By Cristian Cojanu
Their geographical proximity and similar views on most international issues provide Croatia and Romania a solid basis to build on stronger bilateral ties. In an interview with Business Arena, His Excellency Davor Vidiš, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Bucharest, spoke about the Embassy's role in developing relations between the two countries and emphasized the major potential for increased economic cooperation.
Austria's Commercial Counselor Rudolf Lukavsky continues to focus on facilitating more partnerships between Austrian and Romanian businesses and more investments, to building on the 38 per cent hike in bilateral trade since his arrival in Romania in 2009. In an interview with Business Arena, Rudolf Lukavsky emphasized that a clear and predictable legal and tax framework would make his mission in Romania a lot easier.
Ambitious, creative, innovative, highly skilled, courageous and powerful women took center stage last night at Business Arena;s 2015 Most Admired Business Women Awards Gala. The seventh edition of this special gala brought together some 200 guests at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, celebrating women's achievements in the workplace and their vital contribution to the success of business and banking activities throughout Romania.
Romania's economy enjoys good run. Better than expected. The National Statistics Board put the first quarter GDP growth at 4.2 per cent, while the Finance Ministry said the consolidated budget had an excess of 6.0 billion lei in the first four months of the year. Revenues amounted to 76.03 billion lei, representing 10.9 per cent of GDP, exceeding last year's January - April level by 12.1 per cent. In turn, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has improved its forecast on Romania's 2015 economic growth to around three per cent.
While public administration officials claim that investment is slowing, as civil servants and ministers avoid approving projects for fear that they might become targets of anti-graft investigators, investors and business executives generally see the intensification of the fight against corruption as a positive move, which was long overdue. Meanwhile, there has been some good news on the investment front: automotive parts manufacturers Draxlmaier and Federal-Mogul have recently announced their investments in new production units at Codlea and Ploiesti, respectively.
Without a doubt, 2015 is off to a tumultuous start. We have seen a surge in terrorist threat and there is still no end in sight to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Greece has sent shockwaves across Europe, as a radical left-wing party promising to end austerity won the elections and triggered increased concern about the future of the Eurozone. To further complicate matters, the Swiss franc hike has caused a stir in the markets across the continent.
Meanwhile, the Economist Intelligence Unit expects the global economy to continue growing at a disappointing rate. In a recent report, the EIU said:
In the wake of the recent financial crisis the debt management market offers attractive opportunities. And with some 500 employees and seven years' experience in the Romanian market, KRUK Romania is ready to expand and further consolidate its business, Tomasz Ignaczak, the company's General Director, told Business Arena. He spoke about the company's achievements and development opportunities, and at the same time he outlined its main objectives in the current economic background.
Unpredictability, volatility, hard work, little rewards. Those words came up time and again during Business Arena's 2014 Financial Leaders' Hall of Fame Awards Gala, as business leaders shared their views about the general economic trends and their financial results this year. And everyone agreed they'd had higher expectations. In his opening remarks at the 14th edition of this special awards gala, Raiffeisen Bank Romania's CEO, Steven van Groningen, pointed out that the lower interest rates had failed to trigger a boost in lending, arguing that the move had not been enough to stimulate the appetite for investments.
Garanti Bank has had a good year and its financials support that. In an interview with Business Arena, Ufuk Tandogan, CEO, Garanti Group Romania, emphasized that the bank's success in this highly competitive market was based on its flexibility, efficiency and on the use of state-of-the-art technology. Moreover, the bank is also planning to continue to expand its branch network with a view to consolidating its growth, according to Garanti Group's CEO, who also speaks about the most successful projects this year and the bank's future strategies.
After two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction, Eurostat gives Bucharest more worrying news. The country's industrial output dropped 2.7 per cent in August from the month before. In addition, the International Monetary Fund has reduced its estimate regarding Romania's 2014 economic growth to 2.4 per cent from 2.8 per cent in June. To further complicate matters, the government has been working with an eye on the presidential elections and, predictably, investors are concerned.