Bulgaria exported US$33.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 29.2% gain since 2015 but a -0.03% dip from 2018 to 2019.
Applying a continental lens, 74.5% of Bulgaria’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 15.7% were sold to importers in Asia.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (4%), North America (2.5%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.4%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.2%).
Bulgaria’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Bulgaria’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Bulgarian shipments by dollar value during 2019. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Bulgarian exports.
- Germany: US$4.9 billion (14.8% of Bulgaria’s total exports)
- Romania: $2.9 billion (8.7%)
- Italy: $2.5 billion (7.4%)
- Turkey: $2.4 billion (7.2%)
- Greece: $2.3 billion (6.8%)
- France: $1.3 billion (3.8%)
- Belgium: $953.6 million (2.9%)
- China: $913.2 million (2.7%)
- Spain: $909 million (2.7%)
- Netherlands: $846.9 million (2.5%)
- Czech Republic: $794.5 million (2.4%)
- United Kingdom: $783.3 million (2.4%)
- Serbia: $732.3 million (2.2%)
- Poland: $723.4 million (2.2%)
- United States: $624.9 million (1.9%)
Over two-thirds (70.5%) of Bulgarian exports in 2019 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Increasing their consumption of Bulgaria’s exported goods at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019 were the United States (up 11.4%), Czech Republic (also up 11.4%), Spain (up 10.3%), Serbia (up 10.3%) and China (up 3.5%).
Leading the decliners were Belgium (down -17.7%) and Italy (down -14.5%).
Overall, Bulgaria incurred a trade deficit of -$3.9 billion during 2019, down -16.5% from -$4.6 billion in red ink one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Bulgaria incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- Russia: -US$3.1 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2019)
- Hungary: -$756.9 million
- China: -$748.8 million
- Poland: -$560.6 million
- Spain: -$511 million
- Netherlands: -$504.5 million
- Egypt: -$400.5 million
- Italy: -$349.9 million
- Austria: -$330 million
- Ukraine: -$218.1 million
Among Bulgaria’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Bulgarian deficits with Egypt (up 14.9%), Poland (up 13.5%) and China (up 11.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019. In addition, Bulgaria went from generating a $12.3 million surplus trading with Italy in 2018 to post a -$349.9 million deficit in 2019.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Bulgaria’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Bulgaria to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Bulgaria incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- Greece: US$516.2 million (country-specific trade surplus in 2019)
- Germany: $399 million
- Tunisia: $284.5 million
- United Kingdom: $268 million
- United States: $266.4 million
- Belgium: $235 million
- Romania: $212.3 million
- Gibraltar: $152.9 million
- France: $136.2 million
- Namibia: $129.4 million
Among Bulgaria’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Bulgarian surpluses with Tunisia (up 127.2%), Germany (up 76.4%) and the United States (up 22.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Bulgaria’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Bulgaria to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Bulgarian Trading Partners
Not one Bulgarian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists companies from Bulgaria including international trade players. Selected examples are shown below.
- Armimex (weapons, ammunition)
- Astika Brewery (beer)
- Bulgartabac (cigarettes)
- Chimimport (chemicals)
- Kremikovtzi AD (cast iron, steel)
- LUKOIL Neftochim Burgas (petrochemical products)
- Maxeurope (bicycles, childcare products)
- Navibulgar (shipping company)
- Sofia Mel (bread)
- Vitta Foods (frozen pastry products)
See also Bulgaria’s Top 10 Exports and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Europe: Bulgaria. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 26, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 26, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, Bulgaria. Accessed on March 26, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bulgaria. Accessed on March 26, 2020