The Bucharest Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIB), founded 150 years ago, is the oldest business chamber in Romania. The CCIB provides a range of essential services to the business sector and serves as an ideal first point of contact for foreign investors exploring opportunities in Romania. Sorin Dimitriu, President, has played an important role in Romania’s modern economic development. He served as an economic advisor to Romania’s President Emil Constantinescu and as Vice President of the Economic Commission of the Chamber of Deputies. He was also instrumental in helping to privatize over one third of Romania’s state-owned enterprises and headed Romania’s industrial-restructuring process. He is currently a professor at Polytechnic University, Vice-President of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli “, as well as President of the CCIB. He discusses the Chamber’s goals and current activities.
European Times: The Bucharest Chamber of Commerce and Industry is well known for supporting research. Why does the Chamber emphasize R&D?
Sorin Dimitriu: The Bucharest Chamber of Commerce and Industry is indeed very focused on research and development, and it’s the only business chamber with a special section on R&D and innovation. Several of our honorary members are members of the Romanian Academy and I am one of only eight people to have been awarded the Pierre Werner Medal by the Academy. This recognition by the Academy reflects our chamber’s excellent reputation in the research field. In addition, the Chamber has organized the first official visit of a Romanian economic business mission to CERN, in May 2015, the year when our country became the full member of this international research organization.
The CCIB regularly organizes debates and other meetings concerning research issues, for example in the fields of aviation, nanotechnologies, nanomaterials and others, and both research institutes and private enterprises participate in these events. Our goal is to bring together researchers and research institutions and the companies which might want to partner with them.
I believe very strongly that now is the time for Romania to focus on research with real applications for industry. The CCIB is currently planning to establish a Centre for Strategies and Industrial Policy in partnership with the Academy of the Romanian Scientists and the Romanian Academy. This centre will focus on determining research fields with industrial applications in which Romania can develop a competitive advantage. For example, we should not concentrate research on industries based on natural resources which will eventually run out, such as certain activities in the chemicals sector.
European Times: Throughout your career you have been deeply involved in modernizing Romania’s economy. What are some of the economic principles which are particularly important to you and which you are promoting in your role as President of the Chamber of Commerce?
Sorin Dimitriu: It is very important to maintain an international perspective as we plan Romania’s future. Romania must take global factors into account when developing its economic strategies, for example concerning our planet’s limited resources. Romania must also forge productive international partnerships. For this reason, the Chamber of Commerce of Bucharest is very actively involved in representing Romania at international meetings and events. Our first office abroad was opened in Sharjah, UAE. Our goal was to identify market niches for Romanian products in the Middle East, and we were able to identify around five types of products which have proven to be very successful there. We were also able to establish partnerships with local enterprises through this initiative.
Later, the CCIB has opened representative offices in Beijing and Tangiers. We hope to open a permanent exhibition in Beijing later this year as well as offices in Iran, Central Asia (probably Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan) and India. We are currently in negotiations to establish a partnership in the Balkans, and we have already set up partnerships with around 100 Chambers of Commerce all over the globe.
European Times: What events does the CCIB organize in Romania?
Sorin Dimitriu: We host Business Opportunities Day every month or two months. At each of these meetings, we invite the ambassador of a particular country as well as other representatives from that country to meet with Romanian business and government leaders. EximBank and Romania’s Ministry of the Economy always participate in these meetings. We have hosted around ten of these events so far. Another event we organize is the Business Breakfast. We invite government leaders to come here and discuss business issues, such as Romania’s regulatory environment, with our members. These events are great opportunities for networking.
European Times: Why should international investors choose Romania?
Sorin Dimitriu: Romania offers a very stable, predictable investment climate; a highly qualified workforce; a strategic geographical position with access to growing markets in Russia and Central Asia; and many high-potential sectors, from health tourism to aviation. Romania also has diverse natural resources, many of which are just beginning to be exploited, such as magnesium. I believe that Romania will become one of the world’s top producers of magnesium in the next two decades.
European Times: How can the Chamber of Commerce of Bucharest assist foreign investors?
Sorin Dimitriu: Our Chamber can give investors accurate, up-to-date information about the Romanian economy and business opportunities. We can also help investors set up partnerships with Romanian SMEs. The Chamber of Commerce of Bucharest is committed to representing the Romanian business sector, both local and foreign, and to providing essential support for investors. We welcome foreign companies and investors to contact us and see how we can work together.