Year over year, the overall value of Bulgarian exports advanced by 31.4% compared to $31.9 billion during 2020.
The top 5 Bulgarian trading partners for buying Bulgaria’s exported products are Germany, Romania, Italy, Greece and Turkey. Added together, that cohort of 5 major buyers accounted for 45.5% of overall Bulgarian exports by dollar value.
Applying a continental lens, well over three-quarters (78.2%) of Bulgaria’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries well ahead of the 15.5% sold to importers in Asia.
Even smaller percentages went to Africa (3.1%), North America (2.8%), Latin America (0.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean then Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Bulgaria’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 25 of Bulgaria’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Bulgarian shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Bulgarian exports.
- Germany: US$6.3 billion (15% of Bulgaria’s total exports)
- Romania: $4.3 billion (10.2%)
- Italy: $3.2 billion (7.6%)
- Greece: $2.8 billion (6.6%)
- Turkey: $2.6 billion (6.2%)
- France: $1.5 billion (3.7%)
- Belgium: $1.37 billion (3.3%)
- China: $1.35 billion (3.2%)
- Spain: $1.2 billion (2.8%)
- Poland: $1.07 billion (2.5%)
- Netherlands: $1.06 billion (2.5%)
- Austria: $995.6 million (2.4%)
- United States: $963.1 million (2.3%)
- Serbia: $924.6 million (2.2%)
- Czech Republic: $923.9 million (2.2%)
- Hungary: $775.2 million (1.8%)
- United Kingdom: $769.1 million (1.8%)
- North Macedonia: $584.9 million (1.4%)
- Russia: $525.4 million (1.3%)
- Ukraine: $492.1 million (1.2%)
- Denmark: $400.2 million (1%)
- Croatia: $394.9 million (0.9%)
- Slovakia: $351.1 million (0.8%)
- Sweden: $330.8 million (0.8%)
- Switzerland: $284 million (0.7%)
Well over four-fifths (84.3%) of Bulgarian exports in 2021 were delivered to the above 25 trade partners.
Increasing their consumption of Bulgaria’s exported goods at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021 were Croatia (up 109.5%), Ukraine (up 89.2%), Denmark (up 80.5%), Austria (up 62.5%), Spain (up 51.1%) and the United States of America (up 49.4%).
The slowest percentage advance was the flatlining 1.1% increase for the United Kingdom’s purchases of Bulgarian exports compared to 2020.
Countries Creating Bulgaria’s Largest Trade Deficits
Bulgaria incurred an overall trade deficit of -$5.5 billion during 2021, up 79.9% from -$3.1 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
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 surplus in 2021.)
- China: -$1.2 billion
- Turkey: -$1.1 billion
- Hungary: -$965.1 million
- Netherlands: -$964.9 million
- Poland: -$633.8 million
- Ukraine: -$522.4 million
- Peru: -$381 million
- Chile: -$310.3 million
- Austria: -$262.3 million
Among Bulgaria’s trading partners that generate the greatest negative trade balances, Bulgarian deficits with Turkey (up 164.6%), Chile (up 117.2%) and Russia (up 86%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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.
Countries Generating Bulgaria’s Best Trade Surpluses
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.
- Romania: US$667.9 million (country-specific trade surplus in 2021.)
- United States of America: $616.7 million
- Germany: $468.4 million
- Belgium: $453.9 million
- United Kingdom: $389.5 million
- France: $289.8 million
- Greece: $272.9 million
- Spain: $255.4 million
- Tunisia: $240.3 million
- Denmark: $183.5 million
Among Bulgaria’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Bulgarian surpluses with Denmark (up 251.1%), United States of America (up 218.6%) and Spain (up 168.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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, 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 July 17, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 17, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 17, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 17, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 17, 2022
Wikipedia, Bulgaria. Accessed on July 17, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bulgaria. Accessed on July 17, 2022