The use of electronic propulsion technologies (e-mobility), cooperation with universities for forming the new generations, school lighting with LED systems and the production of non-polluting biofuels from agricultural residues are the four initiatives that won the Romanian-German Economy Awards, the AHK Awards. The prizes were awarded, on September 1, at the Parliament House, within the Gala for celebrating 20 years since the establishment of the Romanian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK Romania).
The projects were initiated and developed by the companies: DAR Dräxlmaier Automotive, with ‘E-Mobility Transformation’, awarded in the category Business Excellence; Bosch Group Romania, with the ‘University Cooperation Program’, winner in the category Our employees – our success; E.ON Romania, with ‘Energy in Schools’, in the category Responsibility for the future and Clariant Products Ro, with ‘Producing advanced biofuels from agricultural residues’, in the category Innovation and new technologies.
68 applications were registered in the competition and the jury had the difficult mission of selecting the winners from a large number of very good quality projects. It is the first year when AHK Romania awards prizes that recognize and promote the efforts and results obtained by companies or their projects.
20 years of successful activity
The 20 years of successful activity were celebrated by AHK Romania members together with high-level guests from the economic and political scene of Romania and Germany.
In a message conveyed to AHK Romania on this occasion, the Federal Minister of Economy and Climate Protection, Robert Habeck, noted that in the last 20 years, bilateral economic relations, as well as German investments in Romania, have developed a lot, the economies of two countries being strongly connected. “Over 7,500 companies with German capital are active in Romania. They contribute to the economic development of the country and are very appreciated as employers. And for the German companies, Romania is a good investment site for innovation and technologies of the future. This is proven by the projects rewarded today, at the first edition of the Romanian-German economy awards,” said Habeck. He also mentioned the importance of bilateral cooperation to develop and implement EU’s energy strategy. “To this end, supporting pan-European cooperation in innovative technologies is a central element for technological sovereignty on our continent. And this becomes, during these times, more important by the day,” added the German official.
Robert Habeck also referred to the impact of the Republic of Moldova obtaining the status of a candidate country for the European Union, namely the opening of new and interesting economic perspectives. This was also facilitated by AHK Romania, by setting up the Centre of Competences for the Republic of Moldova, with a role in developing trilateral relationships between companies in the Republic of Moldova, Romania, and Germany.
For his part, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, emphasized in his message that the models of success of German companies are a good example that must be pursued and promoted. “The increase in foreign direct investments by over 20% in the first half of this year is an encouraging sign. We need public policies focused on performance, to be supported by the business community, to support Romania’s development in the line of the competitive advantages we have,” explained the head of state in his message presented by presidential adviser Cosmin Marinescu.
Given the international situation, marked by record inflation values, high energy prices, supply difficulties and market volatility, the President of Romania also referred to the punctual things that can be done in this context, such as the sustainable use of resources and adaptation of investment strategies. In conclusion, President Iohannis said: “The Romanian-German Chamber of Commerce has been an active partner, and your proposals (of the Romanian-German business environment) have contributed to the smooth running of the economic and the development of a robust and efficient business environment. I am convinced that this cooperation will continue, and I wish that you remain in the future the same reliable, dynamic, and involved partner in the future.”
Attending the event, the Prime Minister of Romania, Nicolae Ciuca, appreciated that AHK anniversary this year is under the sign of sustainability, an extremely relevant topic in the economic and geopolitical context. “Sustainable development means investments not only in the economy, but it also means investments in education, in research, in green projects, areas for which there is interest and actual involvement at government level,” he said, adding that most of investments under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) will go to such projects. The Prime Minister also pointed out that Germany is one of the largest investors on the Romanian market, with a share of over 19% in total exports of the country.
“For the Government of Romania, AHK Romania is a trustworthy partner […], it is not just an ambassador of German companies with activity in Romania, it is also a real ambassador of Romania, which helps German investors come and develop solid businesses in our country and for that I thank you,” said Nicolae Ciuca. The Prime Minister showed his confidence that the number of German companies will grow, and bilateral cooperation will expand, Romania having the potential of becoming a regional hub for hydrogen production, transport and storage or being able to be part of the future European projects in the field of microprocessors. A support for the business environment, including for the German investors, is Romania’s accession to the Schengen Space: “The recent message of support of Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirms that we are ready to take this new important step of integration into the European project, which offers our citizens the benefits of a developed single market, where the free movement of people, goods and services is a driving force of development,” stated Ciuca.
The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Romania, Dr Peer Gebauer, noted the important role played by AHK Romania in the success story of the economic relations between the two states: “Congratulations for the 20 years of extraordinary activity here in Romania, both to the benefit of Germans and of the Romanian economy,” the ambassador said in the opening of his speech. In addition to the German investments already existing in Romania, which have created over a quarter of millions of jobs, other large investments are to be implemented by German companies. This objective is also supported by the involvement of companies in vocational activities. “It can rightly be said that the German economy is a model partner in Romania,” said Dr Peer Gebauer. On the other hand, the support granted to Ukraine by Romania in the context of war at its borders has proven that Romania is a reliable partner.
“And this reliability is not appreciated only in an abstract way in Berlin or in other European capitals. The recent statement of support for Romania’s accession to the Schengen space coming from Chancellor Scholz is a clear proof in this respect and is also an expression of the conviction that during times of crisis we shouldn’t allow to be divided, but on the contrary, to close ranks,” the Ambassador of Germany to Bucharest said.
The 20th anniversary of AHK Romania was for Volker Treier, head of the Foreign Trade Department of the Union of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), a good opportunity to recall the atmosphere of the 2000s in Europe, when the general feeling that it was better together than apart dominated: “For the enlargement of the European Union, economy has always been an essential driver and connecting element. The establishment of German representative offices, delegations, and chambers of commerce abroad (AHKs) in the Central and Southern European region is closely linked to the relentless campaign to eliminate trade barriers and intensify economic integration.” He also made a retrospective of AHK Romania’s successes: from trade exchanges worth EUR 4.5 billion in 2002, the year of establishment, to EUR 17.9 billion, after the first 10 years of activity, which means a four-fold increase. And in 2021 the trade exchange volume had increased by almost eight times compared to 2002.
Among the achievements of AHK Romania’s 20 years of activity is the fact that Germany is now Romania’s main economic partner, with trade exchanges worth EUR 35 billion and investments of EUR 11 billion, as mentioned by the President of AHK Romania, Andreas Lier. He mentioned the main areas on which AHK’s activity focuses vocational training, sustainability, i.e., energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste management, development of cities, Court of Arbitration, as alternative to the usual court proceedings, innovation. In the complicated global economic context, Andreas Lier looks optimistically towards the future, taking as assets people, performing companies, but also the energy vector (both green and fossil): “Let’s play the cards together, for a strong Romania in a strong and progressive Europe,” he urged.
“We are a large and strong community, with common values and principles in our life and profession, as evidenced by the fact that today we are celebrating 20 years of presence in Romania,” said the CEO of AHK Romania, Sebastian Metz, at the opening of the celebration. He added that in the 20 years AHK Romania has built “with and for the business community” a space in which the bilateral economic relations have developed in an extremely dynamic manner. The central point around which AHK activities have been focused and continue to focus is sustainability. “This is the only way for business relationships to grow in a healthy manner and for a long term. Therefore we have chosen sustainability as topic for the anniversary year 2022 and we organize numerous events on this topic this year,” Metz mentioned.