Business in Romania blog
The business in Romania blog writes about the Romanian business landscape, doing business in Romania, investing in Romania business and debating on business issues in Romania. Check this Blog's Policy here.



Thursday, September 30, 2004
Business in Romania blog
For the past 2-3 weeks I've been wondering if Google is sick or something. This is because it started to act very strange.

First of all, I began finding things harder over the web....it just seemed that the info I was looking for just wasn't available over the web...and this is hard to believe.

After this, I found out that some websites have gone off-Google for almost no reason at all. When asked about this, Google just sends you an e-mail where it says they can't tell you the reasons why YOUR site has dissapeared from Google, but that usually the reasons are: bla-bla-bla....

Today, I found that this blog has gone off Google. You can search for "business romania blog" on Google, but it won't appear. While on Yahoo appears on 2nd place and on MSN on 3rd place.

It seams to me that strange things are happening and even though I tried to find out what was going on, I couldn't find any explanation, exept for Google's new bots and for Yahoo's facelift. Even more, I only found more people that couldn't explain what happened....

If any of you has any explanation....I would love to hear it.




Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/30/2004 04:20:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
FAST COMPANY is one of the most reputated business magazines in the world....and is a great site, with a lot of available resources.

Also, they have a lot of innovative and interesting ideas, such as the one I am writing about right now. They wanted to make a compilation of the best songs that drive their readers towards success. Like the kind of songs you listen before meeting a prospect customer, or the songs you listen before a very important deadline.

The results are available HERE.

My personal list of success songs (no particular order):

- Eminem - Till I Collapse
- Usher - Yeah
- Scooter - We Are The Greatest
- Pink Floyd - Money
- Nelly - Number One
- Machine Head - lot of songs
- U2 - Beautiful Day





Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/30/2004 12:19:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

I am not very sure if they are better than the old ones or not, but we'll live and see. All I can tell you is that I saw them work on a couple of weblogs and I liked them.


Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/29/2004 02:22:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Financial Times writes about ongoing conflicts between Romanian journalists and the media corporations controlling them:

Fears for press freedom on the rise in Romania
By Christopher Condon, Published: September 28 2004

Fifteen years after the fall of the repressive Ceausçescu regime, press freedom is again a concern for some journalists in Romania.

In recent weeks journalists at two of the country's biggest daily newspapers have accused their foreign owners of trying to suppress negative coverage of the Romanian government.

The accusations come at a sensitive time, before parliamentary and presidential elections in November and while the European Union is monitoring press freedom ahead of a decision on Romania's entry into the bloc.

Employees at Evenimentul Zilei and Romania Libera claim their owners, Switzerland's Ringier and Germany's Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) respectively, have buckled under government pressure to smother criticism before the elections.

Adrian Nastase, Romania's prime minister, is running for president against Theodor Stolojan, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance.
Both groups of journalists have said their owners have told them to lessen political coverage and tone down their negative reporting of the government.

Journalists at Romania Libera said in a statement that their owners "began in an insistent way to tell us what to write in the newspaper, how to write and who not to criticise".
Romania Libera dedicated its entire front page on September 13 to a statement accusing WAZ of pressing staff to write less about the ruling Social Democrat party and refrain from investigative reporting.
WAZ executives denied the allegations, saying they had never interfered with Libera's editorial content since acquiring the paper in 2001.

A week earlier the editorial staff at Evenimentul made similar accusations against Ringier.
More than half of Evenimentul's 70-member editorial staff signed a public letter saying Ringier executives had pressed the paper to "sweeten" its coverage of the government.

Thomas Landoldt, general manager of Ringier Romania, rejects the charge, insisting: "We have always guaranteed the staff's editorial independence. "The government has denied allegations of manipulation. The idea that foreign media owners have given in to government pressure is "a demagogic development without any common sense", a statement said.

Evenimentul Zilei and Romania Libera have a combined daily circulation of about 150,000.

They are among a small number of national media outlets that regularly investigate accusations of government corruption.

This episode is only the most recent sign of the long-standing tension between government and parts of the media, according to Cristina Guseth, director of the Bucharest office of Freedom House, a rights monitoring group.
Freedom House and other monitoring groups say national state-owned broadcasters are biased towards the government and give little access to opposition politicians.

Journalists at Evenimentul and Libera accuse the government of using state-controlled advertising budgets and selective enforcement of tax laws to influence the media.

The government controls a significant minority of advertising spending in Romania, particularly in the print sector, according to Mircea Toma, director of Bucharest's Media Monitoring Agency.

In July Evenimentul published a story claiming that Mr Nastase's government had ordered state institutions to approve all advertising spending with the prime minister's office.
According to Dan Turturica, Evenimentul's editor, advertising revenue from state-controlled sources has fallen from €500,000 ($615,200, £340,280) in 2003, 20 per cent of the paper's total advertising take, to almost nothing this year.

In its most recent annual report on Romania last October, the European Commission drew attention to the government's selective enforcement of tax laws.

By letting media companies run up big tax debts, the Commission said the government had made them "dependent on the good will of the Romanian authorities".

The government has also been criticised by a number of human rights groups for not pushing prosecutors to file charges in cases that involve the harassment and beating of journalists.

Mr Landoldt said he believed discontent at Evenimentul stemmed more from Ringier's attempts to make organisational and operational changes since it bought the paper from German media giant Bertelsmann last year."

In the same time, Reuters wrote about the conflict between Evenimentul Zilei journalists and the Swiss-based Ringier owner. “"Romania's most outspoken newspaper editor resigned on Tuesday in what media watchdogs said was a result of government pressure to muzzle the press ahead of elections."



Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 9/29/2004 01:35:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Hello there,

We would like to welcome one new member of this special blog:

IULIA STOICESCU

She is a Legal Researcher at CHF Romania. She graduated the “Faculty of Law” - Bucharest in 1998 and she is very interested in the Romanian business and economic environment. She was a 'freelancer' legal consultant and she writes some legal consulting articles in a couple of Romanian magazines.

We are sure that her comments and ideas will add value to our developing ‘business-Romania’ blog.

Our team is getting stronger and our readers are getting more and better informed ;)



Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 9/29/2004 11:57:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Right now Romania's economy is doing OK. Yes, there are lots of problems, some of them very serious, but the macroeconomic fundamentals look pretty good.

In the first quarter of 2004, Romania's economy grew at an annualized rate of -- wait for it -- 6.1%, and according to the PM Adrian Nastase, Romania will achieve an economic growth of 7.5% this year – the highest in Europe and the country’s 15 year-high. The original target set for this year was 5.5%.

However, the majority of economic analysts believe this growth will not bear any significant effects on individuals and some even believe that for real effects, the growth must be more than 10%. One example backing their belief is that, despite an outstanding wheat crop this year, the price of bread has not decreased at all.

The economic growth was led by the industrial sector (which grew at 6.6%) and construction (7.2%). The service sector grew by 5.7% and agriculture by 5.4%... slow compared to the rest of the economy, but still not bad.

Also the foreign direct investment (FDI) -- both greenfields and equity purchases -- is up, with some 1.8 billion USD in FDI attracted last year; Romania ranks fourth among Central and Eastern European countries and first among South-Eastern European countries.

So, the foreign investment is growing quickly, although from a very small base, but it's expected to double in the next two to three years. In the same time lending is growing like mad, around 50% per year.

According to the National Bank of Romania in the first seven months of this year, the current account deficit reached 1.75 billion euros, 3.2% of the GDP expected for this year
The Government and the National Bank of Romania pledged in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to contain the current account deficit at 5.5% of GDP for this year, 0.4% lower than in 2003.
From January to July 2003, the current account deficit reached 2.8% of GDP.

The biggest problem is the foreign trade deficit, which is just getting bigger and bigger. Romanian exports are up, but imports are up even more. Unemployment has been falling for the last couple of years. Today it is around 7.5%, which seems high to Americans but is pretty good for Europe.
Still, overall it's good news for Romania.
Which is also good news for the ruling Social Democratic Party, the PSD. PSD faces national elections in November. At this point they're expected to win...

So, good news, right? Well, maybe. Is this for real? And, if it is, how long can it go on? Am I missing something?

One oddity: after three, now going on four years of good economic news, Romanians seem as pessimistic as ever or even more.

Why?


Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 9/29/2004 11:39:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Bucharest, Romania, Sep. 24 (UPI) -- Romania expects foreign direct investment to reach $2.5 billion in 2004, the Rompres news agency reported Friday.

Alexandru Popa, head of the Romanian Agency for Foreign Investments, was reported as saying foreign direct investment would improve on last year's $1.8 billion because of reforms to the customs code, the taxation system and business registration procedures.

In August the central bank said increased foreign direct investment would inevitably lead to a gradual appreciation of the Romanian currency, the leu. In the January to May period, foreign direct investment inflows were up 38 percent compared to the same period last year.

The Romanian economy grew 6.6 percent in the first half of 2004 over the same period last year and is forecast by the government to grow by 5 percent or more in each of the next four years.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/28/2004 04:52:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Ion Iliescu (currently, president of Romania) has been granted the right to participate in the elections law for the 2004-2008 period. Even if he won't be eligible for Presidency, he will be able to run for parliament on the list of the ruling PSD (Social democratic Party).

This is expected to boost the PSD in their election race in 2004.

This is even more outrageous as the president signed this law on friday himself. So ... its like he voted himself.

