The graph above how exports of raw agricultural materials compare with exports of manufactured goods as percentages of total merchandise exports for a sample of 48 countries from the low, middle and high income groups.
Sampling criteria: availability of complete data, proportional representation of each group.
As you note (if you have really good glasses) , in 1995 Romania was exporting a little bit more in manufactured products than the US. Not that bad. It means we always had goo potential.So why is the US at least thrice as developed as Romania? Well, it is a matter of gross product -or how much money these exports actually bring in.
The GDP data was not considered for the graph as I only compiled it for a paper about issues related with food exports for low-income countries so it only had to point out the fact that in these countries food exports are a highest percentage of the total compared with middle-income (Romania) or high-income (US).
Original Data: UC Santa Cruz. (1995) UC Atlas of Global Inequality Database retrieved from http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/query.php