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Reforms bear fruit as populism fades

In Bucharest, the government of former communists has made remarkable strides in pushing through economic reforms including privatization of Banca Agricola and ailing steel company Sidex. It has even made some progress on banking regulation. If sustained, this should help the country catch up with neighbours in attracting foreign direct investment and bring it closer to eventual EU accession.

Bucharest: a government committed to
liberalization may help growth to take off

Eugen Radulescu's favourite joke is an old one. "How many economists does it take to change a light-bulb?" he asks. "None. If the light-bulb needs changing, market forces will see to it."

Radulescu is president of Romania's recently privatized Banca Agricola and he believes that the market will always win in the end. This is one of the reasons for his optimism that Romania will reform successfully and eventually join the European Union. He admits though: "I was always optimistic about Romania's future, but sometimes that optimism was not totally justified."

His optimism seems much more realistic now that the economy has finally begun to grow again - although GDP is still only 75% of what it was in 1989. Austrian bank RZB says that Romania's economy grew by about 4.2%

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