Romania does not impose import quotas or tariffs. Import permits are required for the import of pharmaceuticals, chemicals and medical products. Health and safety standards are in force along with pollution standards for products which could harm the environment. Agricultural safety certificates are required for the importation of plants and vegetation.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Customs duties no longer exist for commercial trade with other EU countries. For other countries, customs duties are generally low, and Romania applies the European Union’s Common External Tariff.
The Combined Nomenclature of the European Community (EC) integrates the HS nomenclature and supplements it with its own subheadings with an eight digit code number and its own Legal Notes created for Community purposes.
Customs duties were removed upon Romania's accession to the EU. Joining the AEO status, Agreed Economic Operator, allows the unloading of merchandise at the destination to be considered then to be customs cleared. The official model for written declarations to customs is the Single Administrative Document (SAD). The SAD describes goods and their movement around the world and is essential for trade outside the EU, or of non-EU goods. Single Administrative Document is the documentary basis for customs declarations in the EU. The Summary Declaration is filed by: - the person who brought the goods into the customs territory of the Community or by any person who assumes responsibility for carriage of the goods following such entry; or - the person in whose name the person referred to above acted.
As part of the 'SAFE' standards set forth by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the 'Import Control System' (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Programme eCustoms, has been in effect since 1 January 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.
The Modernised Customs Code, which entered into force in 2008, simplifies procedures, by computerising and centralising transactions. Since 1 July 2009, all companies established outside of the EU are required to have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number if they wish to lodge a customs declaration or an Entry/Exit Summary declaration.
The purchasing power in Romania is one of the lowest in the EU (USD 12,757.5 - World Bank, 2020). Nonetheless, the Romanian consumer market has grown significantly in recent years and stood at EUR 135.5 billion at the end of 2019 (Eurostat). Purchases of food and non-alcoholic beverages account for 33.7% of total consumption expenditure, followed by housing and energy costs, which represent 16.4% of expenditure (Romanian National Institute of Statistics, 2020). The Romanian population is ageing, marked by declining birth rates and an increase in the share of older people. According to CIA World Factbook, among the 21.2 million Romanians, 14.12% of the population is 0-14 years old whereas 17.58% of the population is 65 years and over (2020 est.). As reported by Eurostat, in 2020, the median age of the population was 42.8 years old (slightly below the EU average). Furthermore, Romania's natural growth rate is negative (-0.38% - CIA World Factbook, 2021 est.). In 2019, the urbanisation rate was 54.08% (one of the lowest in the EU) (World Bank, latest data available).
Since the economic crisis, Romanian consumers have remained cautious and tend to adopt responsible and moderate behaviour. Consumers are not devoted to a single brand, but product availability plus an acceptable price/quality ratio are factors that influence the consumption of a certain brand. Consumers are ready to pay a price premium for branded, higher quality products. Recent trends in the urban retail market indicate a clear preference for fresh, branded, attractively packaged products. The concept of after-sales customer service is still developing, but Romanian consumers are increasingly sensitive to the quality of after-sales services in making their purchasing decisions.
While Romania has an Internet penetration rate lower than the EU average (86% as opposed to 91% - Eurostat, 2020), most Internet users are avid online shoppers. Out of the 15.49 million Internet users, in 2021, 72.7% purchased a product online (Global Web Index).
Distribution of goods and services in Romania is similar to other European countries. Wholesale and retail tiers, and support services such as packaging, warehousing and merchandising, are fully developed in Romania. Modern retail is an about EUR 11 billion market with more than 2,000 stores, dominated by ten international groups. The main modern retail food store formats are hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores, discount stores and cash & carry stores, which make up a EUR 8,8 billion market and 57% market share. The sector continued to expand in 2017, at the same rate (around 8,0% yearly) in as the last few years when 150 to 250 stores have been opened annually.
Romania’s range of retail outlets is likewise European and includes specialty shops, supermarkets, hypermarkets, cash and carry, department stores, gas station convenience stores, do-it yourself shops, kiosks, street vendors, open-air markets and wholesale centers. For several years the local market has been dominated by Carrefour and Cora on the hypermarket (or Big Box) segment, while Metro and Selgros have competed on the cash-and-carry market. The Government is considering legislation that would require large retailers in Romania (with an annual trunover exceeding €2 million/$2.2 million) to purchase at least 51% of total volume of meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits, honey, dairy products, and bakery products from local producers and to promote products of Romanian origin.
