Situated at the juncture of Southeastern Europe with Eastern Europe while sharing land borders with Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria, Romania shipped US$79.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 14% increase since 2014 and a 12.8% gain from 2017 to 2018.
From a continental perspective, $67.2 billion or 84.4% of Romanian exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries. Another 8.5% was sold to Asian countries. Romania shipped smaller percentages to importers in Africa (3.4%), North America (2.4%), Latin America (0.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.6%), and Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia, Marshall Islands and New Zealand.
Given Romania’s population of 21.5 million people, its total $79.7 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $3,700 for every resident in the East European country.
In macroeconomic terms, Romania’s total exported goods represent 15.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($516.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 15.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 19.9% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Romania’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Romania also provided $26.6 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 5.2% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Romania’s unemployment rate was 4% at May 2019 down from 4.3% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Romania’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Romanian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Romania.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$14 billion (17.6% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $13.9 billion (17.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $8.8 billion (11%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $3.5 billion (4.4%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $3 billion (3.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $2.8 billion (3.5%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $2.7 billion (3.4%)
- Cereals: $2.5 billion (3.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $2.5 billion (3.1%)
- Iron, steel: $2.3 billion (2.9%)
These top 10 product categories represent over two-thirds (70.3%) of total Romanian exports.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 29.9% from 2017 to 2018.
In second place for improving export sales were Romanian items made from iron or steel via a 26.5% gain. Romania’s exported vehicles appreciating 20.8% year over year, closely followed by the 20.4% increase for iron and steel metal shipments from Romania.
At the more detailed Harmonized Tariff System code level, Romania’s most valuable exported products are automotive parts and accessories (9.6% of total) followed by cars (6.9%), insulated wire or cable (5.8%), refined petroleum oils (3.4%), electrical or optical circuit boards and panels (2.9%), seats and chairs (2.3%), new rubber tires (2.1%), mobile phones (1.6%) then wheat (1.5%).
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$4.2 billion (Up by 13.4% since 2017)
- Cereals: $2.2 billion (Up by 23.7%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $1.8 billion (Up by 3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $1.2 billion (Down by -8.7%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $937.3 million (Up by 11.7%)
- Oil seeds: $907.9 million (Down by -13.8%)
- Wood: $899.5 million (Down by -16.4%)
- Ships, boats: $634.8 million (Down by -19.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $576.8 million (Up by 6%)
- Footwear: $444.1 million (Down by -12%)
Romania has highly positive net exports in the international trade of vehicles, notably auto 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 -$18.1 billion trade deficit during 2018, up 23.2% from the -$14.7 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$3.9 billion (Up by 32.7% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$3.4 billion (Up by 25.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$3.4 billion (Up by 10%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$2.6 billion (Up by 6.4%)
- Iron, steel: -$1.1 billion (Up by 4.1%)
- Other chemical goods: -$1.1 billion (Up by 10.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1 billion (Up by 18.3%)
- Paper, paper items: -$755.4 million (Up by 6.8%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$742.8 million (Up by 11.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$680.7 million (Up by 5.6%)
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)
Romania’s capital city is Bucharest.
See also Romania’s Top Trading Partners, Moldova’s Top 10 Exports and Top EU Export Countries
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 25, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 29, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 25, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Romania. Accessed on March 25, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, Romania. Accessed on March 25, 2019