That dollar amount results from a 48.7% upturn from $33.8 billion in 2018.
Since 2021, the overall value of Bulgarian exports rose 21.5% from $41.4 billion.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Bulgarian lev depreciated by -12.3% against the US dollar since 2018 and diluted by -12.5% from 2021 to 2022. Bulgaria’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Largest International Customers for Bulgaria’s Exports
The latest available country-specific data shows that 62.2% of products exported from Bulgaria were bought by importers in: Germany (14.0% of the Bulgarian total), Romania (10.1%), Italy (7.5%), Greece (6.5%), Türkiye (5.9%), France (3.3%), Spain (2.6%), Serbia (also 2.6%), Netherlands (2.57%), Belgium (2.54%), Ukraine (2.4%) and Poland (2.2%).
From a continental perspective, more than three-quarters (78.2%) of Bulgaria’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 14% were sold to importers in Asia.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (4.6%), North America (2.6%), Latin America (0.4%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Bulgaria’s population of 6.8 million people, its total $50.3 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $7,400 for every resident in the Southeast European nation. That dollar metric exceeds the average $6,100 per person one year earlier during 2021.
Bulgaria’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Bulgarian global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Bulgaria.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$6.1 billion (12.2% of total exports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $4.6 billion (9.2%)
- Copper: $4.2 billion (8.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $3.7 billion (7.4%)
- Cereals: $2 billion (3.9%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $1.8 billion (3.7%)
- Vehicles: $1.59 billion (3.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.59 billion (3.2%)
- Other chemical goods: $1.46 billion (2.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $1.2 billion (2.4%)
Bulgaria’s top 10 exports accounted for 56.4% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 146.7% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving Bulgarian export sales was animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes via a 118% advance.
Bulgaria’s shipments of miscellaneous chemical goods posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 36.5%.
The lone decliner among Bulgaria’s top 10 export categories was cereals, thanks to a -0.03% year-over-year drop in international sales.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code, Bulgaria’s most valuable export products are processed petroleum oils (7.9% of the Bulgarian total). Following that is sunflower, safflower or cotton-seed oil (3.3%), refined copper plus unwrought alloys (3.2%), wheat (2.9%), unrefined copper (2.8%), biodiesel (2.6%), medication mixes in dosage (2.1%), electric energy (2%), petroleum gases (1.7%), then sunflower seeds (1.4%).
Products Generating Bulgaria’s Largest Trade Surpluses
The following types of Bulgarian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Copper: US$2.9 billion (Up by 10.3% since 2021)
- Cereals: $1.8 billion (Down by -4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $915.2 million (Up by 85.7%)
- Glass: $562.3 million (Up by 34.7%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $365.4 million (Up by 32%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $287 million (Down by -5.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $224.9 million (Down by -28.3%)
- Zinc: $223.2 million (Up by 17.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $214.5 million (Down by -37.4%)
- Toys, games: $139.5 million (Up by 53.6%)
Bulgaria has positive net exports in the international trade of copper. In turn, these cashflows indicate Bulgaria’s strong competitive advantages under the copper product category.
Products Causing Bulgaria’s Worst Trade Deficits
Bulgaria incurred an overall trade deficit of -$7.8 billion during 2022, expanding by 56% from -$5 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2021.
Below are exports from Bulgaria that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Bulgaria’s goods trail Bulgarian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$3.7 billion (Up by 29.7% since 2021)
- Vehicles: -$2 billion (Up by 42.6%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$1.61 billion (Up by 37.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.56 billion (Up by 112.6%)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.4 billion (Up by 19.1%)
- Iron, steel: -$1.2 billion (Up by 39.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$883.3 million (Up by 0.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$734.7 million (Down by -19.6%)
- Paper, paper items: -$447.5 million (Up by 45.7%)
- Meat: -$289.1 million (Down by -4.9%)
Bulgaria has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related goods, notably crude oil, petroleum gas and coal.
Bulgarian Export Companies
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Bulgaria’s total exported goods represent 24.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($205.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 24.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 23.5% for 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Bulgaria’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Bulgaria’s unemployment rate averaged 4.32% for 2022, up from an average 5.346% one year earlier in 2021 according to statistics from the International Monetary Fund.
Bulgaria’s capital city is Sofia.
See also Bulgaria’s Top Trading Partners, Germany’s Top Trading Partners, Romania’s Top Trading Partners and Italy’s Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Europe: Bulgaria. Accessed on June 4, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 4, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on June 4, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 4, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 4, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 4, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 4, 2023
Wikipedia, Bulgaria. Accessed on June 4, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bulgaria. Accessed on June 4, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 4, 2023