News

Daily Newsletter - 16 September 2022

Summary

Macroeconomic (4)
Financial (4)
Investment (3)
Legislative (4)
European News (1)
Social (2)
Macroeconomic 
EU recorded a EUR 42.3 billion deficit in trade in goods with the rest of the world in July
The European Union recorded a EUR 42.3 billion deficit in trade in goods with the rest of the world in July, compared with a surplus of EUR 15.6 billion in the same period of 2021, mainly due to higher energy imports, according to data published by the European Union’s Statistical Office (Eurostat) on Thursday, 15 September. Extra-EU exports of goods thus stood at EUR 211.6 billion, up by 12.8% compared with July 2021, while EU imports from the rest of the world grew by 47.6%, to EUR 253.8 billion.
8 out of 10 Romanian employees are taking measures to optimize expenses in the coming period
Most Romanian employees (80%) have started taking measures to protect their budget in anticipation of the incoming winter’s costs, according to the results of a survey published by BestJobs recruitment platform and conducted during the period 27 August - 11 September 2022. A quarter of respondents thus said they had started saving money to cover expenses in the coming period more easily, 13% said they were investing to diversify their sources of income, and 10% planned to take on additional part-time or project-based work to increase their income, the survey indicates.
World Bank has calculated the performance and potential of Romanian cities
The ranking of cities in terms of attractiveness index indicates that Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Iași, Timișoara, Craiova, Constanța, Galați, Brașov, Oradea and Ploiești continue to be the most attractive cities, according to a World Bank report. In most cases, a positive correlation can be noticed between the attractiveness index and the amount of foreign capital attracted by a particular city (for example, Brașov ranks 8th in terms of both attractiveness index and attracted foreign capital), the document indicates. Proximity to the western border offers clear advantages, as the western area is generally preferred by investors due to its location close to western European markets. Geographical location is clearly an attractive factor, especially for manufacturing centers.
Global debt fell by USD 5.5 trillion in Q2 of 2022, to USD 300.1 trillion
Global debt fell by USD 5.5 trillion in Q2 of 2022, to USD 300.1 trillion. This is the first decline after 14 consecutive quarterly increases. Emerging markets contributed USD 0.6 trillion and advanced economies USD 4.9 trillion to the USD 5.5 trillion decline, amid the sharp depreciation of G10 currencies against the US dollar. The global debt burden, expressed as a share of global Gross Domestic Product, grew by 1% quarter-on-quarter, to 349.1%, according to the latest Global Debt Monitor (GDM) report published by the Institute of International Finance (IIF).
Financial 
EFSE investment fund extends the EUR 8 million credit line granted to Libra Internet Bank
The European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) investment fund has extended the EUR 8 million credit line granted to Libra Internet Bank. The funds will be used to support the bank’s capitalization and ensure funding for SMEs. Libra wants to allocate 40% of the funds to businesses in the sustainable agriculture sector and in particular to those owned by women entrepreneurs. EFSE was established in 2005 and supports economic development in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
BCR is implementing contactless cash withdrawal at its ATMs and multifunctional ATM machines
Banca Comercială Română has started implementing the contactless cash withdrawal functionality at its ATMs and multifunctional ATM machines. The service will be available for cards issued both by BCR and by other banking institutions. Clients will thus be able to perform transactions at BCR’s ATMs and multifunctional ATM machines using bank cards, but also smartphones, smartwatches, smart bracelets or other smart devices equipped with the NFC technology.
ING Bank reported a RON 535 million net profit for H1 of 2022
ING Bank, the fourth biggest bank on the local market asset-wise, has reported a RON 535 million net profit for H1 of 2022, up by 39% year-on-year. The bank’s revenues grew by 20%, to RON 1.33 billion, given that lending was also up 20%, to a balance of over RON 36.5 billion. The bank’s strategy also continues to adapt to customers’ need for simple and transparent services that are easy to access anywhere and anytime, according to ING Bank CEO Mihaela Bîtu.
Raiffeisen Bank launches instant payments service based on Allevo FinTP-Instant solution
Raiffeisen Bank has joined Transfond’s Instant Payments service in September 2022, according to a press release. To achieve this integration, Raiffeisen Bank chose the Instant Payments service connection solution provided by Allevo. According to the cited source, the Instant Payments service ensures the transfer of money between banks in less than 10 seconds, the maximum accepted value of a payment being RON 50,000. Such a payment can be made at any time (24/7/365) between clients of banks participating in the Instant Payments service.
Investment 
Theodor Ichim, owner of Unigrains Trading, is to invest in an irrigation project
Theodor Ichim, owner of Unigrains Trading, which grows cereals on over 2,000 hectares in Constanţa, is to invest in an irrigation project to water a quarter of the aforementioned area, according to a statement made by the entrepreneur during the conference Irrigable Romania, a project implemented by ZF in partnership with Banca Transilvania. Mr. Ichim did not provide any numbers regarding the value of the investment, as the project is still ongoing.
