment or innovation, also Austria’s Kulturkontakt tries to add a permanent cultural cooperation between the countries. Our office Advantage Austria, which is part of Austria’s Official Trade Promotion Organization, facilitates intensified economic cooperation between our two countries.
-Do you appreciate that there are areas where a better partnership between governments and/or companies should be started at bilateral level?
Especially in the fields of entrepreneurship, environment, tourism, innovation and IT an intensified cooperation could be very fruitful for both sides.
-In the field of foreign investments, what are the sectors in which companies in your country have invested in Romania and what projects are in the attention of companies in your country?
-Austrian companies are market leaders or amongst the market leaders in the sectors of oil, gas, logistics, banking, insurance, construction material, construction, wood processing, real estate, real estate development, natural ressources and agriculture. Austrian companies are active in many sectors and are concentrated on the domestic market in Romania.
-What Romanian investments are now on the business market in your country?
-Romanian companies are invested in Austria mainly by real estate companies owning e. g. hotels and also by trading companies. Austria and especially Vienna is a perfect hub into the German speaking markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland, which build up a customer potential of approx. 100 mio. people.
-In addition to the above questions, please express your point of view on the bilateral economic and cooperative relations.
-The Austrian-Romanian bilateral relations have always been great, especially as Austrian companies already invested in the 90’s heavily, thus being active as pioneers in the market. Starting in the 2000’s Romania saw a huge influx of Austrian investments and a very high level of activity. Due to the high number of Austrian investments with more than 1.500 active Austrian companies in Romania and since the financial crises new investments have been surpassed by extension, modernization and efficiency investments. Generally speaking Austrian companies appreciate the growth and potential of the domestic market and are not active in Romania because of “cheap labor force”. Especially the potential of Romania as a market is oustanding and will last for many years in terms of domestic market, purchasing power and a variety of sectors with huge potential and will not even fade, should a new crisis loom on the horizon. We are confident, that the economic, but also socio-economic development Austrian companies have sparked in Romania is highly appreciated by the Romanian side. We are glad being able to say, that Austrian businesses play an important role in Romania and express our wish on more predictability and transparency in terms of the business and legal environment.