Situated at the juncture of Southeastern Europe with Eastern Europe while sharing land borders with Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria, Romania shipped US$76.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 26.8% increase since 2015 but a -3.5% drop from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Romanian leu depreciated by -5.8% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -7.5% from 2018 to 2019. Romania’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 70.9% of products exported from Romania were bought by importers in: Germany (22.5% of the global total), Italy (11.2%), France (6.9%), Hungary (4.8%), United Kingdom (3.8%), Poland (3.5%), Bulgaria (also 3.5%), Turkey (3.2%), Czech Republic (also 3.2%), Netherlands (3.1%), Spain (also 3.1%) and Austria (2.2%).
From a continental perspective, 84.2% of Romania’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 8.7% were sold to importers in Asia. Smaller percentages went to Africa (3.4%), North America (2.4%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.5%) then Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand (0.1%).
Given Romania’s population of 19.5 million people, its total $76.9 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $3,900 for every resident in the East European country.
Romania’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Romanian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Romania.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$13.6 billion (17.7% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $13.1 billion (17%)
- Machinery including computers: $8.7 billion (11.3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $3.1 billion (4.1%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $3 billion (3.9%)
- Cereals: $2.9 billion (3.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $2.9 billion (3.7%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $2.6 billion (3.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $2.3 billion (3%)
- Iron, steel: $2.2 billion (2.8%)
These top 10 product categories represent over two-thirds (70.6%) of total Romanian exports.
Cereals was the fastest grower among Romania’s top 10 export categories, up by 13.2% from 2018 to 2019 propelled by higher international sales of corn. The other top category to improve was optical, technical and medical apparatus via a 1.4% gain.
The leading decliner among Romania’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -10.2% drop year over year
At the more detailed Harmonized Tariff System code level, Romania’s most valuable exported products are automotive parts and accessories (9% of total) followed by cars (7.1%), insulated wire or cable (5.3%), refined petroleum oils (3.2%), electrical or optical circuit boards and panels (also 3.2%), seats and chairs (2.4%), new rubber tires (2.2%), corn (1.8%), wheat (1.7%) then mobile phones (1.6%).
The following types of Romanian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports reflect the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Vehicles: US$3.5 billion (Down by -16% since 2018)
- Cereals: $2.4 billion (Up by 12.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $1.6 billion (Down by -8.1%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $918.7 million (Down by -23.3%)
- Wood: $825.4 million (Down by -8.3%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $791.8 million (Down by -15.1%)
- Oil seeds: $762.5 million (Down by -16.9%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $653.4 million (Up by 76%)
- Ships, boats: $448.1 million (Down by -28.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $364.9 million (Down by -36.1%)
Romania has highly positive net exports in the international trade of vehicles, notably automobile parts or accessories, cars, bicycles and motorcycles. In turn, these cashflows indicate Romania’s strong competitive advantages under the vehicles product category.
Romania incurred an overall -$19.7 billion trade deficit during 2019, up 7.9% from the -$18.2 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Romania that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Romania’s goods trail Romanian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$4.2 billion (Up by 8.8% since 2018)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$3.1 billion (Down by -8.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$2.9 billion (Up by 9.4%)
- Machinery including computers: -$2.9 billion (Down by -17.3%)
- Other chemical goods: -$1.2 billion (Up by 14.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$993.7 million (Down by -4.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$967.5 million (Down by -8.6%)
- Meat: -$783.2 million (Up by 19.2%)
- Paper, paper items: -$770.7 million (Up by 1.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$735.4 million (Down by -1.1%)
Romania has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude oil, petroleum gas, coke or semi-coke and coal under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Romanian Export Companies
Not one Romanian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia also lists Romanian companies engaged in international trade. Selected examples are shown below.
- Antibiotice Iași (pharmaceuticals)
- Arctic S.A. (household appliances)
- Automobile Dacia (cars)
- Daewoo-Mangalia Heavy Industries DMHI (ships)
- European Drinks & Foods (food, beverages)
- Farmec (cosmetics, personal hygiene)
- Jolidon (lingerie, swimsuits)
- Roman (trucks, buses)
- Romstal (sanitary wear)
- Tehnoton (home electronics, machinery)
In macroeconomic terms, Romania’s total exported goods represent 14.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($546.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 14.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 15.4% for 2018. This suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Romania’s total economic performance albeit based on short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Romania’s average unemployment rate was 4.3% for 2019 up from 4.187% one year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Romania’s capital city is Bucharest.
See also Romania’s Top Trading Partners, Moldova’s Top 10 Exports and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Europe: Romania. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 26, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 26, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 26, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, Romania. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Romania. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 26, 2020