Honorable Deputy Prime Minister, His Excellency Ambassador Noble, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here on this year’s Fondul Proprietatea Investor Day. This gathering is a chance for us every year to see how far we have come, and to look toward the future and the immense potential that it holds for Romania.
Through our cooperation under the U.S.-Romania Strategic Partnership for more than 20 years, we have been promoting the prosperity of both Romania and the United States. Creating a more prosperous Romania with sustainable long-term economic growth and investment requires continued macro-economic stability, prudent fiscal and economic policies and innovation, all underpinned by rule of law, and effective anti-corruption mechanisms.
Investment, both international and domestic, is the foundation of economic prosperity for any country and its people. As Romania competes for new foreign investment, it is just as important to support investors already here; many of whom continue to expand their presence and increase their own investments in Romania.
All investors, foreign and domestic, look for stability, predictability, and transparency. They value a relationship with Romanian decision-makers and they seek a business climate that validates those important investment decisions to allow their businesses to continue to contribute to Romania’s sustained and increasing economic growth, create jobs, make a profit, and grow their own enterprises.
Foreign investors, current and future, need to know that they are welcome and that they can operate in Romania without fear of being targeted with unfounded rhetoric. They should continue to be recognized for bringing the capital, innovation, jobs, training and revenue to Romania and contributing to the growth of the country.
It is important also to focus on fair and impartial enforcement of corporate governance. Public and private corporations are strengthened by a formal structure of procedures, rights and responsibilities that allow investors to be comfortable providing money and make the original owners willing to share that ownership more broadly. In addition, fiscal decisions from the Government side, that are made in consultation with stakeholders and look at both the impact on the state budget and the taxpayers, create a system that encourages that investment. And again, that investment which is increased in Romania year on year and contributing to its growth.
As Romania prepares to take over the presidency of the Council of European Union, I think of a quote from New York Times bestselling author John Maxwell: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
Knowing the way involves doing the real work of transparent and broad consultations with stakeholders. Knowing the way also entails regulatory impact assessments, to make sure that any legislation has the appropriate consequences for businesses, for the Romanian people, and for the country.
Going the way means, as Romania has been doing, means sound and sustainable economic growth. Romania has made incredible strides to improve its business climate and the quality of life of its people. In the face of changing market conditions, Romania has made progress toward sustained economic convergence with other EU member states. But we can all do more to ensure this country’s leadership and competitiveness.
Romania has proven that it can show the way by its leadership as a staunch ally, living up to its commitments as a NATO member. And, it can continue to show the way by further developing its resources, advancing energy security and supporting economic growth.
Romania can increase its appeal to investors by focusing on infrastructure and tapping the potential of the capital market. Listing state-owned enterprises would benefit Romania by providing access to financing for companies that need investment. It would provide government shareholders with an objective measure of the company’s value, and a way to assess the trends of that value under market conditions. Listings also increase productivity and profitability, in no small part because they require increased transparency, sound corporate governance, and more efficient management. The United States strongly encourages more IPOs in Romania, particularly in state-owned enterprises, which could tip the balance for Romania and bring it into Emerging Market status. Moving from Frontier to Emerging Market status could provide access to significantly more capital to the benefit of everyone – the companies, the state, and the citizens of Romania.
The United States stands ready to continue our cooperation to achieve the type of long-term economic growth that supports our mutual prosperity and strengthens our transatlantic partnership.
Fondul Proprietatea and Franklin Templeton have been steadfast partners in this goal, working with Romania since 2010, to build Romania’s prosperity. Thank you for your efforts toward achieving our common economic goal and thank you again for the invitation to join you today.