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flag Bulgaria Bulgaria: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline


Economic Indicators

Bulgaria experienced a strong growth starting from 1996. Successive governments showed a commitment to establishing tax and economic reforms, but they did not manage to control inflation and the current account deficit. During this time, Bulgaria was attracting a lot of FDI; however, the country has been badly hit by the financial crisis of 2008. As a member of the EU since 2007 and therefore subject to certain economic criteria, Bulgaria has since introduced a series of measures aimed at improving its economy and reducing its public deficit.

The 2009 recession materialized in a 5.5% contraction of the GDP and an unemployment rate that has gone from 5.6% in 2008 to 12.3% in 2013. The economic growth has been close to zero in 2013 (0.5%), after a growth of +0.8% in 2012, in a very tough economic context due in particular to a succession of political crisis. However, growth could reach 1.7% in 2014 according to the EU.

Today enjoying relative financial stability and having one of the lowest debts on the continent, of only 19,4% of GDP in 2013, Bulgaria - since its entrance into the EU - has continued its rapid transition, which was however restrained by the 2011 European crisis. The Bulgarian authorities have now made fiscal governance a priority and the government has implemented an austerity plan to deal with the consequences of the crisis, capping state expenditure, limiting the fiscal deficit to 3% and lowering the public debt.

The country faces many other challenges, including problems of corruption within the administration, a weak judicial system and the spreading of organized crime.

Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 53.5851.3353.05e55.08e57.60
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 7,3127,0497e7,6488,037
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -1.7-0.2-1.4e-2.1-1.3
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 15.417.516.425.2e25.1
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 11.412.413.012.511.9
Current Account (billions USD) 0.05-0.471.00-0.13-1.32
Current Account (in % of GDP) 0.1-0.91.9e-0.2-2.3

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Traditionally an agricultural country, Bulgaria is now considerably industrialized. In 2013, the agricultural sector contributed around 5.3% to the GDP and employed 6.5% of the active population.

The country has a skilled and inexpensive workforce. Nearly a third of the population works in the industrial sector. Bulgaria's main mineral resources include bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, lignite (brown coal), iron ore, oil and natural gas.

Industry still depends on heavy manufacturing sectors (metallurgical, chemical, machine building), which were developed during the socialist period. However, the most dynamic sectors are textile, pharmaceutical products, cosmetic products, and now, the mobile telephone industry and software industry. The manufacturing industry accounted for 31.2% of the GDP in 2013. It currently employs 32.5% of the active population.

The tertiary sector contributes to 63.5% of the GDP and employed 61% of the active population in 2013.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 6.4 31.3 62.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 5.5 27.9 66.6
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.3 -0.1 1.6

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
Bulgarian Lev (BGN) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 1.411.481.411.521.47

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Moderately Free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist - Business Environment Rankings 2014-2018


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Since joining the European Union, Bulgaria has experienced considerable growth of its trade, despite its large trade balance and recurring deficits. Bulgaria is more and more dependent on other European countries successes and in particular of Greece and Italy, countries currently facing strong difficulties. The EU countries have represented more than 50% of its exports and imports in 2013. The Bulgarian government has a proactive European attitude and trade remain critical to the development of the country.

Bulgarian exports go mainly to Germany, Turkey, Italy, Romania, Greece and France. Bulgaria mainly exports semi-processed goods and unprocessed products. The country also produces and export coal, iron, oil and gas. But the most dynamic sectors are textile, pharmaceuticals, software and mobile phone technologies. The country's main imports are food products, fuel, energy and capital goods from Russia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Greece and Turkey. The rise in energy prices has made Russia the leading supplier of Bulgaria, followed by Germany and Italy.

Bulgaria's foreign trade was indirectly affected by the global economic crisis, insofar that Bulgaria's main partner countries, which are in majority European countries, reduced their orders. The current difficulties of the EU economies further worsen this situation, although Bulgarian exports have shown resistance and they are stagnating rather than regression. The case in point was Greece, which was severely affected by the financial crisis and, therefore, strongly reduced its imports from Bulgaria. Bulgarian foreign trade have resumed growth since 2012.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 23,53925,51332,58232,71034,262
Exports of Goods (million USD) 16,31820,63028,20826,71529,470
Imports of Services (million USD) 5,0184,1604,2264,3864,746
Exports of Services (million USD) 6,8226,6307,4317,3717,551
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -11.717.
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 52.357.962.767.569.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 43.855.163.664.668.4
Trade Balance (million USD) -5,773-3,671-2,973-4,456-3,122
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -3,923-1,287294-1,474-341
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 96.1113.1126.3132.1137.4

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Germany 12.3%
Turkey 9.0%
Italy 8.7%
Romania 7.7%
Greece 6.9%
See More Countries 55.3%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
Russia 18.5%
Germany 10.8%
Italy 7.5%
Romania 6.7%
Turkey 5.9%
See More Countries 50.7%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 13.1%
Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought ...Copper, refined, and copper alloys, unwrought (excl. copper alloys of heading 7405) 5.0%
Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic...Copper, unrefined; copper anodes for electrolytic refining 3.5%
Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin 3.2%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.6%
See More Products 72.6%
- bn USD of products imported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 13.1%
Copper ores and concentratesCopper ores and concentrates 5.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 5.0%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 3.7%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.9%
See More Products 69.6%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)

Main Services

- bn USD of services exported in 2011
- bn USD of services imported in 2011

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Economy (in Bulgarian)
Ministry of Finance
Statistical Office
National Statistical Institute
Central Bank
Bulgarian National Bank
Stock Exchange
Bulgarian Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Economic Portals
Bulgaria business portal

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Political Outline

Executive Power
President is the chief of the state and is directly elected for a 5-year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President nominates the Prime Minister who is elected by the National Assembly. Prime Minister as Chairman of the Council of Ministers holds the executive powers and is also the head of the government. Prime Minister nominates the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers is the principal organ of the executive branch. The Council of Ministers must resign if the National Assembly passes a vote of no confidence in the Council or the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
Bulgaria has a unicameral parliament. The members of the parliament (called National Assembly) are elected for 4-year-terms by popular vote. A political party or coalition must garner a minimum of 4% of the vote in order to enter the National Assembly. Parliament is responsible for enactment of laws, approval of the budget, scheduling of presidential elections, selection and dismissal of the prime minister and other ministers, declaration of war, deployment of troops outside of Bulgaria, and ratification of international treaties and agreements. Bulgarian citizens enjoy considerable political rights.
Main Political Parties
Bulgaria has a multi-party system, where no single party generally has a chance of gaining power alone. Thus political parties work with each other to form coalition governments. However, the major political parties in the country are:
- BSP (Bulgarian Socialist Party)- socialist, draws its support from rural areas, earlier Bulgarian Communist Party;
- MRF (Movement for Rights and Freedoms)- centrist, liberal , formed mainly from the Turkish ethnic minority;
- SNM (National Movement Simeon II)- liberal, centered around the former king Simeon Saxe-Coburg;
- UtdDF (United Democratic Forces)- an alliance of anti-communist parties;
- ATAKA (Attack Coalition) - a group of nationalist parties, opposes ethnic minorities, advocates stronger ties with Russia.
Current Political Leaders
President: Rossen PLEVNELIEV (since 22 January 2012) – Independent
Prime Minister: Boyko BORISOV (since 7 November 2014) – GERB
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2016

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
13 places down compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: December 2014