Applying a continental lens, 77.8% of Bulgaria’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 15.6% were sold to importers in Asia.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (3.4%), North America (2.6%), 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 2020. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Bulgarian exports.
- Germany: US$5.1 billion (16% of Bulgaria’s total exports)
- Romania: $2.9 billion (9.2%)
- Italy: $2.2 billion (6.9%)
- Greece: $2.1 billion (6.7%)
- Turkey: $2 billion (6.4%)
- France: $1.2 billion (3.9%)
- Belgium: $1.1 billion (3.4%)
- China: $1.1 billion (3.3%)
- Netherlands: $840.9 million (2.6%)
- Poland: $795.7 million (2.5%)
- Spain: $766.5 million (2.4%)
- United Kingdom: $760.4 million (2.4%)
- Czech Republic: $743.4 million (2.3%)
- Serbia: $647.7 million (2%)
- United States: $614.9 million (1.9%)
Over two-thirds (72.1%) of Bulgarian exports in 2020 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Increasing their consumption of Bulgaria’s exported goods at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020 were China (up 15.1%), Belgium (up 13.8%) and Poland (up 10.1%).
Leading the decliners were Serbia (down -18.1%), Turkey (down -16.4%), Spain (down -15.8%) and Italy (down -10.3%).
Bulgaria incurred an overall trade deficit of -$3 billion during 2020, down -21.6% from -$3.9 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$1.7 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2020)
- Hungary: -$816.4 million
- China: -$686.5 million
- Netherlands: -$551.8 million
- Poland: -$504.6 million
- Turkey: -$428.4 million
- Ukraine: -$409.9 million
- Georgia: -$385.3 million
- Austria: -$327.3 million
- Peru: -$296.6 million
Among Bulgaria’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Bulgarian deficits with Turkey (up 2,963%), Peru (up 2,934%) and Georgia (up 164.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
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.
- Germany: US$848.2 million (country-specific trade surplus in 2020.)
- Belgium: $413.8 million
- Greece: $400.6 million
- Romania: $334.6 million
- United Kingdom: $312.2 million
- France: $211.1 million
- North Macedonia: $169.8 million
- United States: $165.2 million
- Namibia: $162.3 million
- Tunisia: $131.3 million
Among Bulgaria’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Bulgarian surpluses with Germany (up 112.4%), Belgium (up 77.6%) and Romania (up 57.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
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 April 2, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 2, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 2, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 2, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 2, 2021
Wikipedia, Bulgaria. Accessed on April 2, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Bulgaria. Accessed on April 2, 2021