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Despite exports drop, Bulgaria records shrinking trade gap in H1 2016

Despite exports drop, Bulgaria records shrinking trade gap in H1 2016
Sofia, August 9, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

Bulgaria’s foreign trade gap in the first half of this year stood at 2.14 billion leva, or 1.1 billion euro, shrinking from 3.07 billion leva recorded in the same period of 2015, according to figures released by the National Statistical Institute on August 9.

Exports, calculated in free-on-board (FOB) prices, fell by 3.2 per cent to 21.7 billion leva in H1, mainly because of the period between March and May, when exports declined by between 5.4 per cent and 6.9 per cent, on an annual basis.

Imports, calculated using cost, insurance and freight (CIF) prices, declined at a faster pace of 6.4 per cent and stood at 23.84 billion leva for the first six 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 half and amounted to 601.2 million leva, down from 1.33 billion leva in the first six months of 2015.

In the first half, exports to non-EU countries recorded a 15.1 per cent decline, while imports (in CIF prices) were down by 16.5 per cent, resulting in a trade gap of 811.9 million leva, down from 1.1 billion leva in the same period of 2015.

The main export destinations were Turkey (where Bulgaria’s trade surplus fell from 613 million leva in January-June 2015 to 393.7 million leva in the first half of this year), China, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Russia and the US. The six markets accounted for 51.2 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 32.7 per cent decline to 1.86 billion 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 half of 2016, as exports rose by 3.8 per cent and offset the 0.2 per cent drop in imports (in CIF prices).

The statistics institute provided no break-down by country for the first half of 2016 (the data will be available next month), but said that in the January-May period, the main destinations of exports from Bulgaria were Germany (up by two per cent to 2.4 billion leva), Italy, Romania, Greece, France and the UK – which combined to account for a total of 69.3 per cent of total exports to EU countries during the first five months of the year.

In terms of imports (in CIF prices) for the January-May period, the biggest trade partners were once again Germany (down by 1.9 per cent to 2.66 billion leva), Italy, Romania, Greece and Hungary.

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