Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to head, for the first time,
Romania’s Delegation to a session of the Joint
EFTA-Romania Committee. We are here prepared for an open and
friendly discussion on maters related to the implementation of
the FTA and on identifying additional means to amplify the
trade flows between our countries.
The EFTA States and Romania reached an historical decision,
in December 1992, when signing the FTA. The radical changes
opening the way of democracy and market economy in Romania were
thus recognised. New opportunities for increased trade were set
up through the establishment of a free trade area.
Since the entry into force of the FTA between the EFTA
States and Romania, new developments in the European
integration process and its consolidation have been registered
for each of the Parties to the Agreement. The establishment of
the EEA (European Economic Area) involving the EU and all
current EFTA’s States is a proof. Romania’s
decisive orientation towards accession to the EU and the
negotiations under way for this goal are another proof.
All the Parties to the Agreement are also original Members
of the WTO, which rules and disciplines are now a common
feature for all of us. We are also working closer within the
WTO in its current activities as well as in preparing the
coming Ministerial Conference.
At this Sixth session of the Joint Committee, all the
Parties to the FTA have to welcome that the provisions of the
Agreement, as initially negotiated, are being enforced
accordingly to the agreed timetables. Moreover, a number of
improvements have been agreed and enforced during the period
elapsed since the agreement has been put into force. I will
recall, inter alia, the European cummulation of origin
and a number of other amendments to the original agreement
creating new trade opportunities for the Parties.
We are now so close to the celebration of a decade of
application of the Agreement. All of us - as Parties to the
Agreement - have to express our satisfaction that the
provisions aiming at establishing the free trade area have been
rigorously enforced by all and each of the Parties to the
While recognising and highly appreciating the correct
enforcement of the Agreement, it is also our duty to better
understand and identify, by common efforts, solutions for two
factual questions concerning the modest levels of trade flows
between EFTA States and Romania:
why they are not in line with the patterns of their
overall foreign trade flows, and in particular with their
European trade flows; and
why they are registering a continuous decline (as trade
share) in their overall exports and imports in a time where
all Parties are involved in a closer co-operation with the EU
and their trade in the region is continuously increasing in
absolute and relative terms?
In this frame, we believe that one of our priorities for the
next future should be to start a common reflection on how to
increase and diversify bilateral trade, and take full advantage
of the preferential trade regime, including through higher
The economies of our countries have a substantial potential
for further development of the mutual trade. I would like to
briefly point out some key elements of the economic situation
in Romania as well as of the Government Program for
Romania’s economy is, as size, the second largest one
in Central Europe and has a great economic potentiality
significant and well trained human resources, including high
skilled IT specialists, a developed network of research and
design institutes and a moderate wage structure;
an important agricultural potential, a good industry, energy
and raw materials ensuring prospects for the development of
many economic sectors;
an industrial structure that, in spite of weaknesses
inherited from the centrally planned regime, can reach high
technological and economic performances, through completion of
the privatisation, restructuring investments and a better
The main target is re-launching the economy, reversing the
severe recession occurred during the transition process which
led to the production and investments decline, hyperinflation,
trade and balance of payments deficits, high unemployment. The
Government program is based on structural adjustment and
economic development policies aiming to stop the decline of the
economy, create the pre-requisites for economic recovery and
prepare Romania for accession to the EU.
Recent data indicates that:
In the year 2000 the GDP registered an increase of 1.6%
after several years of dramatic decline. Its positive trend is
continuing, preliminary figures for the first Quarter of 2001
indicating a raise of 4.6%.
The industrial output is still well below its 1990 level,
but a growth of 4.2% was registered in the first Quarter 2001
as compared to the same period of the previous year.
A growth of 4.7% is registered in the same period in
New jobs have been consequently created and the unemployment
rate fall to 9.9% in April 2001 from 10.4% in March 2001 and
11.9 in April last year.
The foreign trade is continuing its dynamic trend registered
in the previous years. However, the growth of the imports is
higher than that of the exports: 36.8% and 19.6% respectively,
resulting an increase of the trade deficit from 297.7 millions
US Dollars in the First Quarter 2000 to 820.1 millions US
Dollars in the first Quarter 2001. It is worth also to
emphasise that in March this year the monthly value of the
exports was for the first time higher than 1 billion Dollars
(more precisely 1047 millions US Dollars).
