>>> To the questions of the The Romanian Business Journal answered Mr.Wijnand Marchal, Economic and Commercial Counsellor and Mr. Arie Veldhuizen, Agricultural Counsellor to the Netherlands Embassy in Bucharest
By Constantin Radut
-What has been the evolution of bilateral trade and your estimates for the years 2018/2019?
-The trade volume between Romania and the Netherlands continues to grow, bilateral trade growing year-on-year with double digit figures – in 2017, trade between the two countries summed up to €5.1bn, an increase of almost 15% compared to 2016 (€4,45bn). For Romania, the Netherlands is a top 10 export destination. According to figures from the National Bank of Romania, the Netherlands holds the leading position with over €17 billion of investments in Romania as of end of 2016. Today, Dutch companies in Romania employ over 200.000 people, being both large corporations and small and medium sized companies or even individual entrepreneurs. This confirms the strong economic ties between the Netherlands and Romania. There is a continued interest from Dutch companies to start or expand business in Romania, so we expect the number of Dutch investors to grow in the coming years. However, there is the risk that the investment climate, the business community and Romania’s credibility as a trading partner may be affected if predictability, economic stability and transparency decrease.
-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?
-Companies are organized in several platforms to exchange knowledge for networking reasons. In Romania, the Netherlands Romanian Chamber of Commerce (NRCC) is active around the country. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Romanian Network (DRN) is supporting Dutch and Romanian companies with their business interests. Between both countries the usual agreements are relevant, such as in the field of taxation and reciprocal investment protection. Other than that, the free market oriented rules of the internal market are applicable. And as Embassy, we are particularly promoting opportunities for (business) cooperation in the areas of agriculture and food, circular economy and smart cities.
-Do you appreciate that there are areas where a better partnership between governments and / or companies should be started at bilateral level?
-On a daily basis, the Netherlands Embassy as well as the aforementioned NRCC and DRN, are improving bilateral economic ties by the establishment of specific Task Forces within these platforms. The Agricultural Taskforce in the NRCC for instance is a good example of strengthening relationships on more operational level in the field of agriculture and food chain development. Furthermore, we are working together on a Business Forum where Dutch and Romanian companies can meet. This high-level event will take place next spring and should attract companies from sectors such as agri-food, IT&C, health, transport & logistics, maritime & water and other promising sectors.
-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?
-As for foreign investments, we can name many examples. Let’s focus on some of the most eye-catching investments. Last summer, the Dutch company Damen Shipyards assumed operational control of the Mangalia shipyard, formerly known as Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries. Damen plans to shift production from cargo ships in Mangalia, to operational ships for offshore works, ferries, and cruise ships. Plans also exist to increase the workforce in the shipyard and to improve health and safety standards beyond those in place which already cover Romanian legislation.
Another example is MegaImage, the supermarket chain owned by AholdDelhaize. In the competitive retail market it managed to get a sizeable market share with over 600 stores around the country. MegaImage is known for its food experience, especially in the trendy Concept Stores that were opened in several locations. Moreover, they take their responsibility for a sustainable food value chains by investing in the quality of their suppliers. The Dutch government is also contributing in supporting Dutch companies to get involved in the development of the Romanian industry through the program “Partners in International Business”. Especially in the improvement of the food chain development like dairy production in which the Dutch company Friesland Campina is deeply involved. But also in the fields of fruit production and the establishment of modern greenhouses in Romania. In 2019 we will focus on knowledge transfer in the agricultural sector, because modernization requires next to technology also improvement of the knowledge levels.
Recently, our minister of agriculture Carola Schouten presented the updated policy on agriculture in the Netherlands. We have a common responsibility in feeding 10 billion people in 2050 which is just possible within circular food production systems. We are really looking forward to work together in the coming years in the improvement of sustainable food production in order to reduce the impact of our food production systems on the climate change worldwide.
Romanian companies also find their way to the Netherlands. Examples are AROBS that has bought a Dutch company, and Gemini Solutions which opened a subsidiary in the Netherlands.
For more information, please contact the Economic Section of the Netherlands Embassy in Bucharest: firstname.lastname@example.org.