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    Romania Focuses on Exports as EU Accession Nears


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2006

    Romanians are taking major steps to upgrade exports, with help from ITC.

    Faced with the challenges of its entry into the European Union (EU), Romania is keen to improve its export competitiveness in four sectors of strategic importance for the country's economy: textiles and garments; wooden furniture; information and communications technology (ICT); and organic agriculture.

    In July 2006, Romania, Switzerland and ITC launched a million-dollar project, Sustainable Export Development in Romania. The project, sponsored by SECO (the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), has the backing of the Romanian Government and strong commitment from local partners such as chambers of commerce and industry, the Romanian Trade Promotion Center and various sectoral organizations. ITC is providing technical support and guidance.

    The three-year project (2006-2008) is designed to contribute to Romania's overall economic and human development through improving the competitiveness of Romanian exporters. This takes on special significance in view of the country's entry into the EU on 1 January 2007, when competition is certain to become keener for Romanian exporting firms.

    Improving competitiveness

    In this context, the Romanian business community and the trade promotion authorities have developed a National Export Strategy, which the Swiss-financed ITC project will support with methodological approaches and technical advice. The project will improve the capacities of Romanian providers of export development services in areas such as strategy design and planning, international contracts, market analysis, packaging, quality and supply chain management and the use of ICTs.

    The project focuses on the four priority sectors, due to their growth potential and acknowledged importance to Romania's economy.

    The textiles and garments sector counts some 5,000 companies spread throughout the country. It employs a third of the country's labour force, in majority women. A skilled workforce, locally produced materials, experienced firms and geographic proximity to European markets make Romania the largest Eastern European clothing supplier to the EU.

    With a third of the country covered with forests, the wooden furniture industry also has a strong tradition in Romania. Close to 3,000 firms make all kinds of fine furniture, mostly destined to Western consumers.

    In the field of information technology, Romania is a high value-added outsourcing destination, illustrated by growing foreign investment and justified by Romanians' good language abilities and advanced technical skills. The industry provides vital products and services to other sectors and is a catalyst of e-commerce and e-business development in Romania.

    The organic agriculture sector, although less developed, has witnessed an expansion in recent years. Fertile soils, unpolluted areas and traditional farming approaches are assets. Since about 30% of the population is involved in agriculture, the development potential from higher prices for organic crops is important.

    As in many other countries, firms in all sectors too often lack knowledge of modern design and production, information on buyers' needs and client-country regulations and are weak in managerial and marketing skills. That is where ITC comes in. It gives advice and training to Romanian service providers, trade and sector associations and chambers of commerce in these areas, in order to help firms export successfully. In 2006, the project starts with training seminars for developing services on strategic competence, improving trade rules and advanced market analysis.

    For more information, contact Elena Boutrimova, ITC Trade Promotion Officer, at boutrimova@intracen.org

    Contributors: Elena Boutrimova, Paul Ress, Natalie Domeisen.