Stay Fit Gym continues to expand at national level
Stay Fit Gym, the second largest chain of fitness gyms in Romania in terms of number of open centers, controlled by Morphosis Capital investment fund, has announced the integral acquisition of two fitness centers in Sibiu and Galaţi. Moreover, Stay Fit Gym will open a second fitness center in Sibiu, in Promenada Mall, in October. The two centers will have a total area of about 1,500 square meters and the investments made by Stay Fit Gym in Sibiu for the renovation of the acquired fitness center and the opening of the new center amount to approximately RON 5 million.
Libris will invest EUR 300,000 in photovoltaic panels
Libris owns, in Braşov, the largest book warehouse in Romania dedicated to an online bookstore, with an area of 5,000 square meters and a storage capacity of over 1 million books, according to a press release. The cited source indicates that the company continues to invest in the development of technologies and announces the transformation of the storage unit into a "green warehouse", by installing 835 photovoltaic panels on an area of 4,000 square meters, estimating an annual production of 330,000 kWh. As a result, more than 95% of the annual consumption will be covered by its own energy production system.
Legislative 
AUR has submitted a draft law banning insect consumption
On Wednesday, 14 September, the Alliance for Romanians’ Unity (AUR) submitted a draft law in Parliament banning the use of insects in food production for the population. The draft law submitted to the Standing Bureau of the Senate had been initiated by MPs George Simion, Lilian Scripnic and Sorin Muncaciu and by Senator Claudiu Târziu. About 2,000 species of insects are currently part of the daily diet of around two billion people around the world.
USR submitted anti-crisis laws to Parliament to support the Romanian population and industry
On Thursday, 15 September, Save Romania Union (USR) MPs Cristina Prună and Claudiu Năsui submitted two draft laws aimed at supporting the Romanian population and industry, amid the failure of the capping scheme and the energy crisis at European level, and the explosion of prices of goods and services on the market. The first draft law contains a set of solutions to reduce energy and gas bills, including the reduction of VAT on energy and gas from 19% to 5%, the elimination of excise duty, green certificates and the cogeneration contribution from the bill and the provision of vouchers to every household. The second draft law targets the gradual reduction of labor taxation to zero taxes. Given the accelerated increase in prices of goods and services purchased by the population, reducing taxation is the only real measure to protect low-wage workers from the current crisis.
Council of Europe asks Romania to amend justice laws in line with Venice Commission opinion
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s monitoring report on Romania emphasizes progress made by the country in key areas, but expresses concerns about non-compliance with Venice Commission’s opinions on justice reform and the fight against corruption. The report also calls for the de-classification of parties’ major contracts with the media and formally asks the Venice Commission to issue an opinion on the three draft justice laws initiated by Minister Cătălin Predoiu.
Ministry of Education proposes new amendments to Education Law
The Ministry of Education has put up for public consultation several amendments to the Education Law, targeting the provision of lump sums to all pupils who study in other localities than the ones they reside in. The amendments also stipulate the setting up of play centers in localities where there are not enough places in nurseries or kindergartens and the expansion of dual education. Education Minister Sorin Cîmpeanu announced on Thursday, 15 September 2022, that the Ministry of Education had initiated the draft Emergency Ordinance amending and completing the National Education Law 1/2011.
European News 
Romania wants to cap the price of all natural gas sources
Romania wants a European Union-wide cap for all natural gas prices, to avoid another market imbalance, Energy Minister Virgil Popescu said. Asked why Romania opposed the capping of the price of natural gas imported from Russia, the minister said Romania favored a wider cap for all sources, not only for Russian gas. Virgil Popescu said the EU would come up with a system to protect and reform the European natural gas market, and the prices would fall from the current high, speculation-fuelled levels.
Social 
PSD believes European minimum wage can be applied in Romania from 1 January 2023
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) will call on the ruling coalition to adopt the provisions of the European Directive recently adopted by the European Parliament regarding adequate minimum wages in the European Union in 2022, so that they should apply starting from 1 January 2023. The introduction in Romania of the mechanism recommended in the Directive, through which the minimum wage is set at 50% of the gross average wage in economy, would lead to an increase in the gross minimum income to nearly RON 3,000 as of 1 January 2023, PSD indicated in a press release.
Romanians and Bulgarians are most at risk of poverty and social exclusion in EU
The highest share of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion in the European Union was recorded in Romania (34%), followed by Bulgaria (32%), Greece and Spain (both 28%) in 2021, according to data presented by the European Union’s Statistical Office (Eurostat). At the other end of the classification, the lowest proportion of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion in 2021 was reported in the Czech Republic (11%), followed by Slovenia (13%) and Finland (14%).