Which regions in Romania are already developed by international standards? Bucharest, parts of Transylvania and the Black Sea shore are rich enough, but many counties are lagging behind

Sorin Melenciuc 31/08/2018 | 07:00

Romania has already some regions which could be considered “developed” by international standards, in a moment when the whole country is preparing to enter leave the status of a “upper-middle income” and enter the superior category, but many other parts are lagging behind and could be considered poor even by local standards.

Bucharest, the Capital city of the Eastern European nation, is by far the richest part of the country. The 2-million city had a gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant of EUR 22,400 in 2017, more than twice bigger than the national average of EUR 9,600.

But other few counties in Romania have already reached the EUR 10,000 threshold (more than USD 12,000) necessary to be considered as developed.

According to the latest definitions by the World Bank, low-income economies (a politically correct name for “the third world”) are defined as those with a GNI per capita, calculated using the World Bank Atlas method, of USD 1,005 or less in 2016, lower middle-income economies – between USD 1,006 and USD 3,955, upper middle-income economies – between USD 3,956 and USD 2,235, and high-income economies – USD 12,236 or more.

According to Romania’s economic forecast body (CNPSP), eight out of 41 counties (excluding Bucharest) have already exceeded the EUR 10,000 threshold last year: Timis (EUR 12,897), Constanta (EUR 12,699), Cluj (EUR 11,937), Brasov (EUR 11,164), Ilfov (EUR 10,797), Alba (EUR 10,629), Sibiu (EUR 10,552), and Prahova (EUR 10,009).

These counties are located in the Capital area (Bucharest, Ilfov, and Prahova), in Transylvania (Cluj, Alba, Sibiu and Brasov), in the western region of Banat (Timis) and on the Black Sea coast (Constanta).

Large and populous regions like Moldova and Oltenia, the poorest in the country together with southern Wallachia, don’t have any county to reach the EUR 10,000 threshold.

According to CNPSP’s current estimate, other three counties will also exceed the level of EUR 10,000 per inhabitant by 2020: Arad, Arges, and Gorj.

Last year, due to its impressive economic growth rate of 6.9 percent, the highest in the European Union, Romania’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached a level of RON 858.3 billion, the equivalent of EUR 187.9 billion (around EUR 9,600 per capita) or USD 211.8 billion (USD 10,800 per capita), according to Business Review calculations based on official data.

For 2018, Romania’s government forecast a level of GDP of RON 945 billion, the equivalent of EUR 203 billion or USD 243 billion (calculated at an estimated average exchange rate of USD 1.2/EUR for 2018).

At this estimated GDP level, Romania will reach a level of about EUR 10,435 or USD 12,500 per capita, just over the World Bank’s threshold for high income economies.

Even if GNI per capita, calculated using the World Bank Atlas method, is slightly below the GDP per capita – in 2016, Romania’s GNI per capita using the World Bank Atlas method was 99.56 percent of GDP per capita (USD 9,480/USD 9,522) – Romania has many chances to become officially a “high-income economy” in 2018 – or in 2019 at the latest.

According to the latest World Bank report, 78 countries and territories are currently considered as being “high income economies”, including 26 out of 28 European Union member states – with the exception of Bulgaria and Romania.

Less poor but not really rich

However, experts say Romania still lags behind not only the rich Western countries, but also most other new Eastern members of the EU.

“Currently, Romania has a 7-10 year development lag over other Central and Eastern European countries like Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, or the Czech Republic (i.e. it needs 7-10 years to reach their current development level) and a 35-year development lag over OECD counties (i.e. it took OECD countries 35 years to develop from Romania’s current development level to their current development level),” the report “Magnet Cities: Migration and Commuting in Romania” recently released by the World Bank points out.

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