ROMÂNIA-CHINA We have no projects for investments with China

Translated by COSMIN GHIDOVEANU
Ziarul BURSA #Companii / 9 iulie 2012

Interview with Gabriel Ghelmegeanu, the president of the Romanian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of China

Reporter: First of all, please tell me whether there have been any changes in our relations with China...

Gabriel Ghelmegeanu: Unfortunately, lately, nothing has changed in the relationship between Romania and China, meaning that, from an economic point of view, the only relevant aspect is bilateral trade. In this area, there was a reduction of the export-import gap: in 2011, Romanian exports to China have increased by approximately 25%, whereas imports have remained unchanged compared to 2010. As a result, the deficit of the import-export trade balance had a ratio of 1 to 5.5 in 2011. I use the words "unfortunately" because it hasn't been signed after all this time; in fact it isn't even one joint-venture project in Romania or any project to attract any major investment in Romania through a private-public private partnership agreement.

Reporter: Still, considering that there have been various forums dedicated to the relations between us and China and considering that you have recently received a delegation of Chinese investors, what are the areas on our market which they seem to favor?

Gabriel Ghelmegeanu: The areas which Chinese investors consider of interest are classic energy - specifically, the retooling of the existing thermoelectric and hydroelectric plants, as well as the development of new ones - and especially the sector of green energy - respectively wind, solar and biomass energy etc.

Reporter: What do you think should be done for things to evolve differently, in a manner which would lead to concrete Chinese investments in Romania?

Gabriel Ghelmegeanu: What is important for the evolution of the economic and financial relations between the two countries, is to attract the Chinese partners into major investment projects, of the ones which the Government has already drawn up and presented as priorities in the economic development of Romania. In order to be able to see through an investment project in Romania with the Chinese partners, there is a need for the government to show that it has even the barest of strategies, a strong cooperation between the ministries which the completion of every project depends on, a cooperation which needs to be achieved through the Prime Minister. We are convinced that, after one initial project were completed, the Chinese partners would gain more confidence and the development and implementation of the future projects would be far easier. As long as there isn't going to be even a hint of a strategy from Romania concerning the projects which we definitely want to develop in cooperation with the Chinese party, as long as the central and local authorities don't act in tandem with the private business sector of Romania, we can't expect major Chinese investments in Romania. We will just be left with the regrets that in the other countries of the European Union, China is making massive investments, and we are still being ignored.

Reporter: How did the bilateral trade evolve in the first part of this year, compared to the similar period of 2011?

Gabriel Ghelmegeanu: In the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period of the previous year, Romanian exports to China have remained steady, and those to Hong Kong fell to 60% and those to Taiwan fell to 70%. In terms of imports, those from Taiwan remained unchanged. On the other hand, those from Continental China fell 10% and those from Hong Kong fell 40%.

Last year, aside from our exports to Continental China, of 390.3 million Euro, we had exports of 82.7 million Euro to Hong Kong and 13.2 million Euro to Taiwan.

Therefore, we had a total amount of exports of 486.2 million Euro.

Also last year, we had imports worth 2.53 billion Euro from Continental China, 12.9 million Euro from Hong Kong, and 16.7 million Euros from Taiwan, meaning that our imports from the Chinese market amounted to 2.71 billion Euro.

As a result, the bilateral trade has amounted to almost 3.2 billion Euro.

Therefore, for the moment, a slight decrease of the trade deficit can be seen, especially due to the slight drop in the imports from Continental China.

Reporter: What kind of investments with Chinese equity do we have in Romania?

Gabriel Ghelmegeanu: On the Romanian market we can only see the appearance of the factory of ecological bricks of Ovidiu, in the county of Constanţa, called "Long Wall Brick". Other than that we have the already known investments: the Cigarette factory of the county of Buzău - where the investor is the State Tobacco Monopoly of China, the "DH Sport" bicycle factory of Deva, in the county of Hunedoara, the investments of the company "Ricky Impex" SRL of Afumaţi, in the county of Ilfov - and the bicycle factory of Moviliţa, in the county of Ialomiţa, and the retail and service network for the bicycles manufactured here and for the bikes, light motorcycles, scooters, and ATVs imported from China.

Also worth mentioning are the investments of the "F&J Grup" Romania holding in the timber industry, construction and various imports under the "Vortex" brand, such as electronics and household appliances.

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