BUCHAREST, Romania --Romania's trade deficit widened by over 44 percent in 2006 compared to last year to reach about euro15 billion (US$20 billion), the country's National Statistics Institute said Friday.
The increase was due to higher imports, which rose by about 25 percent to euro40.7 billion (US$53 billion). Exports increased only by 16 percent compared to 2005 to euro25.8 billion (US$33.56 billion), with the automotive sector's exports up by 50 percent and machinery exports up by 33 percent, while the textile industry's and raw materials exports dropping by five percent.
The rise in imports was due to Romanians' growing appetite for foreign cars and electronics and an appreciation in real terms of the Romanian currency, the leu, compared to the euro and the US dollar. The average salary went up 30 percent in 2006, reaching about 1200 lei euro350 (US$450) before taxes in November.
Over 60 percent of trade was carried out with European Union countries, with Germany and Italy the main trade partners.Romania, which joined the EU in January, has seen strong economic growth since 2000 after deep recessions in the 1990s. The gross domestic product expanded by an estimated 8 percent in 2006