Romania Table of Contents
International Trade Fair Building, Bucharest
Courtesy Scott Edelman
During the postwar era, Romania used foreign trade effectively as an instrument to enhance the development of the national economy and to pursue its goal of political and economic independence. In this context, earning a foreign-trade surplus was not a primary concern until the late 1970s. The primary goal, rather, was acquisition of the modern technologies and raw materials needed to create and sustain a highly diversified industrial plant. The export program was geared to earning the required hard currency to purchase these materials and technologies. But in the 1980s, the focus of foreign trade was shifted to curtail imports and run large hard-currency surpluses to repay the debt that had accrued in the previous two decades. Enterprises that produced for export received preferential treatment in resource allocation and higher prices for their output.
Foreign trade was a state monopoly. Trade policy was established by the PCR and the government, and its implementation was the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Economic Cooperation. Subordinate to the ministry were special state agencies--foreign-trade organizations--that conducted all import and export transactions. In 1969 the ministry was reorganized to become essentially a coordinating agency, and within a year only three foreign-trade organizations remained under its direct control. This decentralization was short-lived, however, as the number of foreign-trade organizations was reduced from fifty-six in 1972 to forty in 1975, and all but four of these were returned to the ministry's control.
Data as of July 1989