> Press release: Continued liberalization should improve efficiency and competitiveness
1. This third Trade Policy Review of Romania has allowed us to improve our understanding of the developments in its trade and related policies since its previous Review in 1999, and of the challenges that lie ahead. Our dialogue has been thorough and comprehensive, stimulated by the participation of the Minister delegate for Trade, Mr. Iuliu Winkler, and his delegation. Our thanks are also due to our discussant, Ambassador Manzoor Ahmad, for his insightful contribution to our discussions, and to the Members who have contributed to the success of this review.
2. Members welcomed Romania's positive overall economic performance during the last few years, with high GDP growth, and falling unemployment, inflation and fiscal deficit. They noticed that the ongoing reforms are contributing to the establishment of a competitive market economy, and encouraged Romania to continue its structural reforms, so as to address governance problems and improve its business environment. The reforms, together with increased investment in infrastructure and in human capital, would help to further stabilize the economy, with a particular attention to the external current account.
3. Members noted Romania's commitment to the multilateral trading system. Some Members indicated that integration into the EC, planned for 2007, constitutes Romania's paramount objective; its trade is increasingly made under bilateral and regional agreements and its trade regime is progressively aligned on the EC's. Some Members remarked that Romania's trade would gain from further tariff reforms that should, inter alia, reduce the margins between applied and bound MFN rates, mainly on agricultural products. They praised Romania's wide-ranging 2004-25 strategy to restructure agriculture, but called attention to the insulation of the sector from competition as a result of its limited coverage by Romania's preferential trade agreements.
4. Members also commended Romania for the steps being taken to address inefficiencies in mining, energy, and manufacturing, including the enactment of new laws and privatization to reduce State involvement in the economy. Members noted that further liberalization of services may improve the efficiency of Romania's economy and the competitiveness of its exports, especially by reducing costs related to financial services, telecommunications, and transport.
5. Members sought clarification on other issues, notably: customs procedures; internal taxation; import and export licensing; contingency trade remedies; standards and SPS measures; export and investment incentives; public procurement; and protection of intellectual property rights.
6. Members expressed their appreciation for the responses to their questions as provided by the Romanian delegation.
7. In conclusion, Members value Romania's efforts to improve its economic environment. I encourage Romania to continue improving its multilateral commitments, both on goods and services, with a view to providing its trade regime with greater predictability and credibility. Trading partners can help by ensuring that their markets are fully open to Romania's exports.