Foreign Direct Investments made in Romania reached more than
6 billions US Dollars at the end of 2000. According to
provisional data of the National Bank, Direct and Portfolio
Foreign Investments reached 276 millions US Dollars in the
first two months of this year.
The above mentioned recent features of Romanian economy
could represent encouraging signs of the economic policy of the
Government. One of the main targets of the Governing Program
for the period 2001-2004 is the recovery of the national
economy. In order to succeed, special attention is attached
an appropriate structural adjustment aiming
at efficiency and competitiveness;
setting up a strong and efficient private
sector, through continuation and completion of the
privatisation of major industrial companies;
stimulation of foreign investments;
development of the foreign trade and
improvement of the business environment;
promoting a wide and permanent dialogue with the
international financial institutions for setting up an
effective partnership, as well as a reliable climate.
I would like to point out some of the recent measures,
adopted by the Government, for general improvement of the
business environment, as well as for the setting up of a more
stable and predictable legal framework.
In order to speed up the privatisation
process, including higher foreign participation, a new
strategy has been developed. Guidelines have been drawn-up, as
well as approaching ways to this important and sensitive topic.
The Authority for Privatisation and Management of State
Ownership is presently working, in co-operation with World Bank
experts, to prepare an unique privatisation
code, with the aim of simplifying and harmonising
procedures and regulations in the field. The objective of the
completion of the privatisation of the major industrial
companies was clearly established. The privatisation will
include, in the next months, a number of such companies, for
example plants producing steel, tractors, electric equipment.
We are confident that we will thus enlarge the list of already
registered “success stories” in privatisation also
in the banking sector (ROMANIAN BANK FOR DEVELOPMENT and
BANKPOST), in the machines building industry (the car maker
AUTOMOBILE DACIA), in telecommunications (ROMTELECOM),
shipbuilding and in the field of rolling stock.
As regards the foreign direct investment
area, a draft law has been drawn up, presently being under
debate in the Parliament Commissions. It is foreseen to
strengthen incentives for investment and simplify procedures. A
Department for Foreign Investors was set up, under the direct
co-ordination of the Romanian Prime Minister, backing up major
investments exceeding 10 millions US Dollars. A Ministry of
Small and Medium Sized Enterprises has been established which,
among other tasks, envisage to set up an
information center dedicated
to the SMEs’ business development.
As regards the European integration
process, Romania’s accession to the EU represents a
strategic priority and adequate measures were already taken in
order to accelerate the process of negotiation and to fill the
gap vis-à-vis other countries that are currently more
advanced in this process. Romania’s intention is to
provisionally close, by 2004, all the chapters of negotiation,
thus ensuring the technical premises for finalising shortly
thereafter the negotiations. January 1st, 2007 is
being maintained as a deadline for accession of Romania to the
EU. The Government pays thorough attention to the preparation
and conclusion of the chapters with strong impact on the
running of the market economy in Romania.
Before concluding, I would like to briefly refer to the
status of economic relations between Romania and EFTA
We have noticed that there are differences between the trade
flows data presented by Romania and the EFTA side. In spite of
these differences both data are conducive to similar
First, significant fluctuations of the exports and the
imports on a year-to-year basis were registered.
Second, the share of the mutual trade in the overall trade
In this context, it still remains an important potential to
be explored in order to reach higher dynamic and values of the
trade flows between Romania and each of the EFTA Member States.
We also point out that investors from EFTA States are already
present in Romania. Their investment amounted to 157 millions
of US Dollars at the end of 2000, Switzerland ranking among the
first 12 foreign investors in Romania. It is encouraging to
note that the share of the EFTA origin capital in the overall
FDI investment in Romania is higher as compared to the
corresponding trade figures (2.5% as compared with 1.2%, in
2000). However, being well known the huge potential of your
countries, on one hand, and the good opportunities offered in
this area by the Romanian economy, on the other hand, there is
good prospective of improvement in this area too.
Consequently, I would suggest to promote enhanced
co-operation and exchange of information, including through IT
channels, between our national bodies in charge with trade and
economic promotion. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania,
through its Department for Foreign Trade and Economic Promotion
is ready to contribute to this process.
I would also like to suggest to work together to establish
an EFTA-ROMANIA BUSINESS FORUM as a mean for enlarged and
closer contacts between business people and professional
associations from our countries. This would be complementary to
other promotional activities carried out on a bilateral basis
and would contribute to a higher awareness of the trade and
investment opportunities in the free trade area between our
countries and their integration in the European structures.
Thank you for the kind attention.
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