Economic and Political Overview

flag Romania Romania: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Due to the 2009 financial crisis, Romania endured an economic slowdown, especially in the automobile sector, which is subject to foreign demand. Financial difficulties pushed the country to seek financial help from the IMF, the European Commission and the World Bank. More recently, the Romanian economy was among the fastest-growing in the EU; nevertheless, the global crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic caused a drop in GDP in 2020, from which the country recovered fast in 2021. In 2022, the country continued on its growth path, with an estimated GDP increase of 4.5% thanks to strong gross fixed capital formation and private consumption (EU Commission). For 2023, the negative effect of still high inflation, tight financing conditions and weaker performance of partner economies are all set to lower Romania’s real GDP growth to 2.5% (3.1% according to the IMF), with investment expected to remain strong, supported by the Recovery and Resilience Facility and other EU Funds. As internal and external conditions improve, the economy is expected to grow by 3% in 2024.

Concerning public finances, the country experienced an expansionary trend in recent years, with a government deficit averaging above 4%, largely driven by pension increases. This trend was reinforced by the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and of the measures taken to mitigate the impact of high energy prices, resulting in an estimated budget deficit of 5.8% of GDP in 2022. As the energy support schemes (including caps on electricity and gas to households and to a lesser extent firms) will be financed by windfall taxes, the impact on the budget should be limited in 2023, with the IMF projecting the deficit at 4.7% of GDP. At 49.7% in 2022, the debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to follow an upward trend over the forecast horizon, at 51.7% this year and 51.9% in 2024 (IMF). The 12-month average inflation stood at 12% in 2022 (EU Commission) as a consequence of high energy and food prices and the spill-over effect on other components. HICP inflation is projected at 9.7% for 2023 before slowing down to 5.5% in 2024 due to the extension of the energy price cap, lower commodity prices and base effects kicking in.

An ageing population, the emigration of skilled labour, significant tax evasion, insufficient health care, and an aggressive loosening of the fiscal package may compromise Romania’s long-term growth and economic stability and are the economy's top vulnerabilities. Despite a relatively low level of unemployment (at 5.5% in 2022), Romania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, with 34.4% of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion (the highest ratio in the EU - data by Eurostat). The IMF estimated the country’s GDP per capita (PPP) at USD 38,097 in 2022, still 29.4% below the EU average.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 301.27350.41382.93408.35436.36
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 4.72.23.83.83.8
GDP per Capita (USD) 15,82118,41320,21421,68423,316
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -5.9-5.9-5.9-5.8-5.6
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 50.551.052.755.257.1
Inflation Rate (%) n/a10.75.83.63.6
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 5.65.65.45.35.2
Current Account (billions USD) -28.13-25.55-27.24-28.56-28.77
Current Account (in % of GDP) -9.3-7.3-7.1-7.0-6.6

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Romania has a labour force of 8.38 million people out of its 19.1 million population, though this number has been decreasing over the last decade due to the massive migration of Romanian workers to Western European countries. Agriculture represents around 4.3% of Romania's GDP and employs 21% of the country's active population (World Bank, latest data available). The main resources and agricultural production in Romania are cereals, sugar beets and potatoes. However, production remains very low in comparison with the country's potential capacity (more than one-third of the land is arable). About 25% of the country is covered by forests (especially around Transylvania), and the logging industry is developing very fast. Romania has a limited energy dependence thanks to coal, oil, gas and uranium reserves. According to data from Eurostat, Romania is0 the seventh-biggest agricultural producer in the European Union. The turnover of Romanian agricultural companies was estimated at RON 58 billion in 2022, a record level due to inflationary pressures and subsidies granted by the authorities, which counterbalanced a marked decrease in crop production (KeysFin).

The industrial sector contributes 27.8% of the country's GDP and employs 30% of the active population. Thanks to inexpensive labour, its industry is diversified and competitive. Historically, manufacturing companies and the industrial sector represent the backbone of Romania's economy. For this reason, foreign direct investors are involved in heavy industry (metallurgy, steel), the manufacturing of vehicle parts, building and construction, petroleum refining and textiles. According to figures from the World Bank, the manufacturing sector alone contributes 16% of GDP. Data from the national statistical office show that Romania's industrial production fell by an unadjusted 1.8% year-on-year in 2022 due to drops in electricity, thermal energy, gas, steam and air conditioning production and supply (-9.4%), mining industry (-2.8%) and processing industry (-0.4%).

Romania's economy is mainly centred on the services sector, which represents 58.2% of GDP and employs around 49% of the nation's workforce. Tourism, in particular, has been booming in recent years, reaching an all-time high of 13.26 million in 2019 (between domestic and foreign tourism). The sector showed positive signs of recovery in the first ten months of 2022 when the total number of tourists reached 9.6 million (of which 13.7% were foreigners – data INSEE). The technology sector has also seen consistent growth in recent years, due to the emergence of a high-qualified workforce whose cost is lower than the European average. Romania's ITC sector accounts for around 6.2% of GDP (Romanian Software Industry Association). The Romanian banking sector comprises 34 credit institutions: three banks with full or majority Romanian state-owned capital, four credit institutions with majority domestic, private capital, 19 banks with majority foreign capital and eight branches of foreign banks. About 68.2% of the Romanian banking sector’s assets are held by institutions with foreign capital (European Banking Federation).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 18.6 30.4 51.0
Value Added (in % of GDP) 4.5 28.8 57.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) -11.6 0.5 7.7

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Romanian New Leu (RON) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 0.110.120.120.120.11

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
69,5/100
World Rank:
43
Regional Rank:
26

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 

Business environment ranking

Definition:

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

Score:
6.61/10
World Rank:
37/82

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024

 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

Romania is open to foreign trade, which represents 87% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). The country mainly exports machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, sound and image recorders and reproducers (26.3%); vehicles and associated transport equipment (15.5%); base metals and articles of base metals (10.1%); and mineral products (7.6%). Imports are led by machinery (24.2%); mineral products (12.6%); chemical products (11%); and base metals (10.9% - data INSEE 2022).

