Foreign trade has grown rapidly during the 1990s, as Romania has quickly liberalized its trade regime. The country joined the World Trade Organization in 1995 and the Central European Free Trade Area in 1997. It also enjoys special trading rights with the European Union as a precursor to membership. Some 63.8 percent of exports go to EU countries, making Romania's economy dependent on that of major markets, particularly Italy. Great hopes are placed on the ending of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, the successor countries to which are natural trading partners for Romania.
Romanian companies have found it hard to take advantage of the new export opportunities, however. Meanwhile, imports have risen by 42 percent in dollar terms since 1990, as Romanians take advantage of their new access to consumer goods and as companies import investment goods such as computers. As a result, the country runs a persistent trade deficit .
Fortunately, export growth has accelerated in the past 2 years, thanks in part to high world commodity prices for Romanian exports such as steel, aluminum, and refined oil products. Nevertheless, 2000 exports rose 21.9
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Romania|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
percent in dollar terms compared to the previous year, while imports rose 25.6 percent, according to the national statistics office. And the trade gap is expected to remain large for at least the next 4 years.