Introduction

ROMANIA'S TRANSITION TO A MARKET ECONOMY HAS NOT BEEN EASY, BUT IN THE LAST DECADE THE COUNTRY HAS UNDERGONE GENUINE REFORM, HELPED BY A RESTRUCTURING PROGRAM COVERING ALL SECTORS OF THE ECONOMY. WITH THE ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT OF FOREIGN PARTNERS, ROMANIA IS NOW ON THE RIGHT TRACK TO ACHIEVING ITS LONG-CHERISHED HOPE OF EU AND NATO MEMBERSHIP
KNOCKING ON EUROPE'S DOOR

More than ten years after the fall of Ceaucescu, Romania is finally beginning to see the benefits of its far-reaching liberalization program launched in 1996. The country is now pressing on with economic and social reforms that are set to make it a rising star within the European Union (EU) and a welcomed partner of the NATO military alliance.
Despite Romania’s contributions to the United States and its allies in the Gulf War and to peacekeeping missions in Albania, Angola, Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia, the country did not make the cut during the first wave of NATO expansion in 1997. Its accomplishments did, however, shoot it to the top of the list for the next enlargement phase.

Integration into the European Union, a demanding and exclusive club that sets high economic, political and social criteria for candidate members, has been a tougher nut to crack. After failing the first EU entry exam in 1997, Romania’s government and opposition forces jointly agreed on a short and medium term economic strategy that wiped away years of recession and led to 2% economic growth in 2000, the same year Romania got the long-awaited invitation to begin accession negotiations with the EU. Economic growth for 2001 is expected to reach 5%. And the recent stabilization program the government hammered out with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is another clear sign that Romania's economic transition is on the right track.

“2001 is a crucial year for Romania. We have to prove that we are a stable partner for investors.”
Mihai Nicolae Tanasescu Minister of Finance

“Our goals for this year are to bring down the inflation rate and to continue to modify legislation in order to create a friendlier business environment for investors,” explains Romanian Finance Minister Mihai Nicolae Tanasescu.
Stable legislation, he notes, is the first step towards European integration. “We believe that 2001 is a crucial year for Romania. We have to prove that Romania is once again a stable partner for investors. The 2001 budget is a priority, the next goal is to create the proper business environment and our third goal is to go ahead with the privatization process in all sectors,” Mr. Tanasescu says.
“I believe that agreements with the World Bank and other financial institutions, like the IMF, which are focusing on banking restructuring, will also contribute to macroeconomic stability in the country,” he adds.
Mr. Tanasescu is well aware that Romania needs support from the international community, and especially the United States, if it is to attain its goals.

“I recently met with several American business people at the residence of former U.S. ambassador Jim Rosapepe. We discussed their concerns about doing business in Romania and the bureaucratic hurdles,” which is the main target of the legislative reforms, the finance minister points out.
“Attracting U.S. investors is very important to us. There are some present here, but we believe the potential for both parties is much greater for the future,” Mr. Tanasescu stresses.

“We have to develop our ties with Europe and the U.S. in order to support economic modernization.”
Ion Iliescu President

According to Romanian President Ion Iliescu, the current government is well equipped to bring about real changes that will improve the lives of all Romanians. “Despite the huge challenges we face, this government is blessed with a strong team filled with conviction and enthusiasm,” notes Mr. Iliescu.

“Through training and guidance we hope to create better political and social infrastructure within the country and especially a feeling of solidarity. We have to unite the people in order to build an efficient and competitive economy based on new technologies and we have to develop our ties with Europe and the United States in order to help support the economic modernization effort,” he states.

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