In the first semester of 2017, Romania’s imports totalled EUR 36.7 billion, of which 8.8% were foodstuff imports – EUR 3.2 billion. Such a level hasn’t been recorded after 1989 and it is double against H1 2008, official statistics reveal.
Data released on Wednesday by the National Statistics Institute (INS) show that Romania’s agro-food exports in H1 2017 were worth only EUR 2.1 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of EUR 1.1 billion, another historical record.
In the ‘peak year’ of the economy, 2008, the agro-food imports in H1 amounted to EUR 1.6 billion. They then climbed steadily, reaching the threshold of EUR 2 billion in H1 2013 and in 2017, specialists say that we have one of the best agricultural years, but domestic producers have only been able to cover the demand for food in a small extent. Retail trade in this product group increased in the first half of this year by 3.5% as compared to the same period in 2016, INS data reveal.
Agricultural employers say that the storage facilities with controlled temperature for foodstuff can store at most 40% of the national production, the rest – being impossible to store on a long-term basis – it is sold immediately after the harvest or delivered for export. For this reason, every year, Romania imports massively food during the winter and spring, rebalancing then – in the summer and autumn months – the balance of exports/imports.
The only year when the trade balance with agro-food products registered a surplus (exports higher than imports) was 2015, against the background of record grain deliveries on the foreign markets.
Romania’s overall trade deficit has reached EUR 5.837 billion in the first six months of the year, up by almost 30.2% against the similar period last year (EUR 4.483 billion).