Even more, the current constitution clearly says that "the president must be non-partisan, cannot be a party member or hold any other post until he ends his term". But with this move (and with a lot of other recent press-releases he made lately) he is clearly a PSD partisan.

I believe this is meant to create a huge rift in the race for elections and I am amazed of how easily this kind of actions can take place in Romania. One year ago, when the new constitution was proposed, several other moves like this were registered.

As you can remember, thounsands of people were almost obliged to vote for the constitution, even though it was clear that they didn't wanted to. They were stopped on the streets and asked to vote or to sign for the constitution, a lot of votes were falsified, and so on.

Again, I was amazed then by how easily these kind of actions can take place (in a coutry that calls itself democratic) and by how indifferent the international organizations can be when faced with this kind of situations.

While a clear manipulation takes place and while everybody can see that democracy is just a concept in Romania, the IMF, the World Bank and the EU officials talk only about the great progress Romania makes, about our chances to join in 2007 and so on.

I believe joining the EU should be done only when we can compare ourselves to the other members. I don't believe a country where the people can be fooled day-by-day by the politicians, where the civil society is ignored and where the economy is said to be "market economy" while everybody can see it is merely an "10-years-distance-from-a-market-economy" should join the EU. It will just make all the differences act against us.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/28/2004 04:09:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Monday, September 27, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Bogdan Baltazar, one of the greatest personalities of the Romanian business, announced Friday that he will retire from the position he has in the Board of the BRD SG Bank, in October. He said that on October 12, at 10:00 hours he will present the Board his retirement letter.

Chairman of the BRD SG since 1998 Mr. Bogdan Baltazar announced his intention of retirement several times in the last year.

The BRD SG General Manager, Mr. Patrik Gelin is supposed to ‘fill’ the Chairman of the Board position also.

The BRD SG stocks are sold on BVB with around 27.200 ROL and that makes the market value of the BRD SG around 1 billion euros.

Mr. Bogdan Baltazar is a Romanian ‘business lord’, a role model for many of us, a great professional and a great Man!

We wish him all the best and we want to bring into the open with this ocasion, our great admiration and respect for Mr. B. Baltazar!

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 9/27/2004 02:05:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, September 24, 2004
Business in Romania blog

It seems that Google is spending some of the cash it raised from its IPO on headhunting staff to build a web browser. Staff have already been poached from Microsoft and Sun.
Joshua Bloch, a senior Java developer at Sun, and four people from Microsoft's IE team have all joined the firm in the last few weeks, according to the New York Post. One of the four, Adam Bosworth, was also a lead developer in the development of Access.

Joe Beda, a developer working on the user interface for Microsoft's Longhorn, has also joined Google. His blog refers to the NY Post story, but does not give too many clues to his work at Google: "My only job now is to write code and ship product. That is about all I can say too :) "
Analysts also point to Google's hosting of Mozilla Developer Day for programmers working on the open source browser.

Other observers believe the firm is likely to be working on a specialised music search - which could work like Google's image search.
Longer term, the firm could be looking at building a stack of applications that would mirror Larry Ellison's network computer model - an online resource accessed by a browser and a very simple PC.

Google rulz! ;-)

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 9/24/2004 02:11:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
(source: BBC)

Romania has held its first official wine-tasting event, laid on for a party of Japanese wine buyers.

In communist times, Romania was the sixth largest wine-producer in Europe, but buyers were lured by the cheap price, not the high quality.

Now Romania is pulling out all the stops to put itself back on the international wine map, hoping that within five years the country's Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon will be internationally recognised.

"This is to promote our producers and to make contracts for them," Lucica Sticlaru from the Romanian Foreign Trade Centre said of the country's wine tasting event.

Alice Gregorescu, director of Dutch-backed Vinterra, is honest about the country's image.

"Romania was selling wines due to the fact that they were rather cheap. This was the main reason. Quality was not so important but price was very important and we were in the very low category of prices for many many years," she said.

The good news is that European business people are queuing up to take advantage of Romania's wine-making potential.

Nicolae David, Vinterra's manager, said foreign investors like the excellent soil and the climate.

Cheap land

They are also attracted by the price of land.

"To expand in France is tremendously difficult because the cost of one hectare of vineyard is tremendous - it reaches $100,000 per hectare.

The younger generation in Germany or Holland can also find it difficult to acquire land.

However, newcomers will not only face stiff competition from other Eastern European wines, but also have to battle Romanian bureaucracy.

Philip Cox from Vintners Transylvanian says the government should sort out Romania's bureaucracy.

"We have up to 1,000 people working for us when we pick the grapes and we have to take the paperwork to the tax authorities in a truck.

"It means I have to have about two or three people who only deal with bureaucracy all the time," he said.

Western supermarket shelves already groan under the weight of wine from established countries.

"We need more consistent products - with a group of 10 or 15 producers, private producers with perfect quality price ratio on their products," said Mihaela Badea, director of Romania's first private winery, SERVE - set up with French money.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/24/2004 01:54:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The fact that Sibiu was chosen, along with Luxembourg, as the European Capital of Culture 2007 is, at least in my opinion one of the the city's mayor, Klaus Johannis, glory.

The city’s officials initially wanted Sibiu to run for this title for 2008. But at the beginning of this year, in February, they received the invitation from Luxembourg to run together with them in 2007.

Sibiu's application had the considerable advantage of being supported by the Luxembourg Duchy, which had already taken all the necessary steps for the candidacy and was interested in sharing this title with Sibiu. It was an occasion Sibiu could not afford to miss, because this type of support was very important.

Why did Luxembourg want to support Sibiu, and how did the nomination procedure go?
Klaus Johannis explains it: "The explanation is to be found in the common history of Hermannstadt and Luxembourg: the first settlers who founded the city on the banks of Cibin, Villa Hermanni (later called Hermannsdorf, and then Hermannstadt) in the 12th century originated from the area where nowadays lays the Great Duchy of Luxembourg. Luxembourg inhabitants and Sibiu Saxons have had the joy of discovering that they can even today talk and understand each other in a language, which, although it evolved over time, still keeps many common traits. On April 5 2004 Sibiu took the exam to become the European Capital of Culture 2007. The project was presented in Brussels in front of the European Commission and the jury. At the end of April, the jury of the European Commission recommended Sibiu for the title of the European Cultural Capital of 2007. The news came at the end of May: Sibiu was chosen, following the final vote from the Council of Ministers of Cultures of the European Union, as European Capital of Culture 2007. The 25 ministers of culture voted unanimously for Luxembourg and Sibiu to be selected for this title together. The vote of the council of ministers was the final point of the nomination procedure that had begun in February."

We, as Romanians, and especially the ones involved in the Tourism Business, are of course very happy and proud the Sibiu project was successful. It is a fantastic opportunity both for the Romanian business and culture. The timing is important both for Sibiu and Romania as 2007 is the date when we are supposed to enter the European Union. As much honor as this title gives us, it is also an obligation. A lot of hard work lies ahead of the Sibiu inhabitants. In two years they have to settle many things. They are not dealing with a complete and coherent cultural program but also with infrastructure problems. In 2007 Sibiu will be a passport for Romania, a passport to Europe.

As Klaus said:"The mission sure is pleasant but we know it won't be easy"

The Jury and the European Comission said that the Sibiu 2007 program's strong points are its multiculturalism, its European dimension, the organizational structure and its sustainability.

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 9/24/2004 01:42:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Bucharest, Sept 24 (InvestRomania) – The council of the city hall of Romania’s capital Bucharest has decide to launch a €500 million Eurobond issue in a move to raise money for ambitious plans to modernizing the city ahead the EU accession.

International rating agency Standard and Poor’s has rated Bucharest city hall “BB” with stable outlook. The business landscape in Bucharest is probably the most dynamic one in Romania.

Bucharest has an obsolete infrastructure, with many city districts badly needing heavy investments to offer decent living conditions. Investments are also requested in the historical center of the town.

(Bucharest Newsroom-Tel/fax: +40 21 210 2934; +40 21 210 2935)

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/24/2004 01:26:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
US Investments in the 8 central and eastern european countries
(millions USD)

1. Bulgaria 291 USD
2. Czech Republic 2,000 USD
3. Croatia 1,207 USD
4. Poland 8,736 USD
5. Romania 694 USD
6. Slovakia 323 USD
7. Slovenia 75 EUR
8. Hungary 2,240 USD


Source: CEEBIC, US Department of Commerce





Top American companies that have invested in Central and Eastern Europe
(millions USD)


Bulgaria
1. American Standard 110
2. Alico 56
3. Kraft Foods 40
4. McDonalds 23
5. Seaboard 15


Czech Republic
1. Conoco/Dupon 665
2. Philip Morris 420
3. Pepsi Cola International 291
4. Coca Cola 200
5. IFC Kaiser 196


Hungary
1. General Electric 1.100
2. Alcoa Inc 350
3. Imb Corp. 340


Poland
1. Citibank 1.300
2. UPC 1.200
3. General Motors 800
4. Enterprise Investors 23
5. Philip Morris 15


Croatia
1. Western Wireless -
2. Iskon Parsons -
3. Hilton International -
4. Coca Cola 12
5. Zetec 10


Romania
1. Colgate-Palmolive 132
2. Osman Trading Inc. 57
3. McDonald's 51
4. Citibank 42
5. Trinity Industries 38


Figures are US investments in millions USD. Source: CEEBIC, US Department of Commerce.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/24/2004 01:06:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Business in Romania blog
A Norfolk company which helped secure Heritage Lottery funding for Norwich's Dragon Hall and have been involved in a lottery bid for Norwich Cathedral is joining a high profile international delegation to Romania.