The European Union is the main trading partner, accounting for 72.6% of total exports and 70.7% of imports in the first eleven months of 2022. The leading countries for exports were Germany (20%), Italy (10.1%), Hungary (7.3%), and France (6%). Imports follow a similar path, with Germany (17.8%) being the main destination for Romania’s exports, followed by Italy (8.2%), Bulgaria (6.8%), Hungary (6.5%), Poland and China (5.9% each – data INSEE).

Romania’s foreign trade figures for 2021 published by WTO show that merchandise exports amounted to USD 87.3 billion (+23.5% year-on-year), while imports increased at a faster pace (+26.1%), to USD 116.2 billion. On the other hand, the country is a net exporter of commercial services, with exports totalling USD 33 billion against USD 21.7 billion in imports (+22% and +33.3%, respectively). Overall, Romania has a structurally negative trade balance, which has been widening in recent years: for 2021, it stood at around 5.7% of the country’s GDP (from 4.3% one year earlier - World Bank). According to figures from the national statistical office INSEE, in the first eleven months of 2022 exports of goods totalled EUR 85.2 billion (+25% y-o-y) against EUR 116.2 billion in imports (+29.9 y-o-y).

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 97,74796,54492,132116,203132,491
Exports of Goods (million USD) 79,66076,87170,71887,38896,707
Imports of Services (million USD) 18,22020,61416,32421,85125,548
Exports of Services (million USD) 28,09130,30227,09232,99838,918
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.68.6-5.214.99.2
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 5.35.4-9.512.68.6
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 44.944.341.246.349.4
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 41.540.236.940.642.5
Trade Balance (million USD) -18,019-19,960-21,676-27,291-33,923
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -8,157-10,282-10,875-16,177-20,618
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 86.584.578.187.092.0

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
Germany 19.8%
Italy 10.1%
Hungary 7.3%
France 6.0%
Bulgaria 3.9%
See More Countries 52.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
Germany 17.8%
Italy 8.2%
Bulgaria 7.1%
Hungary 6.5%
Poland 5.9%
See More Countries 54.5%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

Main Products

96.8 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 6.9%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 6.4%
Insulated "incl. enamelled or anodised" wire,...Insulated "incl. enamelled or anodised" wire, cable "incl. coaxial cable" and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 4.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 3.8%
Boards, panels, consoles, desks, cabinets and...Boards, panels, consoles, desks, cabinets and other bases, equipped with two or more apparatus of heading 8535 or 8536, for electric control or the distribution of electricity, incl. those incorporating instruments or apparatus of chapter 90, and numerical control apparatus (excl. switching apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy) 3.3%
See More Products 75.3%
132.7 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 4.4%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 3.5%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.7%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.7%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.6%
See More Products 84.0%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 
 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Romanian Ministry Economy, Trade and Tourism
Statistical Office
National Institute of Romanian Statistics
Central Bank
National Bank of Romania
Stock Exchange
Bucharest Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Google
Romanian Voice
Economic Portals
Portal Info

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Klaus IOHANNIS (since 21 December 2014 ; re-elected in the 2019 presidential election)
Prime Minister: Nicolae CIUCA (since 25 November 2021)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: November 2024
Chamber of Deputies and Senate: 2024
Main Political Parties
The main political parties in the country are:

- National Liberal Party (PNL): centre-right, conservative, pro-European, heads current governmental alliance
- Social Democratic Party (PSD): centre-left
- Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR): supports minority Hungarian interests, liberal conservatism
- Alliance for the Unity of Romanians (AUR): right-wing, conservative, nationalist
- Save Romania Union (USR): syncretic, liberal
- People's Movement Party (PMP): centre right
Type of State
Semi-presidential republic.
Executive Power
The President is the Head of State and is elected by universal suffrage for a term of five years renewable once. The President is also the Commander in Chief of the army and is responsible for protecting the Constitution. Under the Romanian Constitution, the President acts as a mediator between the various centres of power in the country. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President (and is usually the leader of the majority party) for a term of four years. The Prime Minister is the Head of Government and holds executive power, including law enforcement and management of the affairs of the country. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Romania is bicameral. The Parliament consists of: the Senate (the upper house) having 136 seats and the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house) having 330 seats. The members of both houses are elected by direct, popular vote on a proportional representation basis to serve four-year terms. The executive branch of the Government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the Parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. The Prime Minister does not have the power to dissolve the Parliament directly, but the President can do so after consultation with the political parties represented in the two houses. The people of Romania have considerable political rights.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
48/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
2/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
The summary of the EU’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the website of the European Council.
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) in Romania, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: December 2023