Oil price slump helps Bulgaria achieve first monthly foreign trade surplus in two years

By bne IntelliNews October 12, 2015

Bulgaria recorded in August its first monthly foreign trade surplus in two years thanks to a substantial drop in imports, which probably reflected the sharp drop in oil prices during the month, statistics office data showed. The surplus (FOB/FOB) was BGN176.8mn (€90.4mn), following a deficit of BGN320.6mn in July. The previous monthly surplus was BGN210.9mn, recorded in August 2013, which reversed to a shortfall of BGN200.6mn in August 2014. 

After rising 7.8% y/y in July, imports slid 10.4% y/y to BGN3.6bn in August, as imports from third countries plunged 21.4% y/y to BGN1.3bn and imports from the EU shrank 2.1% y/y to BGN2.2bn. Imports of mineral fuels and oils, which account for about a third of the total imports from third countrues, dropped 43% y/y to BGN492mn in August.

Bulgaria's exports edged down 1% y/y to BGN3.8bn in August, reversing a 2.1% y/y rise in July. Exports to the EU rose 6.7% y/y to BGN2.5bn, whereas exports to non-EU countries (third countries) dropped 12.8% y/y to BGN1.3bn.

Bulgaria's current account surplus expanded by 52% y/y to €675.6mn in January-July, mainly reflecting a 28% narrowing of the trade deficit to €1.14bn. A potential further tightening of the trade gap will thus help the country strengthen further its external positions at a time when its foreign debt has surged and global financial markets remain highly volatile.

For the first eight months of the year, the foreign trade shortfall was BGN1.5bn, down 46.3% y/y. The gap is equal to 1.8% of the projected 2015 GDP.

Exports increased 8% y/y to BGN30.3bn in January-August, whereas imports grew 3.2% y/y to BGN31.7bn. Sales to the EU rose 9.7% y/y to BGN19.2bn and exports to non-EU countries went up 5.3% y/y to BGN11bn.

Imports from the EU climbed 7% y/y to BGN20.1bn, whereas imports from third countries fell 2.8% y/y to BGN11.6bn, with imports of mineral fuels and oils down 17.1% y/y to BGN4.6bn.

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