>>> Interview with Mr. Milan Peprnik, Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Romania on the bilateral economic relations
By Constantin Radut
- What has been the evolution of bilateral trade and your estimates for the years 2018/2019?
- In 2004 when the Czech Republic entered the European Union, the trade between our countries started to rise. In the past few years the Czech-Romanian relationship recorded in the sphere of trade and investments a dynamic development. Nowadays, Romania is one of our biggest trade partners in the Southeast Europe and it is due to the political (our membership in the EU and NATO), economical and trade connections and also an enormous potential of the Romanian market and a relative geographical closeness. The key part of the Czech-Romanian trade is the automotive industry. Another perspective spheres are transport industry, infrastructure, engineering, energy, agriculture and food industry, environment, software and ICT sector. In 2017 the trade turnover ammounted 4.17 billion Euros and the trade balance is almost even. It can be assumed that the growing trade turnover will reach 4.5 billion Euros in the end of 2018. The importance of Romania can be seen also through the fact that around 1000 Czech companies operate here.
-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?
-There are many agreements and contracts since both countries are in the EU. One of the latest is the Agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Environment, Waters, and Forests of Romania on cooperation in the field of forestry. We can see also cooperation between associations and chambers of commerce and I can mention for example an agreement between the Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Prahova County. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Prahova County is also collaborating with other regional chambers of commerce such as the one from the Central Bohemia Region and it has an agreeement on the European project Erasmus.
-Do you appreciate that there are areas where a better partnership between governments and / or companies should be started at bilateral level?
-As I mentioned the Czech-Romanian economic relationships are thanks to our membership in the EU on the rise. From the point of view of the trade turnover, Romania is the 15th most important trade partner for the Czech Republic. Thanks to the European standards for goods, Czech companies became much more interested in the Romanian market in the last four or five years. The biggest opportunities are energy sector, engineering and reconstructions in infrastructure. Our companies can profit from their former contacts and contracts. Specifically in the field of reconstructions of power plants, infrastructure and public transport. Other spheres are not left behind. There is a potential for chemical industry, production and sale of consumer goods, food industry, agriculture and last but not least in environmental sphere, building new wastewater treatment plants and waste management in which Czech companies are experienced. Lately, the discourse in Romania is emphasizing the need for reforms in healthcare system, modernization in healthcare institutions and digitalization in civil services. These are another challenges and opportunities for Czech companies.
-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? What Romanian investments are now on the business market in your country?
-One of the biggest Czech companies in Romania is CEZ Romania, investing 1.1 billion Euros in production of electricity from renewable sources. Its two wind farms with performance of 600 MW are one of the biggest projects of this kind in Europe. The production of this wind farm is covering 10% of renewable energy in Romania. CEZ´s presence in Romania is bringing another opportunities for other firms. It is worthy to mention that CEZ is seen in a good light. Another investors are for example Tomis Team, CEZ Distributie, CEZ Vanzare, CPI Property Group, PPF Investment Group, Chropynska Strojirna, Renomia, Alef, RC Reinvest Group. If it is about Romanian capital invested in the Czech Republic, there are mainly companies built by Romanians who moved to the Czech Republic and the investment ammounted around four million EUR.
-In addition to the above questions, please express your point of view on the bilateral economic and cooperative relations.
-As I said, for us Romania is one of the most important partners in the Southeast Europe and ally. Our billateral relations are confirmed by visits of the highest representants of both states. The Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bucharest is trying to help in the sphere of trade between our countries and it is actively cooperating with the CzechTrade Agency in Bucharest, Czech Centre Bucharest and chambers of commerce and industry in the Czech Republic and in Romania. It is organizing seminars, business missions an it is present at fairs and exhibitions. An important role has our Honorary Consulate General in Timisoara and the Czech community in Romania. What helps our relations the most is Romanian friendliness, openness and knowledge of languages.