Specialist strategic management consultancy A Different View is to address about 50 Government officials and tourism chiefs at a top level seminar to be held in Bucharest next week.

The company will speak on the theme of "Culture and Heritage Attractions in the 21st Century" and share ideas and offer advice to the tourism directors. The trip will also involve a fact-finding mission of the country's attractions.The visit has been organised by the museums and heritage department of the British Chamber of Commerce and A Different View was chosen for its 20 years experience of attraction management.
Rosalind Johnson established A Different View three years ago with Sylvia Matiko, a former Vice President of US amusement chain Ripley's Entertainment Inc.
Ms Johnson said: "It is a great honour for us to represent the attractions industry globally and share with the people of Romania why and how attractions are successful. We hope to be giving them some real tried and tested pointers that they can take action on."

A Different View works with the owners of new and existing attractions to research potential and existing customers and help build visitor numbers.

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 9/23/2004 01:28:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The chambers of Senate and Deputies will have a meeting on 28 september for naming the new Board of Directors of NBR.

Two days ago, the Budget and Finance commisions have agreed on the new Board for NBR, with Mugur Isarescu as governor and Florin Georgescu as prime-vice-governor.

Other vice-governors will include Eugen Dijmarescu and Cristian Popa. The Board will also include Silviu Cerna, Agnes Naghy, Napoleon Pop, Petre Popeanga and Virgiliu Stoenescu.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/23/2004 11:43:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
NEW DELHI, SEPT 22: Coinciding with Romania’s entry into the European Union (EU), its trade with India will be touching the $1 billion mark by the end of March 2007. This comes as good news especially for India since it has been trying to improve ties with countries which are becoming part of the expanded EU.

Indo-Romanian business trade rose 200% during the first seven months of the current calendar year. It was around $30.85 million last year and currently till July, the export figures indicate that it has touched almost $92.36 million. The imports from India rose from $44.33 million in the first seven months to $72.28 million.

“Romania is an attractive destination for Indian investments due to its sizable market (the second largest in central and eastern Europe). The Indian business community should make full use of the country as a bridgehead to central European countries, particularly in view of Bucharest joining the European Union in 2007,” Vasile Sofineti, Romanian ambassador to India told FE.

The most colourful aspect of this bilateral relation is that Hollywood production houses are choosing Romania for shooting films.

Romania represents an attractive destination for Indian film industry, ready to shoot in incredibly beautiful places that the country can offer. It is also an attractive destination for Indian businessmen starting with textiles going through pharmaceuticals, up to IT products, the Romanian ambassador said.

Adding that “with the new government in place now and the EU membership in 2007, the time is ripe to strengthen the Indo-Romanian trade relations.

India is passing through a defining moment. Romania business is enhancing its international status by concrete steps towards its integration with EU, and India being unmistakably perceived as a global emerging power. It opens new avenues for strengthening and deepening their bilateral trade and economic relations.”

The potential for India - Romania business trade and co-operation is far more than it was proved until now, especially in the fields of oil and gas, IT, power, engineering, pharmaceuticals and textiles, according to Marian Postelnicu, economic counsellor.

Currently there are about 180 companies in Romania business landscape which have Indian participation, Mr Postelnicu said, adding that there was enough scope for entrepreneurs from India to invest in the country, clocking 5% annual growth rate — higher than any other nation in the region.

Companies like Mahindra and Mahindra recently led a high-level delegation to explore investment sectors there, followed by a delegation of 22 textile companies.

“Today the Indian textile, gems, jewellery, music are all over Romania and big companies like Birla, Tata, Reliance have all been visiting to look for investment opportunities. Several Indian banks are planning to set up branches there ,” the ambassador noted.

He said Indian Pharma companies are also looking for JVs and so is ONGC talks with local companies there. Romanian is planning to have more trade fairs and exhibitions to promote its business here as well as exchange delegations to help understand each country better.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/23/2004 11:14:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Thousands of Romanian young people go in the US for work every summer. Only in 2003 more than 6.000 Romanian students went in USA within the “Summer Work&Travel” program. Many of them worked for around 4 months in hotels or restaurants.

We are not talking about the brain exodus phenomenon… because they are comeing back home… and they are contributing to the Romanian economy and business development. What am I talking about? ;-) It’s that simple: they are bringing in Romania somewhere around 18 millions USD.

Over 10.000 Romanians applied in 2003 for the “Summer Work&Travel” program and 6.000 of them received their Visas for work and travel in USA.

They earn there around 1400$/month - 15 times the minimum wage here in Romania. As an average, one student brings back in Romania around 3000 USD after 4 months of work and travel in the States – meaning a total of 18.000.000 USD for 6.000 students.

The best case scenario is that when the young Romanian starts up a new business in Romania, but unfortunately some of them are seriously thinking to return in the States and work there.

Why? 3.000 USD is more than enough to start your own small business in Romania while in the States 3000 USD is just a medium local monthly wage… but the first thing that amazes you when you arrive in the US is the way the employers treat their employees. Most of the Romanians students working there get promoted in a short time and enjoy the respect, responsibilities and money they gain in such a short time.

While in Romania they would gain around 2 – 300 USD and would get promoted depending on the ‘connections’ they have or only after some good years of experience.

Hopefully some of them and some of the many Romanians that now work abroad will return in Romania with experience, a new business attitude and approach and some entrepreneurial spirit.

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 9/22/2004 02:04:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
(Source: Jurnalul National)

Quality of the Romanian wines is a factor which has increased a lot this year, though there still are problems regarding the names of the products.

“Most of the wines are prepared correctly. Moreover, the wines in 750 milliliters bottles are extraordinary”, stated for the Mediafax agency the president of the Vineyards and Wines Employers in Romania, Valeriu Cotea.

SELF-CONSUMING. The small private producers own surfaces cultivated with vineyard, where significant wine quantities are produced, undelivered to the market, and mainly destined to self-consuming. One of the main problems the wine producers confront with is the low selling price, taking into account that the producing prices are very high. That is why there are situations in which the Romanian producers prefer delivering the wine to the external market, since they get higher selling prices for it.

DOMINATION. For export, the average price is 5 USD a bottle, since in the Romanian market this price is 1.3 USD. The most expensive Romanian wine costs in the internal market 500,000 lei. Cotea showed that, for now, the world market is dominated by four or five very well known assortments, followed by the local ones. “The world tendencies are going for the local wines. We’ll never be able to compete with Chardonnay from France or Australia”, said Cotea.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/22/2004 01:09:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST/BRUSSELS, Sept 20 (Reuters) - The European Union reassured Romania on Monday that it could still join the bloc in 2007 despite doubts over the pace of the Balkan country's reforms.

The EU's executive Commission said it could still bestow the status of "functioning market economy" on Romania in a key report on Oct. 6 even though the country did not yet have the capacity to cope with market forces within the EU.

Romania needs the market economy tag to join the EU in 2007 along with neighbouring Bulgaria, which is more advanced in accession negotiations.

"It is still a possibility," Jean-Christophe Filori, the Commission spokesman for enlargement told reporters.

Doubts over Romania's status emerged earlier on Monday when a Romanian English-language paper quoted the head of the Commission's delegation in Romania, Jonathan Scheele, as saying that the ex-communist country would not get the title this year.

Scheele's office later said that his full statement distinguished between two economic criteria - a "functioning market economy" and "capacity to resist competitive pressures," which Romania might not possess in the mid-term.

"I distinguish here the sub-criterion 'functional market economy', which Romania nearly achieved in 2003, from the second sub-criterion - 'capacity to resist competitive pressures' - which will need to be reached by 2007," Scheele said.

Investors are keenly watching Romania's progress towards the EU, with any setbacks certain to hit the country's foreign denominated bonds.

NO DECOUPLING WITH BULGARIA

Filori said in Brussels that the EU would still like to sign the accession treaty next year jointly with Bulgaria and Romania despite the latter's slower progress in negotiations.

"It is still our preferred option, but there is no guarantee," he said.

Bulgaria and Romania missed the first wave of the EU's eastern enlargement in May, when 10 mostly east European countries joined.

Both countries are now eagerly awaiting next month's report by the Commission, which will say whether they have made enough economic and administrative reforms to be fit to enter the 25-member bloc.

The report is certain to criticise Romania for rampant corruption, the ailing judiciary system, often incompetent administration and state aid to inefficient industries, despite noting the country's progress in reforms.

Officials in Romania, which failed to get the "functioning market economy" tag last year, say they expect to earn it next month due to robust economic growth, falling inflation and progress in privatisations.

Romania still has to wrap up entry talks in 5 out of 30 policy areas of negotiations while Bulgaria has already been declared a "market economy" and has closed all negotiations.

Competition will be a difficult area as Romania will have to convince the EU it would end aid to firms that is incompatible with the bloc's strict rules.

State aid is a long-time practice in the coiuntry to keep inefficient state industries afloat.

By Antonia Oprita and Marcin Grajewski

Posted by Mihai : 9/21/2004 07:49:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
I first discovered Alice about 4 years ago...she was then very young, she was just beginning to start talking. Even then, she amazed me with her intelligence. It was almost like talking to a friend. Almost I say....

I saw Alice again today and I was impressed with the progress she made. In only 4 years, she now speaks fluently english and she has 2 little brothers.

