Bulgaria shipped US$33.2 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar figure represents roughly 0.2% of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier.
Applying a continental lens, nearly three-quarters (73.8%) of Bulgarian exports by value were delivered to fellow European nations while 15.3% were sold to Asian importers.
Bulgaria shipped another 3.1% worth of goods to African countries with 2.1% going to North America. Even smaller percentages went to Latin America (under 1%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Oceania (under 1%) led by Australia.
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 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Bulgarian exports.
- Germany: US$4.9 billion (14.9% of total Bulgarian exports)
- Italy: $2.9 billion (8.7%)
- Romania: $2.8 billion (8.5%)
- Turkey: $2.5 billion (7.5%)
- Greece: $2.2 billion (6.7%)
- France: $1.3 billion (4%)
- Belgium: $1.2 billion (3.5%)
- Netherlands: $914.1 million (2.8%)
- China: $879.7 million (2.7%)
- Spain: $827.6 million (2.5%)
- United Kingdom: $820.6 million (2.5%)
- Poland: $771.8 million (2.3%)
- Czech Republic: $713.6 million (2.2%)
- Serbia: $620.7 million (1.9%)
- Austria: $598.4 million (1.8%)
Almost three-quarters (71.8%) of Bulgarian exports in 2017 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Belgium (down -7.6%) and Spain (down -5.8%) are the only top importers that decreased its purchases from Bulgaria from 2017 to 2018. Among the other 13 countries, gains ranged from a minimum of 2.9% for Serbia up to 23.9% for Netherlands.
Bulgaria incurred an overall trade deficit of -$4.7 billion during 2018, up 8% from the -$4.4 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$3.2 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Spain: -$976.9 million
- Hungary: -$724.8 million
- China: -$674.6 million
- Netherlands: -$526.7 million
- Poland: -$485.8 million
- Austria: -$349 million
- Ukraine: -$346.3 million
- Egypt: -$342.3 million
- Slovakia: -$209.2 million
Among Bulgaria’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Bulgarian deficits with Egypt (up 56.4%), China (up 26.5%) and Austria (up 26.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
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$578.7 million (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Belgium: $407.4 million
- France: $295.9 million
- Singapore: $251 million
- Germany: $243.2 million
- United Kingdom: $239.9 million
- Romania: $226.5 million
- United States: $217 million
- Gibraltar: $189.4 million
- Turkey: $175.1 million
Among Bulgaria’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Bulgarian surpluses with Gibraltar (up 216.9%), Greece (up 82.5%) and United States (up 66.6%) grew at the fastest percentage pace from 2017 to 2018. In addition, Bulgaria reversed a -$194.8 million deficit trading with Germany in 2017 to garner $243.2 million in black ink for 2018. Similarly, Bulgaria went from a -$23.3 million deficit trading with Romania to a $226.5 million surplus one year later.
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
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 23, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 23, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 23, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 23, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bulgaria. Accessed on March 23, 2019