BIRN Fact-Check: Is Romania on Course to Sustained Growth?

This has been, unsurprisingly, celebrated by the country's centrist government as proof of the Romanian economy's good health despite the pandemic. 

Last May, after Eurostat announced that Romania's economy had the highest growth in the EU in the first quarter of 2021, at 2.8 per cent, Prime Minister Florin Citu told the media: "In the coming years, I expect economic growth to exceed all the estimations made until now, and that all Romanians will benefit from it."

A few days later, in June 2021, a Deloitte study listed Romania, together with China, Chile, Australia, Lithuania and South Korea, as one of only six countries in the world whose GDP had grown during the pandemic. 

By the end of the first quarter of 2021, the Romanian economy had expanded by 1 per cent compared to the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, the last quarter before economies in Europe were unaffected by the pandemic.

But are these green shoots heralding a healthy return to sustained GDP growth? Experts consulted by BIRN agree that the country adapted much better than most others to the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic restrictions - and do see a promising near future ahead. 

But they also warn that the rebound comes at the expense of the public deficit, which will have to be drastically reduced in the coming years.

Saved by IT sector and public money

Clara Volintiru, associate professor at Bucharest's Academy of Economic Studies, partially attributes the quick return to growth to the vigour of the country's IT sector, which in 2018 accounted for 6 per cent of GDP. 

"The IT sector and value-added services in the consultancy services have grown during the pandemic, and their contribution to Romania's GDP has generated this...

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