She is now very smart and she has even been awarded the Loebner Prize for her abbilities. Alice is also quite popular among Internet surfers all across the world.

I could tell you lots of things about her, but I prefer to let you discover them for yourselves. You can reach Alice at www.alicebot.org and you can talk to her HERE.

TIP: Ask Alice "what is life" :)


Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/21/2004 07:45:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Yesterday, The Chigaco Times Newspaper published a letter from Ion Iliescu, president of Romania, in the Letters from the Editors section.

Personnaly, I have a strong doubt regarding the veridicity of the actual sender of this letter, but I will publish it anyways and I invite you to comment on it.

( source: http://www.suntimes.com/output/letters/cst-edt-vox20a.html )

More than a decade ago, our part of the world was called Eastern Europe not merely because of our geography but because Cold War divisions left us on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain. I have consistently been one of the strongest advocates of redefining our regional identity. Our cultural heritage -- derived from ancient Greece and Rome -- is European.

During the second half of the 20th century, the Soviet occupation cruelly diverted the Central European countries from their natural evolution. Thankfully, Central Europe has now returned to its original European destiny. Through two successive enlargement rounds, full NATO membership has resolved the security dilemma that plagued our region for generations. The path to a total integration into the European Union is set with 10 new members and two more scheduled to join in 2007.

Two years ago in Bucharest's Revolution Square, President George W. Bush noted Romanians and other Central Europeans value freedom because we lived without it. Our commitment to promoting democracy is borne of our gratitude for the chance of being able to practice it.

We have a special sympathy for Americans of Central European origin, especially in the Midwest. Chicago, Illinois and its neighboring states have become homes for many Romanians who help enhance the ties between our countries. On our side, we are taking responsibilities as strategic allies and growing business partners. Romania has committed 500 troops to Afghanistan and 800 military personnel in Iraq. As a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Romania co-sponsored Resolution 1546, which returned full sovereignty to an independent Iraq. Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana was the first foreign government official to visit Baghdad after the restoration of sovereignty to the new Iraqi government. Prime Minister Adrian Nastase presided over a U.N. special session on post-conflict reconstruction. In a few days, I will be addressing the U.N. General Assembly, stressing our support for the Iraqi interim authorities aimed at paving the way to democratic elections and ensuring security and stability of Iraq.

Economically, my country offers significant business opportunities, and Romanian-U.S. economic relations have steadily expanded. After years of recession, Romania's economy has grown since 2000 at 5 percent per year. Inflation has eased substantially and investments are expanding. Today, more than 70 percent of the gross domestic product is provided by the private sector, compared with only 1 percent in 1989. This success has resulted in renewed interest of U.S. companies in Romania's investment opportunities. I am honored to be able to address the World Trade Center Association of Chicago to reiterate our desire for a strong American economic presence in Romania as an essential component of our overall relationship.

The Midwest symbolizes American values, ethnic diversity and economic dynamism. Central Europe and Romania are springboards for promoting democracy, successful and robust free-market economies and full of promising business opportunities. We have a natural partnership with the heartland of America in expanding freedom, increasing prosperity and meeting the challenges of the 21st century together.

Ion Iliescu,
president of Romania

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/21/2004 04:25:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Romania's opposition parties on Monday slammed
a parliamentary decision to appoint a new central bank (BNR) board before
November elections, saying the governing Social Democrats were trying to put
their own people in key posts.

They will ask for the procedure to be postponed until after the polls.

Parliament last week launched procedures to appoint a new BNR board ahead of
Nov. 28 presidential and parliamentary polls -- about a month earlier than
expected -- sparking a row on whether the mandate of the current BNR board had
expired.

"We will ask parliament to wait until the current board's mandate expires,
after the elections," opposition Liberal party spokesman Eugen Nicolaescu told
Reuters.

The current BNR board, headed for most of the post-communist years by
governor Mugur Isarescu who has said he is keen to win a new term, was appointed by
parliament in mid-December 1998.

On Monday, officials from parliament said the BNR's board mandate expired
because new legislation -- which strengthens central bank independence in line
with EU standards and cuts its board term to five years from six -- was adopted
in July.

They said a new BNR board might be appointed next week.

Under the law, parliament's budget and finance commissions propose the bank's
nine-member board which is then approved by majority at a joint lower house
and senate assembly.

The Liberals, which has joined forces with the Democrats to face the
ex-communist Social Democrat Party (PSD) in November, said the move signals the PSD's
eagerness to secure jobs for its supporters while it still dominates the
current parliament.

Latest opinion surveys show the opposition gaining ground ahead of elections
but PSD still leads in voter preferences.

Analysts said Isarescu's job was unlikely to be challanged. He has led the
bank for almost 14 straight years -- except for his one-year as a caretaker
prime minister in 2000.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/21/2004 01:40:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST -- Romania is so impatient to join the European Union that
the EU's blue flag already is seen throughout the capital and inside
the imposing Senate building, the site where thousands of protesters
helped overthrow Nicolae Ceaucescu's communist dictatorship in 1989.

No less eager are big multinationals such as Microsoft Corp. and
Siemens AG. They join other foreign investors in watching for the
European Commission to decide on Oct. 6 whether Romania's overhauls
suffice to finish entry negotiations by the end of this year, allowing
Romania to join the EU along with Bulgaria in 2007.

The outcome is still uncertain: Unlike Bulgaria, which has speeded
through required reforms, Romania risks being left behind unless it
satisfies EU demands to better fight corruption, overhaul its
judiciary, improve its business environment and respect press freedom
and human rights.

The reformist party of Adrian Nastase, Romania's prime minister, could
find it harder to win the November general election if the EU
negotiations stall. This could present a new risk for the thousands of
foreign companies that have invested a total of nearly $10 billion in
the country during the past six years.

Most foreign direct investments have flowed into Romania in the hope
that it would be next in line for EU membership. Another draw is its
pool of talented workers and monthly wages of only about $200 -- about
a quarter of an EU average already sharply reduced by earlier EU
entrants from Eastern Europe.

Romanian officials publicly are optimistic. Viorel Ardeleanu, a
Brussels-based Romanian diplomat working for Romania's EU entry, sees
the challenges. "But we're confident we'll get there," he said.

Yet recent warnings from EU headquarters in Brussels have rattled even
the most ardent optimists. The EU is suffering from expansion fatigue
as it struggles to come to terms with the recent increase in
membership to 25 countries from 15.

Jean-Christophe Filori, spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner
Gunter Verheugen, said: "The EU is exhausted after the last big
enlargement in May. In the case of Romania, there are still big
challenges in the areas of corruption, governance and the rules of law."

EU and Romanian officials alike say graft and corruption are the
biggest challenges the country must overcome.

Last year, the government investigated nearly 1,100 teachers, doctors
and others for taking bribes in return for such things as issuing fake
exam results and distributing medicine, according to the Romanian
government.

To crack down on corruption among high government officials, the
government two years ago created an anti-corruption prosecutor's
office. Since then, four government ministers, four state secretaries,
seven judges and prosecutors, 23 court bailiffs, 10 mayors, 18 customs
officials, three generals and 167 police officers have come under
criminal investigation.

Some foreign companies complain that the country suffers from vestiges
of the communist era's old command economy.

When Romania joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in April,
Bucharest announced abruptly that the occasion would be marked with a
state holiday. U.S. contract manufacturing firm Solectron Corp., which
operates its factory seven days a week, said it was forced to pay its
workers double time, or lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if the
factory was left idle. It was fined Euro 1,200 ($1,460) by local
authorities for ignoring the holiday.

"The people running this country still behave like the old communist
regime," said Liana Brasaveanu, Solectron head of human resources in
Romania.

Romania has been praised for introducing a unified tax code for
foreign and Romanian companies and for phasing out tax amnesties for
Romanian companies.

But foreign investors still believe they are under tighter tax
scrutiny to make up for tax relief given to Romanian companies.
Gilbert Wood, an American who is president of the Foreign Investors
Council in Bucharest and has dozens of foreign companies as clients,
said that "tax harassment" of Western firms is common.

Meanwhile, not everyone here is convinced that EU membership is that
desirable, and some Romanians grumble about feeling Brussels' heavy
regulatory hand even before entry into the EU.

Varujan Pambuccian, a member of the Romanian parliament, who has been
a key architect of the country's information-technology policy said:
"We already have lived under a dictatorship in this country -- and
joining the EU will just mean replacing one totalitarian regime with
another."

Write to Dan Bilefsky at dan.bilefsky@wsj.com

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/21/2004 01:34:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Monday, September 20, 2004
Business in Romania blog
WASHINGTON, September 17, 2004 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors yesterday approved a US$150 million loan, which is part of the multi-annual Programmatic Adjustment Loan (PAL) to support the Government’s structural and institutional reforms. The PAL actions are synchronized with the European accession goals and the precautionary standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund, and support the continuation of privatization and other structural reforms initiated under the previous Private Sector Adjustment Loan programs.

Under PAL I, Romania embarked on a phased reform program in the judicial, civil service and public expenditure management areas. In addition, the Government is taking measures to complete the privatization agenda, energy sector reforms, improvement in the business environment, and reform of the labor code and the capital market. These measures will contribute to Romania’s efforts to achieve a fully functioning market economy.

The successful completion of PAL I marks a transition to the next phase of structural reform, focusing on strengthening the institutional independence of the judiciary, developing a professional, transparent and efficient civil service, and strengthening corporate governance of the enterprise sector. Implementation of the follow-up PAL II is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 2005.

