Bulgaria's foreign trade deficit increased 25.8% y/y to BGN4.2bn (€2.1bn) in January-September, preliminary statistics office data showed. The trade gap equalled 5.3% of the 2014 GDP projection, up by 1pps compared to a year ago.
Exports (FOB), which have been consistently below their prior-year level, fell 2.1% y/y to BGN31.8bn in January-September. Sales to non-EU countries (third countries) shrank 8% y/y to BGN11.9bn, whereas exports to the EU rose 1.9% y/y to BGN19.9bn.
The annual decline in exports can be largely attributed to the lower sales of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials to third countries, which dropped 16.6% y/y to BGN3.2bn. In addition, sales of crude materials, fuels excluded, to third countries, plunged 29.9% y/y to BGN936.4mn and those of food and live animals fell 11.3% y/y to BGN1.06bn.
Exports to Turkey, which absorbed the biggest share of all the goods Bulgaria sold to non-residents (25%), decreased by 3.5% y/y to BGN3bn.
Bulgaria imported (FOB) BGN36bn worth of goods in the first nine months of the year, up 0.5% y/y. Imports from the EU rose 2.7% y/y to BGN21.9bn, while imports from third countries fell 2.8% y/y to BGN14.1bn. Russia was the main source of Bulgaria's non-EU imports with a 40% share, trailed by Turkey with 14.6%.
Bulgaria's position as a net importer of goods is expected to drag down economic growth this year. The country's GDP rose 1.6% y/y in Q2, but is likely to average 1.2% for the full-2014, according to the European Commission. However, the EC predicts that exports are set to resume growing at a moderate pace in the next couple of years and the contribution of net trade to overall economic growth is projected to turn positive in 2015.
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