The economic and financial crisis that began in 2008 has not decelerated globalization, regardless of some temptations towards protectionism. Globalization has persevered, international trade is recovering, and the main lesson for those who want to thrive in the next decade is that you have to go where the opportunities are. This means either to work in a developing country where there are plenty opportunities, or to overcome the hardships of the local market by offering services in developing countries, as is the case of Romanian companies.
Firstly, increasingly more professionals of different nationalities are key actors in globalization: today people are in Bucharest, tomorrow in London, and in a week from now in Kuala Lumpur, Dubai or Mexico City. There are Romanians in legislative hubs such as Brussels and Washington, and financial hubs like Frankfurt, New York, London and Singapore. The labour market is becoming more mobile, more active and is looking for global opportunities. The motivation is simple: the crisis did not hit the entire world simultaneously. Even in the West, although it still appears to be crisis, things are mixed: some states experience economic growth according to Eurostat data, even though this growth is not always reflected in peoples’ pockets, other states are struggling. Romanian economy theoretically has the chance to “take-off”, partly due to opportunities to reactivate the Romanian commercial networks, which existed decades ago, with many developing countries in Africa, Middle East, Latin America, and beyond.
Secondly, some of the Romanians already at work in the West are affected in turn by the economic crisis within the states in question. This is interesting, but it does not affect Romanians on a large scale, because the majority actually has been hired precisely because they were very competitive in quality and price.
Although revenues have decreased, reflected in lower amounts sent to the country in the past 2-3 years, compared to the period of prosperity (2004-2008), many of these professionals remain important players in the economy of the countries where they live, contributing to their competitiveness. Of course, Romania's interest is to attract more skilled labour forces back into the country, but you cannot hold onto people who want to work abroad, nor can you ask those settled abroad with their families to leave everything behind for the sake of patriotism. What can be done, however, is develop Romanian involvement in promoting entrepreneurship and community projects at home. This could be the first step to incentivise people to return or to develop better economic cooperation with their home country.
Thirdly, there are foreigners who are interested in and come to Romania. They are attracted by economic opportunities, but also by the beauty of the country. Nowadays, there are many categories of foreigners. A few years ago expats mainly came to lead branches of foreign companies, now the number of those interested in for example national agriculture and infrastructure projects has greatly increased. Looking forward it is unlikely, however, for foreign investors to replicate the African model in Romania (bringing Chinese workers). They will rather use local workforce, as is the case in other European countries (eg Chinese investment in the nuclear industry in the UK, investors are interested in the reactors at Cernavoda). Romanians and Romania have the opportunity to develop a strong strategic position, and the difficult years of transition will fly by, if you understand to exploit these opportunities. There are only gains in this game of globalization.
Dan LUCA / Brussels