The World Bank has been a committed partner in Romania’s development process since 1990, with loans totaling over US$3.8 billion. Its current investment portfolio is worth over US$1.2 billion, in 27 active operations covering all sectors of the economy.


Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/20/2004 01:49:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
PARIS, Sept 19 (Reuters) - French auto maker Renault (RENA.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) will sell its no-frills "5,000 euro" car designed for emerging markets in western Europe from next year, its chairman said on Sunday.

The Logan, currently produced in Romania, will be sold in France and Germany from June 2005 for around 7,500 euros ($9,135) -- above its 5,000 euro starting price in developing countries, Louis Schweitzer told France's LCI television.

The car would hit showrooms in the rest of western Europe after that.

"It was something that we hadn't initially planned. We had intended to sell it in emerging markets only... but when we unveiled the car there was such intense interest and enthusiasm here that we said why not?" Schweitzer said.

The bargain-basement Logan was made for the tougher road conditions of developing countries, so selling it in western Europe is a bold step at a time when most carmakers are trying to nab market share by luring motorists with myriad gadgets and extra comfort.

Schweitzer said the car would fetch a higher price in western Europe due to transport costs from Romania and different tax rules, adding there would be no discounts or special offers.

Renault hopes the Logan, which is made by its Dacia unit and will be sold in eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, Latin America, China and possibly India, will account for around a fifth of the company's sales by 2010.

The car is a crucial plank of the Renault's international expansion after years of over-dependence on France and the cut-throat western European market. It is essential if the company is to hit a target of annual sales of four million vehicles by 2010.

Schweitzer has said the profit margins on the Logan should be around five percent -- roughly in line with the firm's average -- and that production will start in Russia, Morocco and Colombia next year, and Iran and probably China after that.

He played down speculation that the Logan would simply steal sales from Renault's entry level Twingo city car, noting the new model, which would be sold in Renault dealerships under the "Dacia by Renault" brand, was bigger and would likely attract a different type of buyer.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/20/2004 10:40:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Business in Romania blog
MONTREAL -- About 100 protesters booed and jeered the Romanian president yesterday, preventing him from giving a speech at a city park. President Ion Iliescu was to give a talk inaugurating a statue honouring a Romanian poet at Place de la Roumanie.

But dozens of protesters, mostly Romanian immigrants, showed up to rally against what they described as Romania's rampant corruption.

"All the leaders of the government are former secret police," an unidentified protester told CKAC radio.

"Iliescu has completely destroyed the country with his gang of machos," said another.

Iliescu left without speaking.

The Romanian president was in Quebec for a meeting with Prime Minister Paul Martin that took place Friday in Knowlton, about 100 kilometres southeast of Montreal.

Posted by Mihai : 9/19/2004 01:41:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Business in Romania blog
... probably I shouldn't publish this, but it's a great analysis ...

Why 2007 Is Too Soon
(by Tom Wilson, published in Ziarul Financiar)
September 17, 2004


Since this is going to be my last column for ZF for quite some time, I've decided to take the opportunity to say something particularly controversial; something that flies in the face of everything that most intelligent Romanians are praying for at the moment. In three weeks time, the European Commission will issue its country report. It will probably award Romania the status of 'functional market economy'. I desperately hope, however, that Romania won't be given this EC stamp of approval. This is because I hope that Romania fails to achieve EU entry in 2007.

The first reason is that external pressure from the EU could prove to be one of the only real chances Romania has of seeing genuine reforms - and anyone who believes that the current measures have gone far enough must be living under a rock large enough to kill them. What is needed is nothing short of a revolution at every administrative level, rather than the kind of legislative tinkering that has taken place. The EU's power to shame shouldn't be underestimated.

This alone would be a rather mean-spirited stance if it could be argued that EU membership would improve to the lot of the average citizen; should the general population really be penalised because of the shortcomings of their leaders? However, this EU entry won't be the magic wand it's expected to be. It won't improve the quality of life for the average Romanian. On the contrary, EU entry will worsen the economic exploitation of Romania. This, at least, is a view shared by Professor Tom Gallagher, Chair of Ethnic Conflict and Peace at Bradford University in the UK and author of numerous books on the region. Romania after accession will become, in his words, "Europe's very own Puerto Rico... an exploited dependency of a neighbouring Goliath."

The idea is just one of the themes explored in Gallagher's new book to be published in November, entitled "Theft of a Nation: Romania since communism". It's a scathing criticism of Romania's post-revolutionary reforms and the EU's acquiescence with the superficial changes to the regime that have taken place since 1989.

Gallagher is, however, no Euro-sceptic. "I'd be quite happy to see a United States of Europe," he explains to me in his lilting Scottish accent. I was lucky enough to catch him during his visit to Brasov earlier this week. "Turkey, for example, could be a perfect EU accession country, if it was able to sort out its problems in terms of human rights," he continues. It's a damning judgement of democratic reforms in Romania to suggest that a country with a reputation like Turkey is actually a better potential EU entrant. As he wrote in the New Statesman magazine last week, Gallagher is convinced that "there are implications for safety on the streets of Britain if a compliant Romanian judge can set free a top official involved in issuing passports to women who are sent, under coercion, to join the western European sex industry."

However, his concern isn't just for the effects Romania's entry will have on the West, but on the way in which ordinary Romanians are like to be affected by accession. "As tariffs come down, what we're seeing is a flood of imports. Pre-accession funds are supposed to be developing strong Romanian commerce, industry, agriculture or tourism, able to compete with this. But how can this possible happen when so much EU money is ending up elsewhere, the hands of a small elite?" he asks.

He identifies agriculture, in which 46% of the Romanian labour force is employed, as a central stumbling block. "Instead of designing a tailor-made solution for Romania, the EU has ploughed ahead with the same kind of agricultural policies it's used elsewhere. They simply won't work in Romania, because of its unique situation. Instead of making Romanian agriculture profitable, the end result of EU accession could be to succeed where Ceausescu failed - in driving people off the land." Unable to compete in the face of cheap (and heavily subsidised) EU imports, Gallagher is predicting some kind of EU-driven Systematisation. "The only difference," he explains, "would be that instead of being driven out of the countryside and into tower-blocks, people would be able to go and pick strawberries in Spain."

For flailing western economies, expansion would be a dream come true - a vast pool of cheap labour, a huge market for exports, and vast swathes of arable land at knock-down prices. Anyone who supports the aims that the EU was established to further needs to seriously ask themselves who it is that stands to profit from accession in 2007. Despite the numerous benefits that EU harmonisation would obviously bring, it seems unlikely that this will solve the underlying illnesses of the 'sick man of Europe'. Delayed accession, by contrast, could result in the genuine reforms that are still badly needed.

"Theft of a Nation: Romania since communism" will be published in Romania by Humanitas in November.

Author: Tom Wilson for ZF

Posted by Mihai : 9/18/2004 05:56:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Sept 17, 2004 (AXcess News) Bucharest - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said it had raised its long-term corporate credit ratings on Romanian wireless operator MobiFon Holdings B.V. and its parent Telesystem International Wireless Inc. (NASDAQ: TIWI, TSX: TIW) to 'B+' from 'B-'.

At the same time, Standard & Poor's affirmed the 'B-' ratings on MobiFon Holdings' US$225 million senior unsecured notes due July 2010. TIW owns 99.99% of MobiFon Holdings, which in turn owns 79% of MobiFon S.A. (MobiFon Holdings and MobiFon S.A. are collectively referred to as MobiFon). The outlook is stable.

The ratings reflect the completed transaction by TIW whereby MobiFon Holdings increased its ownership interest in MobiFon S.A. to 79% from 63.5%.

The ratings further reflect the improving credit quality of MobiFon. This is a materially relevant ownership threshold for the company, as the MobiFon S.A. statutes require a supermajority approval of shareholders (75%) for certain material financial changes. At the previous ownership level of 63.5%, MobiFon Holdings was not able to unilaterally control or access MobiFon; the default risk of MobiFon Holdings was previously considered separate from that of MobiFon, and MobiFon Holdings was therefore rated on a stand-alone basis. "Because MobiFon Holdings now has substantive control over MobiFon, the default risk on both entities is considered the same, and the credit profile reflects that of the consolidated company," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Joe Morin.
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"Furthermore, the improving credit quality at MobiFon is underpinned by an improving macroeconomic environment in Romania (BB/Positive/B), the company's growing subscriber base, and increasing revenues and EBITDA," Morin added.

The 'B-' rating on the US$225 million senior secured notes on MobiFon Holdings reflects its structural subordination to the senior secured credit facility at the operating company level. The 'B+' long-term corporate credit rating on TIW is also equalized with the corporate credit rating on MobiFon Holdings. Although TIW currently has a substantial cash balance, has no debt, and only modest corporate overhead expenses, the company is still dependent on dividends from MobiFon Holdings for its long-term cash needs. TIW's other wireless operating subsidiary, 27%-owned TIW Czech NV, is credit neutral to the ratings on TIW. TIW Czech is not expected to be in a position to provide dividends for several years. Then again, TIW Czech has no recourse to TIW, and therefore the default risk at TIW (and MobiFon) is delinked from TIW Czech.

The stable outlook reflects our expectations that MobiFon will maintain its competitive position within a growing wireless industry in Romania, and that the political and macroeconomic environments in Romania will remain stable or improve in the long term.

TIWI closed down 9 cents Friday to end the week at $9.61US.


Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/18/2004 04:20:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, September 17, 2004
Business in Romania blog
A recent innitiative of the Young Students Association (ATU - Asociatia Tinerilor Universitari) made my day....they started a project in which people can donate neurons to the Romanian politicians.

Every day, in University Square, people can come and sign up on donations list. They must specify their name, the number of neurons they are willing to donnate and the politician to whom they are donating the neurons. There is also a limitation: you cannot donate more than 10 neurons.

In the first day, they raised more than 100 neurons. The leader was, of course, Adrian Nastase.

Now, the reasons from which people are donating are pretty interesting: some donate because that politican is the smartest (they believe) and he/she can make good use of it, others donate because they say that particular politician is the dumbest and must be helped.

I would like to donate 10 neurons to Mr. Traian Basescu....he will probably make good use of it. The rest of them...they probably don't deserve any.




Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/17/2004 06:19:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - Romania has hundreds of companies that operate illegally and damage the image of the country abroad, the head of a foreign investors association said in comments published Thursday.

Foreign Investors Council Chairman Gilbert Wood said Romania, which does not yet have a market economy that functions by European Union standards, is being preyed on by corporate ``sharks'' that don't respect Western ways of doing business.

``There are some 500 sharks in Romania swimming in a pool following their own laws and distorting the market,'' the Adevarul newspaper quoted Wood as saying. He did not elaborate and was unavailable for comment Thursday.

The EU, which Romania wants to join in 2007, has repeatedly urged the government to speed up democratic and economic reforms and reduce corruption to qualify for membership.

Wood also complained that multinational companies don't benefit from the same treatment as state companies, some of which have been allowed to accrue large debts to the state, a practice the EU has criticized.

State companies ``benefit from having huge debts wiped off .

although some of these problems have been resolved,'' he said at a seminar on Romania's economy.

The average monthly salary in Romania is 6 million lei (US$180, euro150), and annual inflation is about 12.4 percent, compared to 7.2 percent in neighboring Hungary, which joined the EU in May.

Posted by Mihai : 9/17/2004 11:07:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
NEW YORK, Sept 14 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today it has raised its senior unsecured rating on the $200 million and $120 million notes issued on a fiduciary basis by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. for S.C. Termoelectrica S.A. to 'BB+' from 'BB'. This follows the upgrade of the foreign currency senior unsecured rating on the Republic of Romania to 'BB+' from 'BB' earlier today (see the related release entitled "Republic of Romania Long-Term FC Ratings Raised To 'BB+' on Structural Reforms; Outlook Stable," available on RatingsDirect, Standard & Poor's Web-based credit analysis system). J.P. Morgan issued the notes on a fiduciary basis to fund loans made by it to Termoelectrica and 18 thermal power plants.

"The rating on the notes is based on the unconditional and irrevocable guarantee by the Republic of Romania of the due payment of principal and interest on the loans to the fiduciary, with the fiduciary using the proceeds of principal and interest payments from either the borrowers or guarantor to pay the notes' coupons and redemption amounts," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Konrad Reuss.

Termoelectrica is 100%-owned by the Republic of Romania (foreign currency, BB+/Stable/B) and is not slated for full privatization in the near term. Termoelectrica is Romania's main producer of electric power and thermal heating. The company is stepping up its investment spending to boost efficiency and raise its environmental profile to EU standards--a vital objective in the Romanian government's EU accession plans.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/17/2004 10:05:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Business in Romania blog
The Government opened yesterday the new Government's House, that has been raised in the last 2 years.

The House features high-tech equipment (Swiss atomic watch, conference equipment, etc) as well as very high-class and fancy decorations, with marble and Gold all over the place.

Of course, the house has been built from public finances, meaning money that the Government takes from ordinary citizens, from companies and so on. The estimated investment is 500 bilion lei, meaning over 15 million USD.

Of course, when asked about if such an investment is justified, especially when the country is in very much in debt and when the teachers have an average income of about 100 USD / month, the government was very low-profile and declined to answer.

I couldn't stop thinking about the Statue of Liberty case in USA, which needed a fund-raising of about 300 million USD by 1986. Even though it was a symbol of the country, much more representative than a Government's House, it was built from fundraising, so that only those who would like to pay had to pay. It was a deep respect for the people's money, which unfortunately in Romania it lacks.

I ave the feeling that for the Government, the public money is like a deep wallet in which all the people put cash, but in the end the Government doesn't care....it thinks it is his to do whatever he wishes (higher wages for themselves, better buildings for themselves, better cars for themselves...and so on).

I really hope sometimes soon the Romanians are going to start asking serios questions about their money....if they care!


Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/16/2004 01:50:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Shareholders of Romania's largest oil company SNP Petrom voted to turn its Arpechim refining unit into a non-listed subsidiary, newspaper Adevarul reported on Wednesday.

A Petrom official contacted by Reuters declined to comment. Analysts said the move might clear the way for Austrian oil and gas group OMV -- which is buying a majority stake in Petrom -- to sell Arpechim and keep the 25.1 percent stake it owns in Romania's second-largest refiner, Rompetrol Group NV.

But OMV said the spin-off of Arpechim was part of internal restructuring at Petrom and was not linked to the future of its stake in Rompetrol.

"There is no connection between these matters," an OMV spokesman said, adding the Romanian competition authorities had not yet decided whether OMV would have to dispose of its Rompetrol stake.

Government officials have said OMV should sell the stake in Rompetrol to avoid becoming a monopoly in Romania after it buys Petrom, which has two refineries with total annual refining capacity of 8.0 million tonnes.

OMV is buying a majority stake in Petrom in a 1.5 billion euros ($1.84 billion) deal signed in July.

Adevarul said that Arpechim, with an annual refining capacity of 3.5 million tonnes, would become a non-listed company in which Petrom has 99.9 percent.

The paper said petrochemical plant Doljchim and around 340 filling stations out of Petrom's 600 would also become non-listed subsidiaries.

Under the privatisation deal in July, OMV committed to pay 669 million euros for a 33.34 percent stake in Petrom bought directly from the state and another 723 million to 860 million euros to increase its stake to 51 percent.

Posted by Mihai : 9/16/2004 11:48:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Business in Romania blog
(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 8, 2004--DURA Automotive Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:DRRA), today announced plans to open a manufacturing plant in Timisoara, Romania. The facility will produce a broad range of automotive components for automakers in Central and Eastern Europe. Groundbreaking will begin this month, with production to start in 2005.

"This is another step forward in enhancing our multi-geographic-flexibility to support our customers wherever they are in the world," said Larry Denton, president and chief executive officer of DURA Automotive. "Opening a facility in Romania is a continuation of our growth strategy with automakers expanding operations throughout Eastern Europe."

The initial 50,000-square-foot Timisoara facility is the first phase of a four-phase plan that will be supported by new business contracts to produce automotive driver control systems and body and glass systems. This will be the fifth DURA plant based in Central/Eastern Europe; DURA currently has three operations in the Czech Republic and a fourth facility in Slovakia.

Automakers with current or announced manufacturing operations in the Central/Eastern Europe region include Avtovaz, BMW, Dacia, Daewoo, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, PSA, Renault-Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen.

About DURA Automotive Systems, Inc.

DURA Automotive Systems, Inc., is the world's largest independent designer and manufacturer of driver control systems and a leading global supplier of seating control systems, engineered assemblies, structural door modules and integrated glass systems for the global automotive industry. The company is also a leading supplier of similar products to the North American recreation and specialty vehicle markets. DURA sells its automotive products to every North American, Japanese and European original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and many leading Tier 1 automotive suppliers. DURA is headquartered in Rochester Hills, Mich. Information about DURA and its products is available on the Internet at www.duraauto.com.

Posted by Mihai : 9/15/2004 04:18:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
LONDON (Standard & Poor's) Sept. 14, 2004--Standard & Poor's Ratings
Services said today it raised its long-term foreign currency sovereign
credit rating on the Republic of Romania to 'BB+' from 'BB'. At the same
time, the long- and short-term local currency sovereign credit ratings on
Romania were raised to 'BBB-' and 'A-3', from 'BB+' and 'B', respectively.
The outlook is stable.

"The upgrade reflects the country's significant progress in reforming its
state-owned enterprise sector, together with EU membership prospects,"
said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Moritz Kraemer. "Romania's recent
progress in structural reforms should lead to lasting improvements in
public sector finances. Moreover, prospects for deepening parastatal
reform are encouraging."

Improved macroeconomic stability and microeconomic reform have increased
the probability that Romania will become a member of the EU by the
official target date of 2007. The ratings remain constrained, however, by
institutional weaknesses, external imbalances, and low levels of economic
prosperity, although there would be a gradual catch-up with
investment-grade sovereigns if the government follows through on the
current reform agenda.

"Romania's improved prospects for becoming a member of the EU by 2007 are
balanced with its external vulnerabilities," said Mr. Kraemer. "EU
membership would make the economic modernization process irreversible."

A sustained commitment to fiscal consolidation and microeconomic reform
by the government that emerges from the November 2004 elections could lead
to an upgrade of the foreign currency ratings to investment grade in the
medium term. A delay to EU membership into 2008 would not in itself put
any downward pressure on the ratings on Romania. Nevertheless, further
weakening of the current account balance and the concomitant effects on
external debt and liquidity could lead to a lowering of Romania's credit
rating, especially if net foreign direct investment were to fall short of
expectations.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/15/2004 10:08:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Austrian company Wienerberger opened a plant in Romania yesterday. Wienerberger, an Austrian company founded in 1819, is the largest bricks producer world-wide.

