There is no doubt that Romania is an exciting market for exporters and investors with an appetite for valuable opportunities and long term commitment. Regrettably, the lack of knowledge about this country stops it from featuring among the most targeted markets despite the richness of its opportunities. For example, few people in the UK know that Romania, the biggest country in South-Eastern Europe, is one of the main points of attraction of foreign investment in the region, especially in fields such as Infrastructure, Energy, Agriculture, Tourism, Energy, Communications and Financial Services.
Take for example Romanian Agriculture. It has the capacity to feed 15-17 million more people than Romania`s population, but it is underdeveloped. Significant EU funds (€8.15 billions) are available for Romanian Agriculture between 2014 and 2020, to be invested in projects such as: modernising farms, processing units and infrastructure, developing agricultural exploitation and encouraging start-ups in agriculture, forestry, organic agriculture and know-how.
Let`s not forget the fact that Romania has a very well qualified, predominantly English speaking labour force, as well as the fact that due to the difference in the cost of living, it’s currently more affordable to invest in Romania than elsewhere in the EU.
In terms of consumption, this upper-middle income country is the 7th largest member of the EU 28 by population (19.98 million) and the 9th by size, with a surface area of 238,391 square kilometres, almost as big as the UK. Romania is the second largest consumer market in Central and Eastern Europe after Poland. Together with its neighbouring countries, Romania is part of a 100 million consumers market, and due to its strategic position it offers easy access to countries of the Caucasus, former CIS, the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa.
It is true that Romania is not an easy market, but it is equally true that it provides many opportunities, and it managed to recover quickly from the global financial crisis due to prudent macroeconomic management. If all this has convinced you to pay attention to the Romanian market, here there are three pieces of advice to guide you:
Research your business opportunity thoroughly and get to know how business works in Romania. Statistics, accounts, articles, all offer you valuable but unfortunately incomplete information. You need talk to someone who can give you information from real life experience, someone who knows “what’s really going on there” before planning a market entry strategy.
You might need a local business partner, especially if you consider accessing the available EU funding for Romania. Even if you need just distributors or agents, ideally you should research your potential business partner carefully before making any attempt to get in touch with them. As on any other market, all that glitters is not gold. A market entry specialist to undertake the selection and screening of potential business partners and do the introductions would be an optimal choice. Just sending an e-mail to your potential Romanian business partner will probably not work. In most cases the mailing system will send the email straight to the junk, or the Romanian counterpart might fear to reply. In any case, you will need someone the Romanian business people would trust to introduce you. You might want to use an intermediary for negotiations too. This will decrease the danger that you will meet unrealistic expectations over price.
Business in Romania is about relationships, and trust is the main ingredient which could save you considerable time and money. It could take time until you manage to build a business relationship. Romanians like formal approaches (such as Mr / Mrs Surname) which is considered to be a way of showing respect. Only after your relationship has developed a bit you could call them by their first name and only if they allow you to do this. Though formal, Romanians are innovative, they have a broad imagination and are not fussy, but they are proud of their country and history. Once you get to know them, you will realize you have found a good partner for dialogue as well as someone very enterprising.
Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Hungary, Cyprus, and Israel are Romania`s main foreign partners in trade and investment. Foreign companies in Romania have about 50% of the Romanian turnover. So we encourage you to explore this exciting market.
` IT IS TRUE THAT ROMANIA IS NOT AN EASY MARKET, BUT IT IS EQUALLY TRUE THAT IT PROVIDES MANY OPPORTUNITIES, AND IT MANAGED TO RECOVER QUICKLY FROM THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS DUE TO PRUDENT MACROECONOMIC MANAGEMENT. `
Lorela Broucher is Managing Director of Europe Market Entry Services Ltd trading as The British Romanian Consultancy, an enterprise specialised in providing market entry services to EU and non-EU businesses committed to doing business in Romania and Central & Eastern Europe. For more info, visit our website at: www.thebrc.co.uk