Defense cooperation in the context of the Strategic Partnership is predominant in the dynamics of the bilateral relations between Romania and the U.S.A., but economic opportunities are at least as important, although they are insufficiently capitalized for reasons that are mostly related to the quality of the Romanian investment climate.
That the U.S. is a global leader in innovation and technology is in itself a sufficient reason - in the context of the digital transformation of the global economy - that Romania be very focused on the development of the economic ties with the U.S. Fortunately, we the U.S. – Romanian cooperation enjoys favorable premises.
In the recent years alone, Romania's exports to the U.S. have doubled compared to imports from the U.S.
Yet the structure of such exchanges is more relevant. With the main exported and imported merchandise being high-added value goods, such as computers, electronics and electric equipment, there is a great potential for Romanian companies to expand on the U.S. market, and for Romania to attract U.S. investments.
Romania is already a vibrant hub for large U.S. based technology companies which contribute to the development of the IT industry. However, for significantly increasing the bilateral trade between the two countries, Romania needs a twofold strategic approach. On one hand, our country needs a coherent and competitive economic governance. Concomitantly, Romania must join the European countries that understand the importance of a strong economic partnership between the EU and the U.S., despite the recent differences in the regulation of some areas.
Both the U.S. representatives and us at AmCham, on behalf of our members have repeatedly reiterated that in order to attract U.S. capital, Romania must ensure the prerequisites that investors regardless of their country of origin are seeking in a new market: stability, predictability, transparency, long-term priorities and commitments, rule of law. Otherwise, we are conveying distrust towards the investors’ community.
This is confirmed by the results of a recent survey among AmCham Romania members. Most surveyed companies report rising revenues and number of employees for the past year, however they have also expressed their concern regarding the increasing uncertainty of the economic outlook. At the same time, the lack of investments, especially in the transport infrastructure, as well as in the health and education infrastructure - where Romania continues to have significant gaps compared to the EU average- is considered by 94% of the AmCham Romania members responding to the survey as the main obstacle for their business in Romania.
Under such circumstances, it is obvious that the top request of the private sector is investment in infrastructure. A good news is that, according to our survey, investors believe that the quality of the digital infrastructure is a leading competitive advantage for Romania.
Consequently, a coordinated approach of the priorities that the business community consider to be of strategic importance would allow Romania to become a better contributor and beneficiary in the context of the strategic partnership with the U.S.
AmCham Romania is willing to contribute to improving the investment climate in Romania by offering the cumulated expertize of our members – U.S., international and Romanian companies, in the public –private dialogue. Specifically, the AmCham working groups we are seeking solutions to consolidate what we see the main pillars for economic growth, such as entrepreneurship, investments and good governance. Complementary, we believe that measures to address new challenges generated by the digital society, future of work or the fiscal policies also need to be adopted.
To conclude with, Romania has the potential to become a relevant market for companies that started in a very competitive economy such as the U.S., where innovation and entrepreneurship are very strong, on condition that the local investment climate offers the essential stability and predictability conditions and that the Romanian Government will seek solutions to maximize the benefits of the digital transformation brought on by the new technologies.
Opinion published in the July 4th 2019 printed edition of the Nine O'Clock.