Francois Coste, the president of the French Trade and Industry Chamber in Romania (CCIFER), tells BR in an interview that the official visit of French president Emmanuel Macron underpins the strategic partnership that exists between the two countries. He says that French companies are continuing to invest locally, with their combined direct contribution standing at EUR 4.2 billion.

How do the French companies see Romania currently in terms of investments?

For the French companies, Romania is an attractive country for several reasons: the market size (second in Central and Eastern Europe), the competitiveness leverage, in terms of talents, technology or innovation. The advantages are mutual, as in exchange, French companies are injecting capital, employing directly 120.000 people, investing in talents, transferring know how and contributing to the development of the Romania SMEs.

For these reasons, France is among the major investors and commercial partners of Romania : more than EUR 4.2 bln are invested and more than EUR 7.4 bln were traded last year. More than 3000 active French companies are employing about 120 000 people.

What are the main current challenges faced by French investors in Romania?

For the investments to grow and attract new companies, it is important to be able to  increase their productivity to compensate the sharp increase in labour costs and to have an open social dialogue within the companies in order to get a balanced social ecosystem.

Infrastructures are very important : roads, but also health, education, environment infrastructure, allowing to develop human capital, human resource availability and of course connectivity inside and outside the country.

The availability of human capital is a major concern for all companies: it is important for Romania to maintain and develop their skills, but also to project themselves here in the long run.

What are the perspectives of investments in Romania for the next 5 years?

Opportunities are still present for foreign companies in tourism, food industry, services, environment, oil and gas and the list could go on. Romania is far from being saturated as the local economy is growing at a fast pace, consumers ‘power leads to market sophistication, and investments are empowering innovation and technology.

For these opportunities to materialize, stability, predictability and competitiveness are extremely important.

How does the French investment community perceive the visit of president Emmanuel Macron in Romania? Will it support the development of new projects with French capital in Romania?

This visit is very important as it is scheduled only 3 months after the French elections and contributing to value the historic and strategic partnership between the two countries: economic, politic, cultural and European partnership.

French companies have never lost their appetite for Romania. Last year CCIFER accompanies about 100 new projects looking for suppliers, clients or investment opportunities.

Will Macron’s visit in Romania have any impact on Romania’s profile as a key economy in this region (CEE)?

The agenda of this visit is about major topics for both countries as the European partnership. Economy is a strong point of the bilateral cooperation. Romania is also preparing its future leadership of the European Council and France is an historical ally.  A French-Romanian Season will also take place between end 2018 and 2019, with cultural, social but also economical projects. All this creates a strong dynamic and builds up a key player regional role.

Is CCIFER engaged in any dialogue with the new government of Mihai Tudose? What’s the feedback?

CCIFER is actively involved in the public dialogue. We do this directly with our own White Books, as last year regarding Construction sector or with conferences gathering French expertise (as recently on sustainable cities)

We are also actively involved through Coalitia pentru Dezvoltarea Romaniei, where there is a comprehensive agenda of reforms in progress, discussed with different ministries and the prime minister.

We believe that business environment contribution is important for the authorities in order to be able to calibrate and to forecast the expected reforms. Feedback is rather positive, especially in task forces, where experts from all sectors and a diversity of companies are investing time and knowledge in order to provide documented positions and impact studies.