Yemeni-Romania Talks Promise Growth [Archives:1999/13/Law & Diplomacy]

March 29 1999

Mr. Sorin Potanc, State Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Romania, has just concluded a three-day visit to Yemen. Potanc, 45, headed his country’s dies in the joint ministerial committee based on the trade agreements signed in 1992.
On the occasion, Mohammed Bin Sallam of Yemen Times filed the following interview:
Q: How did the joint ministerial talks go?
A: We had meetings with different dignitaries from various institutions. We started with the Ministry of Trade where both parties shared recent development in our countries. We then discussed ways of improving bilateral cooperation. Specific issues such as attracting joint investments and the best way to increase the volume of trade between our two countries.
We also had a meeting with the chamber of commerce, which, in my opinion, is the most important factor for improving and developing trade relations.
Q: What are the activities Romania is engaged in, in Yemen?
A: In the past, we had many projects in your country. Some of them are continuing. One of our companies is about to finish a project for extending electric lines contracted by the Ministry of Energy and Water. There others work in Aden in oil.
We in Romania really want to re-discover your country.
At the same time, we are inviting your businessmen and officials to re-discover Romania because many changes are happening.
We studied geological studies done here. So we are trying to involve ourselves together with your people to develop new projects in building and setting up small factories in different industrial areas.
Q: What are the issues that could hinder future cooperation between the two countries?
A: It depends very much on how involved politically and institutionally the business climate is. It also depends on defining and refining the judicial framework.
Besides, we need to sign an agreement to protect investment in both countries as well as to avoid double taxation, preventing fiscal evasion, and other measures necessary for creating the an economic environment helpful for business.
On the other hand, I think we both have to work together to attract investment and funds, and to engage in joint ventures both between our two countries, and between the private and government sectors.
Q: What is the volume of trade between our two countries?
A: Unfortunately, it is very low. Last year, the trade exchange was only US$ 1.6, while in 1992, or 1994 or even 1995, the value of trade was between forty to fifty million US dollars. Therefore, there is definitely a potential for both countries to increase trade to more than 100 million.
Q: What are the goods or commodities Yemen imports from Romania?
A: It is a variety of things, starting with mechanical, electronic and electric equipment to fast consumer goods. It depends on the company which is doing the import.
You may be surprised to learn that some of the Romanian products arrive in Yemen through third parties. I mean the importer is in another country, though the final destination is Yemen.
Q: Yemen has many agreements of the type being concluded with you. But they are not worth the paper on which they are signed. Are you sure signing the agreement is enough?
A: First of all, my job now is to finalize the talks with the Ministry of Trade and Supply and reach an agreement.
Second, we will start to take measures to implement them.
We have a joint committee established to promote bilateral trade. This comes after seven years after the first set of agreements were signed (in 1992). I see what you mean about implementation.
But what can explain this is that both countries were restructuring their economy. The transitional period to a full market economy is almost done.
I am confident that there is mutual benefit in stronger ties.