BUCHAREST, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Romania's January-September foreign trade gap jumped 57.8 percent on the year to 15.1 billion euros ($22.10 billion), as imports continued to remain strong, data showed on Friday.
The National Statistics Board (INS) said CIF (cost/insurance/freight) imports rose around 27 percent on the year to 36.5 billion euros in the first nine months, while exports were up 11.7 percent to 21.4 billion euros.
At the end of August, the trade gap has risen by 59.3 percent on the year, fuelled by strong imports as the European Union newcomer races to modernise its economy.
Trade figures have deteriorated sharply since Romania joined the EU at the start of this year due to the removal of import taxes with fellow member states and a fast appreciation of its leu currency in the first seven months of the year.
The trade gap has fuelled a gaping current account deficit, which almost doubled to 10.2 billion euros in the first eight months of the year over the same period of 2006.
Economists warn the deficit could cause a sharp downward spiral for the leu if foreign investment in Romania dries up or global markets turn sour towards emerging economies.
Data showed the EU accounted for 72 percent of Romania's exports and 71 percent of imports in January-September. (Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Cheryl Juckes)