Romania country brief

Overview

Romania is located in Southern Europe, on the Black Sea. It shares land boundaries with Bulgaria to the south, Serbia to the southwest, Hungary to the west, Ukraine to the north and Moldova to the northeast. The capital of Romania is Bucharest. 

Romania joined the European Union in 2007.  There are 32 Romanian members of the European Parliament.  Romania will hold the presidency of the Council of the EU for the first time in 2019. 

The official language is Romanian, a Romance language spoken by around 24 million people as a native language primarily in Romania and Moldova.  It is one of the official languages of the European Union.  The population of Romania is 19.9 million (2015), of which (2011) 83 per cent are Romanian, 6 per cent Hungarian, 3 per cent Roma, with smaller minorities of Ukrainians, Germans and others.  While the religious affiliation of the majority of Romanians is Eastern Orthodox (82 per cent), other faiths include Protestant (6 per cent), Catholic (4 per cent) and others, including Muslim (0.9 per cent).

Romania claimed independence from the Ottoman Empire in May 1877 and became a Republic in December 1947. The country's national day, known as Unification Day, occurs on 1 December and marks the 1918 union of Romania and Transylvania under the peace treaties that marked the end of World War I.

Bilateral Relations

Diplomatic relations between Australia and Romania were established in 1968. Australia is represented by a non-resident Ambassador to Romania based in Athens and by an Honorary Consulate in Bucharest. Romania has an Embassy in Canberra, a Consulate-General in Sydney, and Honorary Consulates in Melbourne and Perth.

Australia and Romania have concluded an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (1994), a Trade and Economic Agreement (1997) and an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion (2001). In April 2012, Australia's Department of Infrastructure signed an inaugural air services MOU for code share with the aeronautical authorities of Romania.

Australia and Romania share a likeminded approach to a range of international issues including international security, disarmament and non-proliferation.  Romania has worked with Australia as part of the UN Missions in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and Southern Sudan (UNMISS).  Since 2013, Romania has represented Australian consular interests in Syria.

High level visits

(positions indicated were held at the time of the visit)

March 2013: State Secretary for Global Affairs, Mr Ovidiu Dranga, visited Australia.

July 2012: Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Richard Marles, visited Romania.

January 2012: Mr Mircea Lubanovici, member of the Romanian Parliament – Chamber of Deputies in the Diaspora College, made an official visit to Australia.

April 2011: A delegation from the Department for Romanians Abroad paid a visit to the Romanian communities in Sydney and Melbourne.

April 2008: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attended the NATO Summit in Bucharest.

March 2007: Mr Zamfir Dumitrescu, Chair of the Romania – Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, visited Tasmania.

Trade and investment

In 2015-16, Romania was Australia's 62nd largest merchandise trading partner – a jump of 10 places since the previous financial year.  Australia's two-way merchandise trade with Romania was $288 million – up 67 per cent from the 2014-15 financial year. Exports to Romania amounted to $40 million and consisted mainly of telecommunications equipment and parts. Key imports from Romania were ships and boats, and mechanical handling equipment and parts, as well as women's clothing, and plywood and veneers. Australia's trade in services with Romania totaled $28 million. Bilateral investment heavily favors Romania with $56 million invested in Romania in 2014, compared to $1 million invested in Australia. A promising upturn in the trading relationship has been evident since 2011. 

Economic data can be found in the Romania Fact Sheet.

People to people links

Australia and Romania's relationship is built on a foundation of community ties.  According to the 2011 census, 14,051 people living in Australia declared they were Romanian-born while 20,994 claimed Romanian ancestry. In 2015-16, there were around 2,100 short-term visitors from Romania to Australia, up 29.3 per cent on the previous year.  Over the previous five years, the average annual growth in arrivals from Romania was 10.7 per cent.  Romania is Australia's 88th largest inbound tourist market by arrivals. 

Romania is Australia's 105th largest short-term destination.  In 2015-16, there were approximately 2,000 short-term resident departures from Australia to Romania, an increase of 24.1 per cent on the previous year.  Over the last five years, the average annual growth in departures to Romania was 7.5 per cent.

Political overview

Under Romania's presidential political system, an executive president is elected directly for a maximum of two five-year terms and is the head of state. While in office, the president must renounce all party positions and affiliations. The president is the commander of the armed forces, represents the state in foreign relations and may take part in government meetings to discuss issues of national interest. 

President Klaus Iohannis was sworn in on 21 December 2014, after winning 54 per cent of the popular vote and standing as the Christian Liberal candidate.  The next presidential election is due by 16 November 2019.

The Romanian Parliament comprises two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies (412 seats); and the Senate (176 seats). The constitution gives Parliament a central place in the system of state authorities. It has power in exceptional circumstances to dismiss or suspend the president.  Members serve four-year terms.  At the last Parliamentary election, held on 11 December 2016, Romania's Social Democratic Party (PSD) secured a comfortable win, gaining around 46 per cent of the vote, while the centre-right National Liberal Party (PNL) obtained 20 per cent.

The President appoints the Prime Minister based on parliamentary elections.   Following the elections in December 2016, President Iohannis appointed Sorin Grindeanu as Prime Minister.

The current head of state and key ministers can be found on the Romania - Heads of Government Listing.

Foreign policy

Romania's foreign policy is predominantly focused on relations with its neighbours and within the EU and NATO. Securing membership of the EU's visa-free Schengen arrangement is a priority. The country's NATO membership (since 2004) and relationship with the United States (including the December 2011 agreement on hosting a US ballistic missile defence system) are of strategic importance.

Romania has participated in military interventions in Afghanistan (2015), Libya (2011) and Iraq (2009). Romania also contributed to UN Peacekeeping Operations including in Haiti (2013), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo and Liberia.  Romania is a member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC).

Economic overview

The second poorest country in the European Union, Romania registered one of the highest growth rates in Europe (five per cent) in 2016, driven by strong industrial exports and an excellent agricultural harvest. Industry outperformed other sectors of the economy. Exports remained the engine of economic growth, led by trade with the EU, which accounts for roughly 76 per cent of Romania's merchandise trade (2015).

Although Romania ran a current account deficit of US$-3.7 billion in 2016, the unemployment rate was relatively low at 6.4 per cent. Romania's macroeconomic gains have only recently started to spur the development of a middle class and to address Romania's areas of rural poverty.

Progress on structural reforms in Romania has been uneven and the economy is vulnerable to external shocks. An ageing population, emigration by the young, weak domestic demand, tax evasion and inadequate health-care represent vulnerabilities.

Romania has made impressive progress against corruption. Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index 2016 shows Romania's efforts on countering corruption have improved its ranking to 57 out of 176 countries - a jump of 27 places since 2006.

Updated March 2017


Last Updated: 3 March 2017