18 January 2007 | Paul Snell
The accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU may have significant advantages for buyers looking for low-cost country sourcing locations.
Yet they have been warned that information about the countries' productivity, capacity and infrastructure is still relatively unknown.
According to Robin Jackson, chairman of procurement consultancy ADR International, there are two major benefits to the countries' inclusion in the EU.
"The initial advantage is access to cheap labour as each country will have an area where they are particularly excellent," he said.
Traditionally strong Bulgarian and Romanian exports include textiles, footwear and machinery.
"The second plus point is they are now part of the EU, so EU rules apply," Jackson added. "There are no tariffs at all. Goods produced there have to adhere to quality standards and there is a level of political stability."
But he advised that purchasers might have to wait before setting up in those countries: "You have to identify the particular skill sets and consider ethical aspects of supply. Sourcing from these countries is not yet 100 per cent guaranteed."
Although the countries now create a land link to Greece, Jackson said infrastructure was still "relatively underdeveloped".
He added: "The EU has an important role to play in structural development."