The distribution of goods and services in Romania is similar to that of other European countries. The market is made up of Romanian and European mass retailers and includes specialist shops, supermarkets, hypermarkets, cash shops, department stores, convenience stores, DIYers, kiosks, street vendors, open-air markets and wholesalers. Romania is one of the main target markets in Eastern Europe for retailers such as Metro, Carrefour and Selgros, whose local large format stores have had the strongest growth in sales. The leaders of the Romanian retail sector are Kaufland, Carrefour, Metro Cash & Carry, Auchan, Lidl and Penny Market. They all make more than EUR 1 billion in sales per year. There are more than 2,350 stores in Romania, the majority of which being convenience stores (989), followed by supermarkets (475) and discount stores (445) (USDA, latest data available). In 2020, the Lower House (Chamber of Deputies) passed a bill to make substantial changes to the "Supermarket Law", removing the 51% requirement (minimum percentage of meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, honey, dairy and bakery products that supermarkets had to buy from local producers).
In 2017, there were 14.3 million internet users, placing the penetration rate at 73.5%. Romania is well-wired, and the majority of hotels offer some form of Internet access, normally wi-fi. Many bars, cafes and restaurants offer free wi-fi for customers, though the strength and reliability of the signal can vary considerably. Romania ranks 8th in the ranking of least expensive countries for broadband, with an average cost of US$ 13.47 per month, according to Statista. Additionally, the country has some of the best internet speeds in the world, mainly due to a system of neighbourhood networks which allow that 16% of the internet connections in Romania have extremely high internet speeds of 100 Mbps. Romania consumes more Internet on average than any European country, with an average monthly traffic of 91 GB for fixed broadband lines. The country has set an ambitious target to achieve 100% Internet penetration by 2020. According to Statista, the smartphone penetration rate in Romania was estimated to be 47.58% in 2018. Social media is an important venue for web users in Romania. According to Gemius Audience, the five most popular social media websites were visited by about 80.5% of Internet users in 2017: Facebook (79.8% with 5,530,000 users), Pinterest (10.5% with 724,000), Instagram (9.5% with 661,000), Linkedin (9.3% with 644,000) and Twitter (8.4% with 582,000). As of September 2018, the most popular search engines in the country by market share were Google (98.2%), Yahoo! (0.86%) and Bing (0.7%). As for browsers, the most popular ones were Chrome (71.14%), Safari (9.16%), Firefox (7.83%), Samsung Internet (3.58%), Opera (3.2%) and IE (1.88%).
According to the European Ecommerce Report 2017, Romania has one of the biggest e-commerce industries in Southeastern Europe. E-commerce represents 1.2% of GDP. In 2017, Romanians purchased US$ 3.2 billion worth of products online, at least 40% more than the previous year, not including services, tickets, bookings, holidays, etc. On average, consumers made 8.4 online purchases in 2016, and there are more than 7,000 e-shops in the country, a number that is expected double by the end of 2018. There are currently 10.26 million e-commerce users in Romania, out of which 3% are cross-border shoppers. Furthermore, about 8 in 10 shoppers live in cities, and 44% of urban Internet users made at least one purchase a month. The biggest online stores in Romania are eMAG.ro, Altex, Domo and Elefant. As for how Romanians make online purchases, most prefer computers and laptops, but the number of people using their smartphones to shop is increasing. In 2017, 18% of people shopped online using a mobile device. Romania has one of the fastest e-commerce growth rates in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of the number of visits from mobile devices, with an average growth of 41%. According to data from GPeC, the 90% of online consumers in Romania prefer to pay cash-on-delivery. But when it comes to utilities payments, travel, event tickets and other online services, paying using cards is the preferred method (according to mobilPay and PaU processors, online card payments have increased from 8% in 2016 to 14% in 2017). Total online card payment was valued at US$ 1.4 billion in 2017. The average online shopper is between 25 and 35 years old. Regarding B2B e-commerce, IT, home appliances, the auto sector, deco, fashion and related agricultural products have the largest share in Romania, the last two areas recording accelerated growth. Electronics & media is currently the leading product category in Romania, accounting for US$ 788.1 million market share, followed by fashion, which generated US$ 538.3 million in sales. Romanians are primarily looking for free and fast delivery, discounts and free returns (even though the law leaves the cost of the return to the shopper). Some of the most popular e-commerce websites in the country include olx.ro, emag.ro, altex.ro, pcgarage.ro, Aliexpress, and Amazon.
Organizing Goods Transport
Main Useful Means of Transport
The rail network covers 11,385 km; the road network covers 198,817 km, of which 60,043 km are paved roads (including 228 km of expressway); and there are 1,731 km of navigable waterways (including 1,075 km on the Danube, 524km on secondary networks, and 136 km of canals).
In Romania, industry represents more than 40% of the GDP and less than 30% of employment. Main industrial sectors include equipment and electrical machinery, textiles and footwear, automobile assembly, construction materials, metallurgy and oil refining.
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