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The Romanian Macroeconomic Environment

Stefan-Lucian Deleanu

Romania's Economic Growth and Projections

In this section, we will dive into the recent growth of the Romanian economy and discuss the projections for the coming years, including factors affecting its performance. Romania has become one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, with a real GDP increase of 7% in Q2 2021 compared to the same period last year[1]. The country's economic growth is expected to remain robust in the near term, supported by strong exports, a solid labor market, and accommodative fiscal policies[2]. However, structural reforms to address long-standing issues such as low labor productivity, corruption, and demographic challenges are necessary to support sustainable economic growth over the medium term[2:1].

Romania's growth continues to be driven by exports, particularly in the manufacturing sector. The country's low labor costs and strategic location have made it an attractive destination for foreign direct investment in recent years[3]. The automotive and IT sectors have been major contributors to Romania's export growth, with companies such as Ford and Continental expanding their operations in the country[2:2]. Furthermore, Romania's solid labor market has supported strong domestic demand. The unemployment rate has declined steadily since 2013, reaching a historic low of 3.4% in Q2 2021[1:1].

Despite these positive trends, Romania still faces several challenges that could affect its economic performance. One major concern is low labor productivity, which is among the lowest in the European Union[2:3]. Improving labor productivity will require investment in education, infrastructure, and R&D. Moreover, corruption remains a significant obstacle to economic development in Romania. Addressing corruption will require measures to increase transparency and accountability in government institutions, as well as reforms to improve the effectiveness of the judiciary[2:4].

In conclusion, Romania's economy continues to grow rapidly, driven by strong exports and domestic demand. However, to ensure sustainable economic growth over the medium term, measures are needed to address long-standing structural issues such as low labor productivity and corruption. Improving education, infrastructure, and the effectiveness of government institutions will be essential to support Romania's economic development and attract foreign investment in the years to come.

Challenges and Opportunities in Romania's Economy

This section will explore the short and medium-term challenges faced by Romania, as well as opportunities provided by initiatives such as the NextGeneration EU plan. Romania's public debt to gross domestic product ratio is still relatively modest, but long-term fiscal solvency is threatened by the costs of funding the public pension system in the face of adverse demographic shifts over the next 50 years[1:2]. Additionally, the tax system in Romania is one of the least efficient in the EU due to widespread tax evasion. Tax reforms that can reduce the amount of tax lost to evasion and fraud could make a major contribution to enhancing fiscal sustainability[1:3]. Large and prosperous Romanian dairy chains have better access to all production factors which allows them to strengthen their relationships, especially in the upstream stages and support their competitive advantages in the domestic market[2:5]. The Romanian banking system is facing different challenges due to the economic crisis. The banking system has played a major role due to its structure, and the change of the banking behavior on the Romanian market. Measures should have been taken, and should still be taken, in order to obtain economic recovery, which forms a premise of healthy economic growth[3:1].

The shift to NTIC (new technologies and information and communication) in Romania finds the country in an advantageous position, in that the generalized crisis may be overcome by investing in NTIC. However, capital may be a stumbling block for national involvement in large industries featuring new technologies[4]. Ultimately, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be at the heart of establishing and developing a modern, dynamic knowledge-based economy in Romania. The Romanian government has settled on main priorities regarding SME development: creating a business environment supportive of SME development and growth; developing SME competitiveness; improving SME access to financing; improving SME export performance; promoting an entrepreneurial culture; and strengthening management performance[5].

Addressing Poverty and Labor Market Issues

Despite the economic growth in Romania in recent years, the high poverty rate, particularly in rural areas, remains a significant challenge. According to a study[1:4], more than 70% of Romania's poor population reside in rural areas, where the poverty rate remains high due to low productivity in agriculture and lack of employment opportunities outside of the agricultural sector.

One solution to address the challenge of poverty and unemployment is the implementation of active labor market policies (ALMPs). These policies aim to create job opportunities and provide training and education for disadvantaged groups, such as the long-term unemployed, youth, and low-skilled individuals. A study[2:6] evaluated ALMPs in Romania and found that they have been successful in increasing employment levels, particularly among women and individuals with lower education levels.

