Doing Business in Romania
“Once upon a time, the mysterious and creepy realm of Dracula seemed like a figment of Bram Stoker’s imagination. But it turns out that the inspiration for this dark kingdom is real, found in a Romanian province. The mist-covered mountains are real, the crumbling castles are real, the howling wolves, swooping bats, peasants making the sign of the cross, all real.”(Marilyn Johnson, Life, Nov. 1994)
Romania is situated in the south-eastern part of Europe and shares borders with Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
- Physical features:
• Land area: 238,391 sq km
• Mountains: 31% of Romania's territory
• Hills and orchards: 36%
• Plains: 33%
- About 21,700,000 people live in Romania and more than 10,000,000 Romanians across the world, in Diaspora
- Ethnic distribution is: 89% Romanian 7.5% Hungarian, 1.9% Gypsy, German, Ukrainian, Armenian, Croatian, Serbian and Turkish. More than 55% of Romania's population lives in towns and cities.
- The capital city of Romania is Bucharest, with an estimated population of 2,500,000
- Most of the visitors consider Romania one of the friendliest and most hospitable countries in Europe. Romanians are fun loving, warm, hospitable, and playful people, with an innate sense of humour and especially self-irony.
- Religions and Christian confessions : Eastern Orthodox 87%, Roman Catholic 5% and Protestant 5%, Neo-Protestant denominations 2%, other religions 1 %
- The city of Sibiu (southern Transylvania) was chosen, along with the city of Luxembourg, as the European Capital of Culture in 2007.
Romanian is a Latin based language, very closed to the language of the ancient Roman Empire, even closer than Italian. Here a 31-letter Latin alphabet is in use. The major ethnic minorities, Hungarians and Germans use their own languages in school and civil administration. The literacy rate in Romania is approximately 98% and most young Romanians living in towns and cities are able to communicate both in English and French.
Business culture and etiquette
Romanians are very sociable people and love to talk everywhere and anytime, so mobile phones are a powerful tool for a businessman in the city. Romanians are also very famous for their hospitality. Business meetings and cocktails parties are in the majority of the cases very warm and friendly. Business lunches are also very common. Work colleagues, after a hard day, especially in multinational companies, often socialise together in the evening at a local bar. It is quite uncommon for a Romanian to invite foreign businesspeople to their homes or do business in a residential place. Western business etiquette regarding timekeeping is followed. Appointments should be made in advance and checked again before the respective date. Being a country still in transition, it might prove beneficial to your business to make friends with influential businessman and politicians. This type of connections with influential persons becomes very advantageous in times of business instability. Romanians are willing to work during the weekends and holidays as well, but not at times of major Holidays (Christmas and Easter) unless they see this as profitable. However, you should avoid making business contacts during July and August, as this is the time when all Romanians are at the seaside, completely forgetting about any kind of business.
Prediction and negotiations
Romania has a tradition of legislative flux and possible business instability. This is mostly because of the legislative efforts to harmonise the Romanian business community with EU requirements. Thus, for the foreign businessmen it will be a good opportunity to improve their business anticipation skills, particularly because of frequent changes in the law. Business negotiations in Romania and elsewhere in the South Eastern European region also have a particular flavour, as seen as the real interpersonal type of doing business.
Recent business history
- Romania is a member of the European Union.
- Romania, the second biggest market in Eastern Europe, after Poland, with a democratic and finally reforming government is expected to be the principal actor for absorbing foreign investment over the rest of the decade.
- Positive economical growth factors (2006):
- GDP: $ 202.6 million, GDP (per capita) approximately 10.000 $,
- 90% of business companies expect large profit in the coming 3 years,
- GDP growth is the fastest in the CEE and is expected to grow in the same manner.
Beliefs and superstitions
In Dracula, Jonathan Harker notes: “I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool”. Romanians are very superstitious people, like most Latin people, their traditions run back from Roman and Thracian times. Western Europe tends to see Romanians in Bram Stoker’s way, a country full of superstitions and imaginary creatures…which is just in part true! If taking flowers as a gift, only take an odd number (an even number is related to funeral customs). All dreams between Saturday and Sunday will come true. At Easter, if you go to the church, you should keep a red egg next to your chest, because you will always have red cheeks. At Easter or at Christmas, you should eat fish or chicken so that you should be as light as the bird and as quick as the fish.
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