Fresh News

Wednesday, 09 June

Prime Minister Florin Cîțu attended the opening of Romania – Israel Business Forum, occasioned by the state visit of President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin to Romania

Prime Minister Florin Cîțu’s opening remarks at Romania – Israel Business Forum

 

Dear Mr President,

Dear colleague, Minister of Economy, Claudiu Năsui

Distinguished guests,

 

I think it is no better representation of how strong is our relationship than what we see here today. Economic ties are strong between Romania and Israel and I thank you all for this. I am glad to be here, to have the chance to talk about business and economy, it is a favourite topic of mine as an old economist.

This is a very special occasion – we are launching today the first in-person Business Forum organized in Romania during the pandemic. We are still during the pandemic but the conditions which you have seen so far, have allowed us to have this debate today. It would not have been possible without all our combined efforts and sustained vaccination campaigns in both countries.

It is a sign that we are beginning our return to normalcy. It has been a challenging time for all of us, but I am pleased to see this significant and extended business representation. 

Thanks to a widespread and more effective vaccination rollout, a complete resumption of normal life, as well as global economic recovery are in sight. We can look at the vaccine as a RESTART button that our economies need, after last year’s negative shocks from the pandemic.

Acceleration of vaccine deployment, a gradual easing of restrictions and fiscal stimulus proved to be the best economic policy available today to get economies and employment growing again.

Romania and Israel share a special relation built over time – be it at the Government level, people-to-people contacts or business communities. Israel is Romania’s closest ally and strategic partner in the wider Middle East and a globally trusted partner.

In 2021, Romania and Israel are celebrating 73 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations. During these years, both our countries worked together to forge ever-stronger ties – political, cultural, social and economic.

This Business forum provides us with the opportunity to expand our excellent bilateral relation with new ideas, new projects and new opportunities. You have mentioned already 137 projects.

 I hope that the spirit of entrepreneurship will double that of friendship that characterizes our bilateral relations, to make it more meaningful and more successful.

At the same time, this Business Forum is an important element in the preparation of our next Government-to-Government meeting that we look forward to organizing in Bucharest at the nearest mutually convenient date. It is a key objective on our side and we are ready to host it as soon as possible.

Our bilateral economic cooperation is flourishing and we would like to see this trend consolidate in the future, in a balanced manner for both sides.

Today, I am glad to share with you that during the past years we witnessed an upward trend in our bilateral trade. I should mention that in 2019 we recorded a peak of 657.7 million USD. Nevertheless, we believe the current setback is not going to influence the short-term prospects, the overall 2020 numbers being higher than those registered in 2018. This means that we are firmly continuing the positive trend. During the first three months of this year, our bilateral trade amounted to almost 180 million USD. I wish to emphasize that this coincides with our positive economic recovery after a challenging year due to the pandemic.

All economic forecasts point to a strong recovery for Romania. In 2021, if we look at the European Commission’s estimate, it is a 5.1 economic growth, but if we look at the World Bank, it is 6 percent, and if we look at the IMF’s estimate, that is now the most optimist of all, it is a 7 percent economic growth for Romania, in 2021. These are not just numbers, these are more jobs, more money for Romanian people, better investment opportunities for everyone, a better life.

After a sharp contraction in 2020, exports are expected to rebound in 2021, we have seen the numbers yesterday that exports are growing for the first time in a long time, faster than imports, supported by the gradual recovery of global trade.

Even before the start of the pandemic, the World Bank classified Romania as a high-income country for the first time, an important development for investment decisions and for accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This is a trend that we are striving to maintain in the post-pandemic world. Romania is ready, has been ready to join OECD, and we have always appreciated the vocal support of our business partners for Romania to be part of the OECD. 

 

Distinguished guests,

 

I am pleased that top Israeli companies in the field of aeronautics, energy, infrastructure and constructions, to name only a few, chose to invest in Romania. Hope they will expand their investment and other top companies will follow.

This is the Government that will reform Romania, and this is the Government that welcomes investment to Romania, I know that in the past, this was not the case.

Romania is favourably positioned in Europe and plays the role of a regional hub within the European Union and in relation to its diverse neighbourhood.

We are here today talking about investment and especially about future economic partnerships because we have not ignored lessons from previous economic crises.

First of all, our approach to the economic crisis was right. We kept the capacity production intact in the economy, we paid government bills on time, things were not the same in the past. As much as possible, we postponed the taxes due to be paid to the Government by companies, this year or the next year.

Most importantly, we invested, this was the priority, we welcomed investment and we invested. Every month since we took over in 2019, meant a record investment month and this is the key to our recovery. And Romania is on the path of one of the fastest economic growth in the EU, this year. The other important lesson, especially in times of great uncertainty, was the predictability of government actions. Again, I know that in the past, that was not the case for the Romanian Government.

Knowing in advance what to expect is a crucial strategy for a resilient business environment. For my Government, improving and ensuring predictability is well-established as one of the pillars of effective government.

It is simple, we do not raise taxes, we do not change the rules in the middle of the game, and very important, this Government is going to stay here until at least 2024, but plan to govern beyond that.

 I encourage the Romanian and Israeli business communities, in cooperation with their respective governments, to identify a common flagship project which will harness the rich experience the two countries have in research, education and business.

This is a relevant theme for the Joint Economic Commission and the newly established Romania-Israel Economic Working Group, under the coordination of our Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

The Economic Working Group is focusing its activity on three main pillars: agriculture and water management, health and cutting-edge technology and artificial intelligence. The Ministries and Agencies involved in this Group are channelling their efforts to introduce and update policies that promote better bilateral economic cooperation.

Israel’s constant investment in technology, with a surge in successful start-ups, has been proven as a recipe for economic resilience and success in the SME sector. 

I avail myself of this great opportunity, Mr President and distinguished members of the business delegation, to launch an open invitation to the Israeli business community and trade promotion entities to initiate closer cooperation with their Romanian counterparts to look for synergies with Romania’s innovation know-how of start-ups, business hubs and accelerators.

I wish to thank the organizers, the Embassy of Israel and the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for having spared no effort to ensure the success of this Business Forum.

I wish you fruitful discussions and debates within the framework of this established dialogue between the companies from Romania and Israel! I assure you of my support in pursuing good business ideas emerging from this Business Forum! Finally, I usually like these debates, and I want to be here for the entire debate, but I am sure that you‘ll have a great debate later on today. Thank you

 



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