Romania eyes Gulf investment

Reuters , Sunday 6 Mar 2011

Forum aims to place eastern European nation 'on the map of GCC's economic interests'

Romania will host an economic forum bringing together officials and businessmen from the oil-rich Gulf countries, hoping to become an investment hub in the region, a senior diplomat said.

"The Gulf countries want to set up a bridgehead in Central and Eastern Europe. Romania must strive to become an investment hub for them in the region," ambassador-at-large Vasile Sofineti told AFP.

"Our aim is to place Romania on the map of the Gulf countries' economic interests," he stressed.

The two-day forum organized jointly by the Romanian foreign ministry and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will start Tuesday and focus on investment opportunities in energy, banking, agriculture, construction and tourism.

Despite the political turmoil in Bahrain and Oman - two of the GCC members, alongside Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - several ministers and some 200 businessmen will take part in the reunion.

"The participants will discuss projects worth around 10 billion euros, mainly in gas, oil and infrastructure," Sofineti said.

He added that unlike most of Romania's traditional partners, the Gulf countries were spared from the negative impact of the global economic crisis.

"Romanian businessmen hope to recover what they lost following the collapse of the communist regime, in 1989, and the recession having hit this country in 2009," Mihai Ionescu, head of the exporters and importers' association ANEIR, said.

He recalled that communist Romania had strong ties with some of the Gulf states and regretted that the "rich tradition" of cooperation in energy and infrastructure going back to the 1970s and the 1980s was abandoned after 1989.

A follow-up meeting is to be organized in January 2012 in one of the Gulf countries.

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