HE, Mr. Paul McGarry, Ambassador of Ireland in Romania said: “Ireland is particularly interested in diversifying our markets after the exit of the UK from the European Union”
HE, Mr. Paul McGarry, Ambassador of Ireland in Romania – Romanian Investment Zoom Project Interview
What is your vision and possibilities about the future of economic relations between our Countries?
Since 2007, bilateral trade between Ireland and Romania has increased year on year and overall has more than doubled. According to the Romanian Trade Registry official data there are around 850 companies registered with Irish capital. The fact that 6 of the top 10 large Irish multinationals – CRH, Ryanair, Betfair, Agrii (formerly Origin Enterprise), Kerry Group and Kingspan – are present here, indicate the strong and increasing interest in the Romanian economy.
The latest figures for trade in goods for 2020 between Romania and Ireland show a year on year increase again – even in these difficult times – and this trade in now valued at over half a billion Euros. I don’t have a figure yet for trade in services in 2020 but in 2019 the balance of trade in services was slightly in Romania’s favour – 253m euros Romania and 239 Ireland. This had grown from 165 Romania and 149 Ireland in 2018, so would suspect that this was even higher in 2020.
We always had the ambition to see trade between our two countries go above the €1bn mark and between goods and services, we may have reached that figure. In addition to continued growth in the areas that are already strong, my ambition now would be grow trade in areas that are important particularly to the rural economies of both our countries in the areas of food, drink and tourism.
What kind of activities or projects from your Country can be interest for investments in Romania?
There is still significant potential for increasing two-way trade with opportunities right across the business spectrum and particularly in sectors where Irish companies are already active. These sectors include agribusiness – Ireland is strongly represented by companies such as Agrii and other Irish firms here are Alltech Keenan, Power farm, MooCall, Wakely Engineering, Avalon Consulting etc. – and in ICT, financial services, construction, environmental technologies and related services.
Ireland is particularly interested in diversifying our markets after the exit of the UK from the European Union and, as a result of the lessons that EU Member States are learning from the Covid 19 crisis, the importance of the proximity of supply chains.
What are the Romanian products of interest for your market today and what may be for the future?
Romanian exports to Ireland in value terms are dominated by the motor vehicle sector. Aside from this, I believe there is significant potential for growth in textiles, food and drink, medical supplies and timber products. On the services side, I think our collaboration on ICT will grow significantly including fintech and cybersecurity. Of course, the tourism market is very underdeveloped.
What kind of productions from your Country do you consider to suitable for the Romanian market for today and tomorrow?
Irish exports to Romania are mainly in the pharma/medical sectors and engineering/electronics. We all have to learn lessons from the past year and from changes that have taken place and are taking place in Europe and the world economy.
There is potential for EU Member States to work more closely together. Our markets will change and develop. The strength of the Irish economy in Pharma, Medical devices/supplies, ICT, food and drink are all areas where we can do more business in Romania.
Can you provide names of companies from your country and their contact details interested in the Romanian market?
There are a number of Irish companies with differing needs who are already involved in the Romanian market. A number are outsourcing direct business with Romanian producers. In Textiles – Bacau & Bucharest we have Kocoono – Weighted blankets; Diamond Designs produce nurses’ uniforms and O’Neils produce GAA sports jerseys (these are for our national games of hurling and gaelic football).
In Ploiesti, Castlebrook is producing furniture for the interior fit out for hotels and in Galati, Rota Industries is involved in the production of Metal sheets. We have examples of market collaboration in COVID related pharma with Novaerus Air purifiers and DR. Victor Babes, Hospital of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.
In the Recycling / Environmental area, we have LSM Engineering (compactors / balers for supermarkets) in Bucharest and Moovmor (compactors / balers for factories / retail) in Timisoara. In Agriculture BioAtlantis (seaweed fertilizers) are nationwide. We also have many companies with an office presence in the market Smarttech (cybersecurity), 8West, TaxBack, Iquate, Realtime Technologies, Extreme Push, Portwest and Ammeon.
As an Ambassador you have visited places in Romania, can you give us some examples of support from companies of your Country, but also for City Halls?
Unfortunately, since my arrival in September 2019 my travel has been somewhat limited by the Covid situation, so I haven’t been able to travel around the country as much as I would have liked. I had the opportunity to visit Cluj-Napoca and meet with Irish business leaders and civic leaders there. I was very impressed by the number of leaders of Irish businesses there who are Romanian and had linked up with the Irish company while they were working in Ireland and had come back to Cluj-Napoca to set up a Romanian branch of the business.
I was also delighted that at that time Mayor Boc took the opportunity to attend a Smart Cities Conference in Dublin. I think that our towns and cities, in Ireland and Romania, are working to find solutions to common problems to make our cities more livable for our citizens. We all face common environmental, energy, transport and ICT issues and it is important that we find solutions and learn from each other.
What is your advice for Romanian producers and what kind of activities can be developed in Romania in the future, interesting for bilateral cooperation?”
In relation to new opportunities, I would say that companies everywhere are looking at their supply chains and many are looking for solutions closer to home – including Romania – particularly in areas like textiles, ICT and in the Agri sector.
Last year Romania secured the location of the European Agency for Cybersecurity in Bucharest. I think you will see more and more companies in the cybersecurity field looking to Romania as a possible location and I know that some Irish companies already are.
In my time here, as well as the cities I mentioned earlier, I have also visited Bacau where more Irish businesses are finding partners with whom they can collaborate. A vital part of the Ireland Romania relationship is the great air connectivity we have and regular flights to regional level as well as national really bring our people closer together. Romanian people make a great contribution to life in Ireland and I am glad that they can remain well connected to Romania. I think they can be a wonderful resource for building business connections and I think this will be an important part of our future bilateral relationship. I think we get on very well together as people and we work well together.
Of course there are many other really beautiful cities in Romania and I have had the pleasure of visiting Sibiu, Brasov, Sighisoara and more and it is very obvious to me that Romania has a fantastic tourist offering including rural tourism and more Irish tourists should find their way here when people can travel more freely again.
I should also mention that we have a great Business Association the Romania Ireland Business Association, which acts as a representative business association for the Romania-Ireland connection and acts as central nexus for the Irish and Romanian business communities. RIBA works closely with the Embassy and Irish government agencies and can be considered a Service Hub for larger Companies, SMEs or Start-ups – either Irish businesses that are opening offices in Romania as well as Romanian businesses that want to do business in Ireland.
Even at a time when it has been impossible to meet in person, RIBA is taking a digital approach to offering opportunities for interaction between members. For example, hosting a number of Business Shapers events this year, enabling companies to talk about the evolution of their companies in times of this pandemic and the creative solutions they have introduced in their companies.