We speak many times at macroeconomic level about GDP growth and market trends when comparing the evolution of Romanian economy year on year and sometimes we do not stress enough the performance of individual firms. However, it is fair to say that some of the economic players have outstanding results that change the game of the industry they are active in and set the benchmark for the other firms. They are the top performers that, at microeconomic level, weave the entrepreneurial and business environment of Romania. We need to celebrate their achievements in order to inspire future success in our business community. That is why I want to congratulate International Business Promotion for this incredible 18th edition of Major Companies. Last year Romania saw better economic conditions which stimulated further economic growth. However, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Romania entered a negative territory in 2014, after increased FDI levels in 2012 and 2013. The FDI level stood at EUR 2.43 billion in 2014, according to National Bank, 11% less than in 2013 and well below the 2008 record of EUR 9.5 billion.
In the same time, with 24 SMEs per thousand inhabitants, Romania has the second lowest SME density in
the European Union, well below the European average of 40 SMEs and the average in countries like Hungary (57 SMEs per thousand inhabitants) and Bulgaria (41).
And the trend was not positive in 2014, when the number of newly established companies was 101,000, almost 19% lower than in 2013, representing the lowest number of companies created in the last seven years in Romania. We now know that 2015 was a much better year for FDI and the business creation rate, both entering positive territory.
However, it is still true that Romania’s economy is heavily reliant on the contributions of large players, making the more important for us the endeavor to recognize their role in the lives of their employees and their community.
Coming back to entrepreneurship activity in 2015, I want to note that Romanian business leaders are focusing on growth, while business sentiment is on the rise. 55% of business leaders show confidence in the current economic direction of the country, according to our business outlook barometer ‘A vision for growth’. The outlook for turnover growth is also positive: 40% of companies foresee a significant growth of +10% to +31% of turnover in H2 2015. 44% report increase in the capital expenditure, while 9% say they will register a rise in investments, exceeding +30% this year, compared to 2014. This trend is set to continue in the following year, with 27% of entrepreneurs feeling very confident in the growth of their own company. This progression will likely be the effects of 2014 investments, as well as focus on productivity increase (28%) and diversified production (20%). Cost reduction, the first reaction to the economic crisis in 2009, still remains in the top three strategies for raising competitiveness.
The financial results of the top performers of Romanian economy should be seen in this largest context. In the end, I would like to say that we look forward to support the International Business Promotion initiative and challenge Romanian top players to undertake the reflexive endeavor of benchmarking their performances against the competitors, in the years to come.