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Bulgaria Economy Profile 2017

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Economy - overviewBulgaria, a former communist country that entered the EU in 2007, has an open economy that has historically has demonstrated strong growth, but its per-capita income remains one of the lowest among EU members and its reliance on energy imports and foreign demand for its exports makes its growth sensitive to external market conditions.

The government undertook significant structural economic reforms in the 1990s to move the economy from a centralized, planned economy to a more liberal, market-driven economy. These reforms included the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the liberalization of trade, and strengthening of the tax system - changes that initially caused some economic hardships but later helped to attract investment, spur growth, and make gradual improvements to living conditions. From 2000 through 2008, Bulgaria maintained robust, average annual real GDP growth in excess of 6%, which was followed by a deep recession in 2009 as the financial crisis caused domestic demand, exports, capital inflows and industrial production to contract, prompting the government to rein in spending. Real GDP growth remained slow - less than 2% annually - until 2015, when demand from EU countries for Bulgarian exports, plus an inflow of EU development funds, boosted growth to more than 3%. In recent years, low international energy prices have contributed to Bulgaria’s economic growth and helped to ease inflation, but, in 2017, rising international gas prices could dampen Bulgaria’s growth prospects.

Bulgaria is heavily reliant on energy imports from Russia, a potential vulnerability, and is a participant in EU-backed efforts to diversify regional natural gas supplies. In late 2016, the Bulgarian Government provided funding to Bulgaria’s National Electric Company to cover the $695 million compensation owed to Russian nuclear equipment manufacture Atomstroyexport for the cancellation of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant project, which the Bulgarian Government terminated in 2012. In 2016 the Bulgarian Government established the State eGovernment Agency. This new agency is responsible for the implementation of projects related to electronic governance as well as coordination of national policies in the area with the EU requirements and practices, as well as to strengthen cybersecurity.

Despite a favorable investment regime, including low, flat corporate income taxes, significant challenges remain. Corruption in public administration, a weak judiciary, low productivity, and the presence of organized crime continue to hamper the country's investment climate and economic prospects.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$143.1 billion (2016 est.)
$138.9 billion (2015 est.)
$134.9 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$50.45 billion (2016 est.)
GDP - real growth rate3% (2016 est.)
3% (2015 est.)
1.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$20,100 (2016 est.)
$19,400 (2015 est.)
$18,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving22.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
22.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
22.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 60.8%
government consumption: 15.9%
investment in fixed capital: 20.4%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 69.1%
imports of goods and services: -66.3% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 5.1%
industry: 27.5%
services: 67.5% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line22% (2015 est.)
Labor force3.017 million
note: number of employed persons (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 6.8%
industry: 26.6%
services: 66.6% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate8% (2016 est.)
10% (2015 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 23.8%
male: 23.8%
female: 23.7% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.2%
highest 10%: 28.4% (2015)
Distribution of family income - Gini index37 (2015)
35.4 (2014)
Budgetrevenues: $18.25 billion
expenditures: $17.46 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues36.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)1.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt26.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
26.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
note:: defined by the EU's Maastricht Treaty as consolidated general government gross debt at nominal value, outstanding at the end of the year in the following categories of government liabilities: currency and deposits, securities other than shares excluding financial derivatives, and loans; general government sector comprises the subsectors: central government, state government, local government, and social security funds
Inflation rate (consumer prices)-0.8% (2016 est.)
-0.1% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate0% (31 December 2016)
0.01% (31 December 2015)
note: Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) has had no independent monetary policy since the introduction of the Currency Board regime in 1997; this is BNB's base interest rate
Commercial bank prime lending rate6.58% (31 December 2016 est.)
6.59% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$21.95 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$20.09 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$42.79 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$41.32 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$27.38 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$29.72 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$5.205 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.797 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$5.45 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Agriculture - productsvegetables, fruits, tobacco, wine, wheat, barley, sunflowers, sugar beets; livestock
Industrieselectricity, gas, water; food, beverages, tobacco; machinery and equipment, automotive parts, base metals, chemical products, coke, refined petroleum, nuclear fuel; outsourcing centers
Industrial production growth rate2.8% (2016 est.)
Current Account Balance$2.201 billion (2016 est.)
-$67 million (2015 est.)
Exports$23.72 billion (2016 est.)
$23.95 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesclothing, footwear, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, fuels, agriculture, tobacco, IT components
Exports - partnersGermany 12.5%, Italy 9.2%, Turkey 8.5%, Romania 8.2%, Greece 6.5%, France 4.2% (2015)
Imports$25.66 billion (2016 est.)
$26.81 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment; metals and ores; chemicals and plastics; fuels, minerals, and raw materials
Imports - partnersGermany 12.9%, Russia 12%, Italy 7.6%, Romania 6.8%, Turkey 5.7%, Greece 4.8%, Spain 4.8% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$25.13 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$22.16 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$36.52 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$37.25 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$42.21 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$41.47 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$2.033 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.925 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesleva (BGN) per US dollar -
1.802 (2016 est.)
1.7644 (2015 est.)
1.7644 (2014 est.)
1.4742 (2013 est.)
1.52 (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on July 9, 2017

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