Romanian president Traian Basescu has taken part in the opening session of the Romanian-Chinese Forum in Beijing. From the very beginning, Basescu encouraged the Chinese businessmen to invest in Romania, showing his dissatisfaction with the commercial deficits in his country's economic relations with Asia.

The Romanian head of state presented Romania as a very attractive market, with a steady economic growth recorded in the last six years between 4.1-8.4 per cent, a solid banking system and a thriving private sector. Romania is also an opportunity for China to invest in a soon-to-be EU member state that has trade agreements with the USA and Canada.

The unpleasant aspects, bureaucracy and visa regime, are to be simplified in agreement with EU legislation.

The bilateral commercial trade reached 1.9 bln Euros, with Romanian imports from China amounting to 1.5 bln Euros, while exports to China barely reach 400 mln Euro. Romania signed on Tuesday a customs agreement that allows the access of Chinese goods on Romanian market.

Officially, there are 4,000 Chinese citizens in Romania, out of which 3,874 with temporary permit and 251 with residence permit. Only 375 have an official work permit. Currently, there are 8000 companies founded by Chinese citizens in Romania, which is 2 companies/capita.

Chinese citizens face many problems in Romania - the most thorny is the very restrictive visa regime, followed by the language issue. The Chinese driving license is not recognised in the country and due to language difficulties they cannot get another one.

The prolongation of visa is almost always a problem, and the legislation entails that within 15 days after the expiring date the citizen must leave the country, not enough time for closing down all businesses. Hence the looming of an underground business that involves high commissions for the Chinese not being able to speak the language or without official documents.

Basescu’s invitation comes a little bit late, after a massive withdrawal of Chinese investments on the Romanian market.