The plant was opened in Gura Ocnitei in Romania, with an estimated investment of 18 million Euro. The plant will produce around 140 million bricks yearly, all of them being targeted at the Romanian market.

Mr. Wolfgang Reithofer, CEO of Wienerberger, estimates that only 45% of the Romanian bricks market is saturated, leaving a good space for new investments and new companies comming to this market.

Wienerberger also bought this year a plant in Sibiu and are estimating a 10 million euro revenue from the Romanian market in 2004.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/15/2004 09:56:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Business in Romania blog
I recently found out that the Romanian government plans to put an income taxes for the wedding gift received by the (happilly) married couple.

According to the news source, the Romanian government, together with the Ministry of Finance, is working on a law project that will attract to the state budget a 19% tax from the gift the married couple receives at the wedding. The reason for this is attracting more money to the state budget, who is significantly lower than predicted.

The officials also thought of the manner in which this money will be collected. This way, a new public position will be created, the "wedding tax collector". His/Hers job will be to check for the weekly list of weddings from each City Hall and to go to the party in order to identify the total value of the gift.

This will probably be the most un-welcome guest at the wedding, but he will be a constant presence.

Even though a lot of married couples in Romania still have a very big problem in ordanizing the wedding, the government wants to impose another (stupid) tax on this kind of income. Usually, the couples use this gift for major investments like buying a house or a car, investments that are otherwise very hard to tackle.

I believe its not necessary to emphasise how stupid this law seems to me, but still...I have some questions:

1. How will they prevent the possible corruption of the "wedding tax collector"?
2. What skills does a "wedding tax collector" need to have?
3. Where can I apply for this job?

:)



Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/14/2004 04:56:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Sept 13 (Reuters) - An alliance of opposition parties ranking second in voters preferences in Romania pledged it would cut taxes if it wins November 28 elections, Ziarul Financiar financial newspaper reported on Monday.

Analysts have said that taxation, among the highest in the region, deters foreign investment in the ex-communist Balkan country that hopes to join the European Union in 2007.

"We will cut taxes on income, profit and social security contributions," Theodor Stolojan, running for president for an alliance made up from the opposition liberals (PNL) and democrats (PD), said during a visit in the north-east of Romania.

Last month, the ruling ex-communist Social Democrat Party (PSD) approved a cut in corporate tax to 19 percent from 25 percent and a cut in income tax to 14 percent from 18 for the lowest bracket and to 38 percent from 40 for the highest, starting next year.

It also lowered by two percentage points the social security contributions paid by companies and employees to 47.5 percent.

Stolojan, a former Romanian prime minister and World Bank executive, did not give figures for the cut envisaged by the opposition alliance, saying they would be made public later this month when the electoral programme would be revealed.

A survey published earlier this month put the PSD ahead in voters preferences with 39 percent, followed by the opposition alliance of PNL and PD with 34 percent.

Posted by Mihai : 9/14/2004 04:51:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
(Source: Jurnalul National)

The Romanian-British economic forum assembled in London last week-end the great majority of the people contributing to the two billion euros worth bilateral trade volume this year.

Romania came to the forum having to show some interesting developments: a 7% growth rate forecast for this year, which is the highest in Europe, and the quasi-certainty it will be accepted in the European Union in 2007. These are good foundations for investments in a domestic market which still can absorb a lot.

The title of the forum was “Competitive business relationships in the New Europe.” The New Europe here was not the one American defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, referred to during the Europe-U.S. crisis. The New Europe here hinted at the new type of relationships forging among old and new members of the EU.

Lord Alan Watson opened the debate at the Hilton Hotel, suggesting a new approach should be made than looking at statistics to assess the integration pace of various countries. Stark figures say Lithuania needs 53 years to catch up with the European developed countries, Poland – 59 years, and Romania – 80.
This means that the Romanians to live on an equal foot with the other Europeans are not even born yet.

“Such a conclusion might depress me, said Lord Watson. If we focus on the tough problems Romania still has, the conclusion may only be pessimistic. But statistics say nothing about people, or the vitality of the young generation, or the exceptional ability Romanian have to adapt and to innovate, or their high level of culture, which radically changes such depressing statistics.”
He added that two million Romanian school children learn English, and cited that as a further argument on behalf of his take.

The Romanian model of “stepping stones” type of development is well illustrated by the mobile phone sector. This was a short cut from developing a costly fixed line telephony network. Also praised were the solutions found to solve the crisis in the orphanages, the political decisions regarding adoptions, and the rhythm of negotiating the accession chapters to the EU.
Romania moves foreword, was the conclusion of the economic forum.

During the plenary meeting Adrian Severin [former minister] commented on the consequences of globalization on Romanian politics. Because of this phenomenon, he said, Romania is led by three governments: one in Bucharest, responsible for the national policy regarding cohesion and specific interests, a second one in Brussels, which pushes the EU policy towards Romania, and a third one in Washington, where the headquarters of the IMF and the World Bank are.

Maria Luisa Cicogani, director with the EBRD, directly criticized the Romanian National Bank for suppressing the consumer goods credit market. The fact that a lot of debt is accumulated outside the banking system because of the credits should not block the governmental lending, Cicogani said. The aggregate of consumer goods credits in Romania is smaller than the EU average or the one in the new EU members.

Romanian president [Ion Iliescu] and [former] King Michael both took part in the economic forum. They did not know of each others presence at the forum, but when the president was informed by the Jurnalul national correspondent, he adapted quickly to the situation and went to greet Michael I. Bogdan Popovici, the head of the team organizing the forum, marked another professional success with this event.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/14/2004 10:02:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Monday, September 13, 2004
Business in Romania blog
A new law under consideration by the Romanian Parliament could affect thousands of small businesses run by foreigners.
By Razvan Amariei for Southeast European Times in Bucharest – 13/09/04


Many small businesses will be affected if the law is passed.

Under new draft legislation proposed by the Romanian government, foreign investors will have to prove a minimum contribution in cash or technology in order to have their staying permits released or renewed.

They will also have to comply with conditions requiring that their investment create a minimum number of full-time jobs.

The bill sets 70,000 euros as the minimum monetary contribution and 15 jobs as the employment minimum in cases where the foreigner is the only owner of a company, and a minimum of 50,000 euros when he is a shareholder.

"The economic environment needed a clarification regarding the status and the seriousness of the foreign investors. Without any doubt, there will be negative reactions," the weekly Capital quoted Romanian Agency for Foreign Investments head Alexandru Popa as saying. "Companies and people will be affected."

Currently, 102,000 companies with foreign owners do business in Romania. Many were established with comparatively small investments of money and technology. For example, the 8,300 Chinese firms in Romania have invested an average of 13,000 euros per company. The 5,800 Iraqi firms have invested an average of 5,454 euros. Western investors -- including Italian, Austrian, French, American and Canadian businessmen -- could also be negatively affected.

"I have a restaurant in Arad County and I used all my savings -- more than 35,000 euros, to build it," says Italian businessman Nino Melone. "I think the limits they suggested are exaggerated, especially in a country where the medium monthly wage is about 140 euros."

Muhammed Al-Khatar, a Jordanian entrepreneur living in Bucharest, describes the legislation as a "bad thing".

"I came to Romania 12 years ago. I have two rented stores here, I bought a house, and I have friends … Now I should leave anything and go … And I don't want to go back to my country," he says.

But officials are adamant. "If a foreigner doesn't have 70,000 euros and if he cannot create 15 jobs, it's hard to believe his presence is really significant," according to Popa. "Moreover, our studies proved that such investors interacted mainly with the grey and black markets."

Meanwhile, foreign businessmen who meet the new requirements stand to benefit. Under the legislation, they will enjoy the same rights as Romanian citizens, including tax reductions and exemptions, as well as the chance to buy real estate.

Posted by Mihai : 9/13/2004 06:25:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Rochester Hills-based DURA Automotive Systems Inc., an automotive supplier, will expand its business in Romania by opening a manufacturing plant in Timisoara. The plant will produce a broad range of automotive components for automakers in central and eastern Europe. Groundbreaking will begin this month, with production to start in 2005.

Unfortunately, this is all the info I have right now on this business, but promise to come back with more info when available.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/13/2004 02:38:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Hi,

I have just added a few days ago the RSS feature to this blog.

For those of you unfamiliar with this feature, it helps you to get in your Outlook e-mail the new posts from the blog. All you have to do is install a "news aggregator" software like NewsGator (one of my favourites) that smoothly integrates into your Outlook application and it will retrieve, every hour or so, the new posts that appear on this blog.

The address you have to enter in NewsGator is http://feeds.feedburner.com/BusinessRomania-RomanianBlogAboutBusinessAndCulture.
Also, you can find this link by clicking on the XML icon on the right side of this page.

The good thing about NewsGator is that it will also help you get the latest news from various newspapers and magazines across the world. Very useful for people who are in need of quick access to latest news.

For any questions, e-mail me.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/13/2004 01:50:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said on
Sunday he saw gross domestic product growing by 7.5 percent this year
compared with the 6.5 percent official target, due to a good wheat crop.

Last month, Romania revised upwards its economic growth target for 2004 to
6.5 percent from 5.5 percent due to a better-than-expected GDP advance by 6.6
percent in the first six months of the year.

A statement by the government said Nastase hoped growth would reach eight
percent in the coming years.

