BULGARIA


One of the three newest EU members
A Balkan country with spectacular mountains and the Black sea coastline


Total area: 111, 000 sq km (roughly the size of Tennessee)
Population:  7.2 million
Government type: Parliamentary democracy
Administrative division: 28 provinces
Capital + other major cities: Sofia (1.2 million) + Plovdiv (341,000), Varna (335,000), Burgas (201,000), Ruse (152,000)
Currency: lev (BGL)
Languages: Bulgarian 76.8% (official), Turkish 8.2%, Roma 3.8%, other 0.7%, undeclared 10.5%
Ethnicity: Bulgarian 76.9%, Turkish 8%, Roma 4.4%, other 0.7% (including Russian, Armenian, and Vlach), other (unknown) 10%
Religion: Eastern Orthodox 59.4%, Muslim 7.8.%, other (including Catholic, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, and Jewish) 1.7%, none 3.7%, undeclared 27.4%
President: (Mr.) Rosen PLEVNELIEV (since 22 January 2012)
Prime Minister: (Mr.) Boyko BORISOV (since 7 November 2014))
Date of EU accession: 1 January 2007
mapa



KEY FEATURES

  • Great potential of tourism sector (coast of Black sea, mountains)
  • High share of agricultural sector and strong food industry – dairy, wine
  • Biggest power exporter in the Balkan region
  • EU’s poorest country (45% of EU-27 average GDP per capita (PPS)), including 5 of EU’s 10 poorest regions
  • A long fight with corruption still ahead
  • Uses Cyrillic, well-developed trade with Russia

Bulgaria's per-capita PPP GDP is still only about a half of the EU27 average. In 2015 Bulgaria was the Member State with the lowest per-capita GDP, at 54 % below the EU average. However, Bulgaria ranks 38th (2015) in the Ease of Doing Business rank list, higher than most other Eastern European states, and 42nd (2013) in the Economic Freedom of the World index, outperforming Belgium, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Portugal. Bulgaria also has the third lowest public debt of all European Union member states at 27.0% of GDP in 2015.


Despite being lowest in Europe by GDP per capita, Bulgaria has good potential for further growth. Production with low added value still prevails within the local industry. Bulgaria has strong metallurgical production which represents 20% of the country’s export. The country has a high share of agriculture and food industry well known for its dairy products and wine, which is often exported to Russia and the EU. It is also an important power producer and exporter in the region. In the service sector, tourism has a great potential due to the country’s beautiful mountains and sea coast. Similarly to some other markets in this region, obstacles in the market include bureaucracy and corruption. Bulgaria has also introduced a new set of tax laws aimed at supporting local businesses as well as attracting FDI. These include a 10% corporate tax rate which can be completely waived in selected regions, and a flat 10% personal income tax. The Bulgarian currency has been firmly pegged to the EUR, which provides good stability and eliminates risk in trade.



MACROECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Selected economic indicators, Bulgaria, 2010 - 2016

    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016*
GDP
Real GDP growth
%
0.1
1.6
0.2
1.3
1.5
3.0
2.4
GDP at current prices
€ bn
36.05
38.50
41.69
41.91
42.75
44.16
Foreign trade
Exports
€ bn
20.70
25.60
26.62
28.05
27.84
29.35
Imports
€ bn
21.38
25.61
27.84
28.42
28.21
28.71
Balance
€ bn
-0.68
-0.01
-1.22
-0.37
-0.37
0.64
Prices
CPI - average inflation rate
%
3.0
3.4
2.4
0.4
-1.6
-1.1
-0.7
PPI - industry - average
%
8.7
9.4
4.2
-1.6
-1.2
-1.9
Employment
Registered unemployment
%
10.3
11.3
12.4
13.0
11.5
9.2
8.6
Average monthly gross wage
331
351
374
401
421
457
Exchange rates
BGN/USD average
1.4767
1.4067
1.5222
1.4731
1.4722
1.7635
Currency board fixed rate: BGN/EUR
1.9558
1.9558
1.9558
1.9558
1.9558
1.9558

*2016 data - forecast
Source: Bulgarian National statistical institute, IMF, Eurostat, 2016



KEY SECTORS

64% of GDP is in services, 30% in industry and 6% in agriculture. Tourism has seen stable growth of 5-12% in the last 16 years (wellness & spa and historical tourism growing, ski resorts start-ups mushrooming).

Extraction of metals and minerals, production of chemicals, machinery and vehicle components, petroleum refining and steel are among the major industrial activities. Mining and its related industries employ a total of 120,000 people and generate about five per cent of the country's GDP. Bulgaria is Europe's sixth-largest coal producer. Local deposits of coal, iron, copper and lead are vital for the manufacturing and energy sectors. Almost all top export items of Bulgaria are industrial commodities such as oil products, copper products and pharmaceuticals. It is the largest global producer of perfumery essential oils such as lavender and rose oil.

Within the manufacturing sector, food processing is the major segment known especially for its dairy products and wine which is exported mostly to Russia and the EU. Other important sub-sectors include metallurgy (approx. 20% of the country’s exports), textile (close ties with European manufacturers and foreign companies), engineering (supplies of components for foreign OEMs) and electrical engineering/electronics (especially components for the automotive industry).

Of the services sector, tourism is the most significant contributor to economic growth. In recent years, Bulgaria has emerged as a travelling destination with its inexpensive resorts and beaches outside the reach of the tourist industry. Lonely Planet ranked it among its top 10 destinations for 2011. Most of the visitors are British, Romanian, German and Russian. The capital Sofia, the medieval capital Veliko Tarnovo, coastal resorts Golden Sands and Sunny Beach and winter resorts Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets are some of the locations most visited by tourists.



EXPORTS & IMPORTS


Bulgaria is quite proactive in foreign trade, with export/GDP ratio of 66.5% in 2015. The key exported commodities are clothing, footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, and fuels. The key imports include machinery and equipment, metals and ores, chemicals and plastics, fuels, minerals and raw materials.


2015 export and import data:




Main import partners:
Germany - 14.6%
Russia -13.6%
Italy - 8.6%
Romania - 7.7%
Turkey - 6.4%


Main export partners:
Germany - 12.4%
Italy - 9.2%
Turkey - 8.6%
Romania - 8.1%
Greece - 6.5%


Bulgaria external trade - 2015




See references for our track record in Bulgaria.



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