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July 7, 2022
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Romania Chamber of Commerce’s President: We Are a Black Friday Country

Romania has become a Black Friday country, and the country’s brand seems to be on the verge of extinction. In Mihai Daraban‘s opinion, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania (CCIR), who spoke at Forum Romania on June 9, is the current situation.

A common characteristic of the former communist countries is that they have become subcontracting economies of the Western economy because this is what it is: there is nothing left in our basket. Basically, the Romanian brand with high added value does not exist. I was also telling my friends before starting the work that I have all the respect for the Topoloveni jam (Romanian famous registered trademark), but it’s a jam, it’s neither gearbox, nor turbine, nor compressor. So, small added value. I come back to that figure from import, and here I think it’s the best poll among the consumer. Theoretically, we have 25,000 exporters in Romania, officially registered. The first one hundred of them make 51% of the entire export, and in the first 100 there are two Romanian companies (…) That is why the analysis on the import of Romania is an analysis of consumers until the end and those investments must be focused on satisfying its Black Friday appetite. That we are a Black Friday country. It’s a truth, it’s a reality, but that’s what it is and the state enjoys the VAT that the individual donates at the counter, year after year.

Mihai Daraban, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania
Mihai Daraban, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania. Photo Source: CCIR

Mr Daraban also thinks that Romania lacks economic diplomacy, and the business environment is “extremely politicized.”

There are some traditions that we could change at the level of the Foreign Ministry with the famous phrase ‘Career Diplomats’. I believe that the Romanian civil society can produce diplomats, especially at the level of ambassadors, people who have gone through life, with experience in the field of business. The deficit of Romania’s trade balance has reached unimaginable levels and I see that there is no discussion in the public space at all. Last year we reached 23.8 billion (euros), starting from 18.3 billion (euros), in 2020. At the end of 2015 it was 8.7 billion (euros), today it’s 10 (billion euros), so it’s clear that we’re closing this year with about 28 billion (euros). No one is concerned about last year’s import figure of EUR 98.4 billion. We have a very polarized, highly polarized business environment.

Mihai Daraban, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania

As we reported, Romania’s trade deficit exceeds EUR 10 billion, a record sum, despite the efforts of the Romanian companies to market and sell their goods abroad. The imports are overwhelming, and the main engine of the country’s economy remains the domestic consumption, even though the IT sector has a solid contribution to the GDP growth.

The main goal of the Romania Forum‘s discussions is to develop and adopt draft development and sectoral reform plans for the most critical areas of interest to Romanian society, which include strategies, solutions, measures, and responsibilities, as well as drafts for amending or supplementing some pieces of legislation.

In conclusion, who’s to blame? Mihai Daraban highlights a significant problem in Romania, as the country is more of a market to the Western countries than a producer. He also emphasizes that Romania’s exports can not compete in volumes with the imports, which are also much more expensive.

Will Romanians learn to consume more from their goods and ask for their services? Hard to believe that domestic brands are very hard to find on the shelves in a country where the most prominent retailers are all from the West. Apart from that, the big corporations have already taken the highly qualified white-collar workers, from consultants to accountants and from IT engineers to creative marketers. What else has Romania to export?

There could be two things: agricultural products and tourism. Both have tremendous potential but have not yet reached it. Agriculture produces vast grains, but Romania exports them as they are, without adding any value to them. Most of the time, the same grains are imported as bakery products, and agriculture makes it even more unbalanced instead of levelling the trade deficit. Tourism has even more potential than agriculture, but Romania does little to promote it abroad.

Recently there was an exhibition in New York where the Romanian officials stapled some printed pictures on a black curtain, which was Romania’s stand at the event.

Romania participation in NY fair

After that event, Romania suspended its participation in the international tourism fairs. Too little and too pathetic to be able to promote Romania abroad.

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