Romania harvested a three-year record high wheat crop of 7.65 million tonnes
this year against 2.47 million in 2003.

Officials have said Romania, which hopes to join the European Union in 2007,
needs growth rates faster than the current 5-6 percent to catch-up with EU
levels.

But analysts say restructuring is key to ensuring a healthy GDP rise and to
prevent overheating as the country is striving to cut inflation to 9.0 percent
this year from 14.1 percent in 2003.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/13/2004 01:05:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Romania's month-on-month consumer price
inflation is seen slowing to about 0.5 percent in August after quickening to 1.3
percent in July, a senior government official said on Thursday.

The ex-communist Balkan country, which hopes to join the European Union in
2007, wants to cut inflation - one of the highest in the region - to 9.0 percent
this year and to 6-7 percent in 2005 from 14.1 percent in 2003. "We expect
only marginal differences in official figures a senior official from the
government's prognosis agency told Reuters, referring to data due to be released by
the National Statistics Board on Sept. 10.

The figure foreseen for August CPI matches market expectations. The median
estimate of 12 analysts pooled by Reuters put August's inflation at 0.5 percent.

The official said consumer price rises were forecast at below one percent per
month until the end of the year. He said August's blip in retail fuel prices
might offset the impact of a seasonal easing in prices of food.

"Some fuel price hikes are seen offsetting price cuts in vegetables and other
agricultural produce," he said.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/12/2004 07:16:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, September 10, 2004
Business in Romania blog
(source: The Economist)

The political elite is made up of left and centre-left parties that have their origins in the post-war communist party; the traditional, predominantly right and centre-right, inter-war parties; the nationalist parties; and a party that represents the Hungarian minority. None of the main political groupings has been able to win enough support to form a majority government. The formation of stable, lasting government coalitions has been complicated by deep personal animosities that run through the political scene. Most parties have deep internal divisions, resulting in constant political realignments.

(a) Representatives of national minorities (other than the HDUR) receive one seat each in the Chamber of Deputies. In 2000, 18 seats in the Chamber of Deputies were assigned to minorities.


The return of the PSDR

The PSDR dominated post-communist politics at national and local levels between 1989 and 1996, when it was defeated by the DC, a centre-right coalition. However, the PSDR capitalised on the poor performance of the centre-right government and won the largest number of seats in both parliamentary chambers in the November 2000 election. The PSDR, subsequently re-named the SDP, formed a minority government and has succeeded in avoiding the intra-governmental feuding that bedevilled the centre-right coalition of 1996-2000. Although the SDP is composed largely of former communists, and its support is strongest among older voters and rural workers, its policies have moved towards the social democratic centre under the direction of the prime minister and party chairman, Mr Nastase. This has enabled the party to increase its support among the middle classes, and the absence of a clear alternative on the left has allowed it has retained the support of its core electorate.


Nationalists remain a potentially potent force

The ultra-nationalist GRP won 20% of the popular vote and became the second largest party in both chambers of parliament in the 2000 elections. The GRP has traditionally advocated anti-Hungarian and anti-Semitic policies, the return of former Romanian territories and the renationalisation of industry. The GRP’s flamboyant leader, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, forced Mr Iliescu into a second-round run-off for the presidency in 2000 after winning a stunning 28% of the vote in the first round. With support for his party having fallen in recent years, Mr Tudor has tried to tone down his ultra-nationalist image in a bid to bring the party into the mainstream of Romanian politics. He has apologised to people targeted by his "verbal excesses" and for pamphlets criticising Jews. Although Romania's progress towards membership of the EU may have undermined the appeal of Mr Tudor, the GRP remains a force in Romanian politics, with the support of about 17% of voters in late 2003.


Centrist parties regroup

The Democratic Convention (DC), a group of centre-right parties dominated by the National Peasant-Christian Democratic Party (NP-CDP), was the leading partner in the government coalition of 1996-2000. However, after the National Liberal Party (NLP) decided to contest the election separately, the DC failed to achieve the threshold of 10% of the popular vote required for an electoral coalition to win representation in the 2000-04 parliament. The NLP, which commanded only 7% of the vote at the 2000 election, has improved its standing since the election of Theodor Stolojan as its leader in August 2002, and is now indisputably the leading centre-right party. In September 2003 the NLP and the Democratic Party (DP) formed an alliance to contest the 2004 elections. The DP has been struggling to regain popular support under the leadership of Traian Basescu, the popular mayor of Bucharest, who took over from Petre Roman at the party congress in May 2001. The NLP-DP alliance managed to register itself as a political entity under its preferred name, Justice and Truth, only in January 2004, after various bodies with a similar name had filed court appeals against it. However, judicial delays are only one of the reasons that the alliance has not made headway. The alliance has failed to increase its support levels since its formation and was polling around 27-30% at the end of 2003. The alliance has yet to elaborate a clear political programme and has already been undermined by inter-party wrangling over the allocation of parliamentary seats. It will have to make major inroads into the support of both the SDP and GRP to have a chance of winning the parliamentary election. The Christian democratic bloc has fragmented and is unlikely to gain representation in the next parliament.


HDUR divided

The HDUR represents the interests of more than 1.6m ethnic Hungarians, who are largely concentrated in the north-western Transylvania region. Popular support for the HDUR has held steady at around 6-7%, representing the share of the Hungarian minority in the total population. The HDUR was for many years divided between a more militant faction led by Bishop Laszlo Tokes, which advocated territorial political autonomy—anathema to most Romanians—and a more moderate faction led by Bela Marko, which emphasised cultural and educational rights for the Hungarian minority. As expected, the party split in 2003, with the Tokes faction leaving the HDUR to form the National Council of Transylvanian Hungarians and campaign on the autonomy question. In 2001-03 the HDUR had a formal parliamentary co-operation pact with the SDP, but this has yet to be renewed in 2004.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/10/2004 10:39:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Yesterday, a political alliance has been developed between PSD, the largest Romanian party and PUR (Romanian Humanist Party) - a small but active party.

The members of the two parties will run on the same election lists for the Romanian Parliament and the Romanian Presidency. As PSD is the largest (and still the most popular) party in Romania, the cadidates for presidency and for the prime-minister seats will be Adrian Nastase (PSD) and Mircea Geoana (PSD). So PUR will only have a vice-prime-minister and maybe some ministers as well, is the alliance wins the elections.

What was more interesting about this alliance it was the manner in which Romanian TV channels related the story. As you might know, Mr. Voiculescu, leader of PUR is also the big boss in Antena 1, one of the largest TV stations in Romania. Maybe this is why on the news, Antena 1 presented about 10 minutes this news, with a lot of nice images from the aliance's conference.

On the other side, Realitatea TV, a smaller but very professional and active TV station in Romania, presented the news in about 2 minutes, but focused mostly on the attacks Mr. Nastase and Mr. Voiculescu expressed towards their competitors for the Presidency seat, the PNL-PD alliance.

So while on Antena 1 everything was bright and beautiful, on Realitatea TV (Reality TV) the conference was just a shameful attack towards competitors and even quite an illegal (and immoral) thing to do.

Which draws the same conclusion, that the Romanian political class is waaaay behind a moral and fair fight.




Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/10/2004 10:09:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Romania amended its election law on Tuesday to
allow President Ion Iliescu to run for the senate in the Balkan country's
November elections, a move decried by opposition parties as "shameful."

Iliescu, 74, who ends his second and final term as president after the
elections, will run as an independent on the list of the ruling Social Democratic
Party (PSD) which he founded after the 1989 fall of communism.

Parliament, which is dominated by the PSD, approved the election law change,
but the two main opposition parties walked out in protest.

The centrist opposition says the move is unconstitutional because, even
though Iliescu proposes to stand as an independent, his candidacy on PSD's ticket
will undoubtedly boost the image of the party, which fared badly in local polls.

Romania's constitution says the president must be non-partisan until he ends
his term.

"It's shameful, it's against the constitution. The single aim of this law is
to bring back Iliescu and improve PSD's election chances," Octavian Hanganu, a
senator of the opposition Democrat Party said.

VOTE BOYCOTTED

Parliament voted on Tuesday to add a paragraph to the existing election law
saying "the incumbent president of the country can run as an independent on a
party's list."

The Democrats and the Liberals, who are running joint candidates as an
alliance in November, boycotted the vote.

But they said they had no plans to mount a legal challenge.

Opinion polls show the alliance gaining ground ahead of the simultaneous
parliamentary and presidential Nov. 28 elections.

Analysts said the PSD was desperate to improve its appeal. Iliescu remains
popular in the countryside and appears untarnished from corruption allegations
dogging other PSD politicians.

"It's a scandal, this is an abuse. It's a law made for the sake of a single
man and not for the people," independent political analyst Stelian Tanase told
Reuters. "The PSD desperately need Iliescu on their lists to have a chance to
win the election."

Moscow-educated Iliescu resigned as party leader shortly after winning the
2000 elections to conform with the constitution. He will return as party head
after the elections.

He enjoyed almost nationwide popularity immediately after the December 1989
revolution when Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was deposed and executed.

But his opponents accuse him of stealing the revolution from the people and
orchestrating post-revolutionary political violence.

In June 1990, a month after the first democratic elections, Iliescu summoned
20,000 coalminers to crush demonstrations against his ruling National
Salvation Front (NSF) in Bucharest. Six people were killed and more than 100 injured.

He branded the opposition as "hooligans" but Western countries blamed him for
the bloodshed and treated him as a international pariah for years.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/09/2004 04:43:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog


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