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Bulgaria foreign trade gap shrinks in Q1 2016

Bulgaria foreign trade gap shrinks in Q1 2016
Sofia, May 10, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

Bulgaria's foreign trade gap in the first quarter of this year stood at 892.8 million leva, or 456.5 million euro, shrinking from 1.56 billion leva recorded in the same period of 2015, according to figures released by the National Statistical Institute on May 10.

Exports, calculated in free-on-board (FOB) prices, fell by 1.6 per cent to 10.6 billion leva during Q1, mainly because of a 6.8 per cent drop in March, which offset small growth posted in the previous two months.

Imports, calculated using cost, insurance and freight (CIF) prices, declined at a faster pace of 6.8 per cent and stood at 11.5 billion leva for the first three months of the year.

At FOB/FOB prices (after elimination of transport and insurance costs on imports), the foreign trade balance was also negative in the first quarter and amounted to 169.9 million leva, down from 710.2 million leva in the first three months of 2015.

In the first quarter, exports to non-EU countries recorded a 8.8 per cent decline, while imports (in CIF prices) were down by 19.2 per cent, resulting in a trade gap of 104.9 million leva, down from 625.1 million leva in the same period of 2015.

The main export destinations were Turkey (where Bulgaria's trade surplus fell from 339 million leva in January-March 2015 to 171 million leva in the first quarter of this year), China, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, the US and Russia. The six markets accounted for 50.9 per cent of all Bulgarian exports outside the EU.

In terms of imports, the largest trade partner remains Russia – the main source of energy resources for Bulgaria, but showing a 37.7 per cent decline to 922.9 million leva, reflecting the large drop in commodity prices over the past year – followed by Turkey, China and Ukraine.

Trade with EU countries, meanwhile, grew in the first quarter, as exports rose by 2.5 per cent and imports (in CIF prices) were up by 0.3 per cent.

The statistics institute provided no break-down by country for the first quarter of 2016 (the data will be available next month), but said that in the January-February period, the main destinations of exports from Bulgaria were Germany (up by 1.3 per cent to 934 million leva), Italy, Romania, Greece, France and the UK – which combined to account for a total of 68.3 per cent of total exports to EU countries during the first two months of the year.

In terms of imports (in CIF prices) for the January-February period, the biggest trade partners were once again Germany (down by 7.9 per cent to 987.6 million leva), Italy, Romania, Greece and Spain.

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