Bulgaria Country Report 1Q17 - Q1, 2017

May 2, 2017

This report covers the key economic, financial and political releases for Bulgaria for the period January 1 – April 28.

On April 27, President Rumen Radev handed a mandate to form a government to former and most likely future Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, leader of centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB). Earlier on April 27, GERB signed an agreement with the nationalist United Patriots leaders to form a coalition government.

Borissov now has seven days to propose candidates for the new cabinet.

In the early parliamentary elections held on March 26, GERB won 95 seats in the 240-seat parliament. Its main opponent, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), won 80 seats. The United Patriots came third with 27 MPs, the predominantly ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) won 26 and the centre-right Volya party was last with 12 seats.

Bulgaria’s real GDP growth decelerated to 3.4% in 2016 from 3.6% in 2015.

In the April edition of its World Economic Outlook (WEO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects real GDP growth of 2.9% in Bulgaria in 2017, the same annual change as the one forecast last November. In its winter European Economic Forecast, the European Commission (EC) has maintained unchanged its projections for Bulgaria’s GDP growth in 2017 and 2018 at 2.9% and 2.8% respectively.

Bulgaria’s consumer confidence rose to a 15.5-year high in the three months to January. The overall business climate indicator increased 0.7 points m/m in April, after climbing 2.9 points m/m in March.

Bulgaria's industrial production increased 5% y/y in February, reversing a 1% y/y drop in January. The y/y decline of construction production eased to 0.5% in February from 8% in January. Annual growth of retail sales (at constant prices) slowed down to 3.8% from 4%.

Key points:
• The CPI increased 1.9% y/y in March, after rising 1.7% y/y in February
• Bulgaria reported a consolidated budget surplus of BGN1.6bn (€818.8mn) in the first four months of 2017, equal to 1.6% of projected GDP, preliminary data from the finance ministry showed
• The country reported a current account surplus of €319.3mn in the first two months of 2017, up from a surplus of €87.7mn in the same period of 2016

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