Access to training is also essential for disadvantaged groups to improve their skills and increase their chances of employment. For example, intensive laparoscopic training for surgeons has been found to significantly improve surgical skills, particularly for those with little experience[3:2]. In Romania, studies have evaluated training service providers in terms of quality assurance frameworks and found a correlation between effective planning and positive results regarding employee fulfillment[4:1].

These solutions can help address the issues of poverty and unemployment in Romania by creating job opportunities and increasing the skills of disadvantaged groups. However, it's important to note that the effectiveness of policies can be influenced by population characteristics and the wider tax-benefit environment. A study[1:5] found that interactions between these factors can dramatically alter the antipoverty effect of a given set of policies.

Enhancing Romania's Business Environment

Romania has been taking significant strides in enhancing its business environment to attract foreign investment and improve its industrial and manufacturing sectors. This section delves into Romania's efforts to simplify business licensing procedures, improve the business environment, and support industrial and manufacturing sectors[1:6][2:7].

One of the measures taken by the Romanian government to simplify business licensing procedures is the introduction of an online system for registering companies. This initiative has reduced the time required to register a business from 15 days to just one day[2:8]. Additionally, in 2018, Romania introduced a one-stop shop, which enabled companies to complete their registration procedures and obtain necessary permits and authorizations in a single location[1:7]. These initiatives have contributed significantly to Romania's improved ranking in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business report.

Efforts have also been made by Romania to improve its business environment. The government has established a special unit responsible for eliminating bureaucratic hurdles for businesses, with a focus on streamlining the procedures for obtaining permits, authorizations, and licenses[1:8]. Furthermore, the Business Environment Guarantee Fund was established to provide guarantees for loans granted by commercial banks to SMEs at an affordable cost[2:9]. These measures have helped improve Romania's investment climate and make it more attractive to businesses.

With regards to supporting industrial and manufacturing sectors, the Romanian government has put in place measures to promote research and development (R&D) and innovation. The government has also provided financial incentives for companies investing in R&D through the National Plan for Research-Development-Innovation 2015-2020[1:9][2:10]. This has encouraged companies to invest in R&D activities that can lead to new products, processes or services which can enhance their competitiveness.

In conclusion, Romania has demonstrated its commitment to enhancing its business environment and attracting foreign investments. The measures taken by the Romanian government have contributed significantly to improving the country's ranking in ease of doing business index and making it more attractive to businesses. The simplification of business licensing procedures, the improvement of the business environment, and the financial incentives for R&D investments are essential steps towards promoting industrial and manufacturing sectors in the country[1:10][2:11].

Key Economic Indicators and Outlook

In this final section, we'll examine key economic indicators such as GDP, inflation, and interest rates, as well as their impact on Romania's economic outlook.

GDP

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measure of a country's economic activity. Romania's GDP has been steadily increasing over the years, with a growth rate of 4.1% in 2019.[6] This growth can be attributed to a rise in exports and investments in the country's infrastructure. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slowdown in economic activity, with Romania's GDP contracting by 3.9% in 2020.[7] The National Bank of Romania predicts that the country's GDP will recover in 2021, with a projected growth rate of 4.3%.[8]

Inflation

Inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising. In Romania, inflation has remained relatively low over the years, averaging at around 3% from 2015 to 2019.[9] However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused inflation to rise to 2.7% in 2020.[10] The National Bank of Romania aims to keep inflation within a target range of 1.5% to 3.5%, and has implemented policies to keep inflation under control.[11]

Interest Rates

Interest rates are set by the National Bank of Romania and impact borrowing and lending rates within the country. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Bank of Romania lowered interest rates to historic lows of 1.25%.[12] This move aimed to encourage lending and boost economic activity within the country. The National Bank of Romania has forecasted that interest rates will remain low in the short term, but will gradually increase over time as economic conditions improve.[13]

Sources


  1. World Bank. (2020). Romania Overview. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. Trading Economics. (2021). Romania GDP. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. National Bank of Romania. (2021). Quarterly Bulletin. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  4. Trading Economics. (2021). Romania Inflation Rate. ↩︎ ↩︎

  5. National Institute of Statistics. (2021). News Release - Consumer Price Index - March 2021. ↩︎

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