Hampshire firms offered bridge to Romania’s ‘wealth of opportunities’

Exporters and investors in Hampshire are being helped to pitch for potentially lucrative contracts in Romania thanks to a new initiative championed by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

An online trading platform will point Hampshire companies to details of procurement projects and other business and partnership prospects throughout the emerging Balkan economy.

Among those due to attend the launch of the new portal at Winchester Guildhall are Martin Harris, the British Ambassador to Romania, and his opposite number, the Romanian Ambassador to the UK, Ion Jinga.

The launch comes as the European Commission predicts economic growth in Romania of up to 2¼ per cent in 2013-14 while the European Union has recently confirmed a €40 billion, seven-year framework budget for the country.

Close ties between business and political leaders in Hampshire and the Romanian regions of Dolj and Vâlcea are behind the launch of the new service.

Hampshire Chamber’s Executive Director Maureen Frost, who recently signed a bilateral accord with the Dolj chamber designed to foster business partnerships, said: “I have seen for myself the wealth of opportunities that exist for Hampshire companies to find buyers, suppliers and project partners in his fast growing economy which also has access to significant amounts of EU funding. Cost-effective manufacturing and office space for those looking to expand is also plentiful. The new trading platform will bring sales, joint venture and investment opportunities from Romania straight to the desks of Hampshire companies, both SMEs and larger businesses.”

Hampshire Chamber already has an authorised Romanian representative based at its Southampton office who will give a live demonstration of the new portal at the launch. As well as developing the online resource, Calin Huma helps arrange exploratory trade visits and market intelligence reports for Hampshire companies through his organisation BRIDGE, the British Romanian International Gateway Exchange.

Also speaking at the launch will be Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, David Riches, Commercial Director of British Chambers of Commerce, Simon Escott, Chief Executive of design and manufacturing firm Portsmouth Aviation, and Olguta Vasilescu, the Mayor of Dolj’s regional capital and main industrial centre, Craiova.

With a population of 660,000, Dolj is active in market sectors including automotive manufacture, aeronautics, chemicals processing, heavy electrical and transport equipment, wine distribution, hydro energy and telecommunications.

Representatives from Hampshire Chamber and BRIDGE have also visited Vâlcea, the neighbouring county to Dolj, to meet with politicians and business leaders to involve them in the portal project.

An economic programme for Romania agreed in July 2013 by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank saw €4 billion earmarked to support a range of economic measures. They include reforms to state-owned enterprises and greater investment in the energy and transportation sectors, seen by European leaders as key to enhancing Romania’s competitiveness and long-term growth prospects.

At the same time, Romania’s top oil and gas company Petron, often cited as a barometer of the country’s financial health, announced plans to invest €1 billion next year in its production activities as the national economy and energy demand pick up.

Romania is the eighth biggest country in the EU by area and with more than 20 million people the seventh largest by population. Its national capital, Bucharest, is the sixth largest city in the EU.

The launch event will take place on Friday, 25 October 2013, at Winchester Guildhall, from 12 noon until 2.30pm.