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Intellinews - Romania Country Report- March 2013

  • 25 pages, published in March 2013
  • By Emerging Markets Direct Media Holdings
  • Report Number: 837215

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First industry and foreign trade numbers released for 2013 were unexpectedly encouraging. Manufacturing’s activity expanded by 6.6% y/y in January, driven by the 6.1% y/y rise of exports*. CA’s balance moved in the surplus area once again in January – after it posted surpluses in two other months last year. Also, foreign investors were remarkably interested in local public debt – independent estimates put the related inflows at EUR 4bn [3% of GDP] in Q1, of which EUR 2bn was already confirmed by the ministry of finance**. This naturally strengthened the currency [see chart beside]. The inflows were reportedly encouraged by Romania’s issues being included in global indices – which is good, but also highlights the one-off pattern of the inflows. The inflows helped the Treasury borrow in Q1 more than planned and at decreasing cost. The Cyprus turmoil put an end however to the investors’ euphoria and the local currency’s strengthening in January-February has moderated in late March.

The side-effects of regional concerns were not major, yet enough to bring more rationality among investors: at the end, Romania is still a country that runs twin deficits, faces major problems in the real sector and the capacity of absorbing funds from the EU budget remains very weak amid poor administrative capacity.

Furthermore, the government has to speed up at unprecedented rate the structural reforms in the state-owned sector if it wants to complete the stand-by agreement with the IMF this summer. The government has just moderated the fiscal consolidation schedule [yet maintaining the broad medium-term targets] and the CA surplus in January is hardly sustainable unless the absorption of EU funds improves substantially. And to date there are no signs that such improvement is imminent. The government expects the intermediary payments from EU budget to resume only in H2. More than that, the EC will probably not loosen the absorption terms such as to allow Romania use funds under 2007-13 budget three years [instead of two as currently] after the period expires. Romania has used only 12.2% of the nearly EUR 20bn earmarked under 2007-13 EU budget.

* the high y/y growth might reflect orders/shipments postponed from December, when elections and small number of working days resulted in subdued activity
* as the rise in the stock of government securities held by non-residents.

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