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Key Economic Indicators

Setting the scene

The post-Communist period has been more painful for Bulgaria than for any other Eastern European nation, with the possible exception of Romania. The economy shrank by more than ten per cent in 1991, though it has now begun to recover, the banking system is in crisis, inflation stands at an annual 200 per cent, and unemployment at 16 per cent.

Bulgaria has suffered from the sanctions imposed on neighbouring Serbia, preventing it from finding new markets to replace lost Soviet ones: Bulgaria's main trading partner remains Russia, though exports to the European Union (EU) have begun to pick up.

Economic growth has also been hampered by sluggish privatisation under the Socialist Party, which comprises apparatchiks from the Soviet era. The structures and mechanisms of privatisation are in place, but the political will is in doubt. In contrast with the liberal Hungarian or Czech approach, the Government has excluded key sectors and enterprises from the privatisation process on the grounds of 'the national interest'. These include major infrastructure concerns such as the energy sector, transport, public utilities, mining and arms manufacture. Those sectors in which foreign investment is allowed are, with the exception of tourism, tangential (food processing and textiles, for example). The result has been Central Europe's lowest level of investor interest; according to the Foreign Investment Agency, the Government has raised only US$330 million from a total of 962 sales.

Key economic indicators
Capital SOFIA
Area (Sq km) 110, 994
Population (m) 8.6
GDP/Capita (1995) US $ 1, 543
President Pitar Stoianov
Currency lev /: 1US$ 1773.9 (FT 29/05/98)

Ivan Kostov, Prime Minister
Bulgaria: from stabilisation to growth

Mouravey Radev, Minister of Finance
Bulgarian economy

Lubomir Filipov, Governor, Bulgarian National Bank
The Bulgarian banking system in 1996

Bulgarian Stock Exchange
Trading and investment

Vesselin Blagoev, Executive Director, Privatisation Agency
Privatisation opportunities

Ilian Vassilev, President, Foreign Investment Agency
Investment Climate in Bulgaria - August 1997

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