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PROFILE: Bulgaria

Tips for Doing Business in Bulgaria

  • Bulgarians are generally skeptical and direct.

  • Bulgarians prefer to meet business contacts in person.

  • Punctuality is expected but not always observed by Bulgarians.

  • Shake hands at meetings.

  • Dress conservatively - suits for men and fashionable dresses for women.

  • Business cards should be exchanged.

  • Use person's title and surname at first meeting but first names are used after a working relationship has been established. (Best wait for the Bulgarian to suggest the change to informal.)

  • Many businesspeople speak English.

  • People are generally very direct.

  • Nodding means "no" in Bulgaria and shaking one’s head means "yes".

  • Business meetings are often lengthy.

  • Common for business contacts to have lunch or dinner together following their meeting with the foreigner picking up the tab.

  • Smoking is common there even during a meal.

 

Brief History

  • Late 7th Century - Bulgars, a central Asia tribe merged with local Slavic inhabitants to form the first Bulgarian state. For several years, it battled the Byzantine Empire.

  • 14th Century - Overrun by Ottoman Turks.

  • 1878 - Northern Bulgaria attained autonomy.

  • 1908 - All Bulgaria became independent from Ottoman Empire.

  • 1946 - Became part of Soviet bloc.

  • 1990 - Held first multiparty election moving away from Soviet domination.

  • 2004 - Joined NATO.

  • 2007 - Joined the EU.

Location

  • Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and Turkey

 

General Information

  • Government: Parliamentary republic 

  • Capital City: Sofia

  • Literacy Rate: 98.4%

  • Size: Almost the same size as Virginia

  • Population: 6.9 million

  • Population Growth: 0.67% (2021 est.)

  • Population Distribution: Fairly even population distribution throughout most of country 

 

Economy

  • Bulgaria has an open economy with historically strong growth. However, it is still a developing country. It has a broad economic base with a significant manufacturing base, e.g., transportation equipment, iron & steel, and other metals, textiles, software etc., mining e.g., zinc, coal, iron ore etc., and a very diversified agricultural industry with a variety of crops, livestock, dairy and seafood.  Tourism has been growing as well.  

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.9%

  • Currency Exchange Rate: 1US Dollar = 0.88 Euro

  • GDP: US$68.5B (2019)

  • GDP Growth Rate: 3.39% (2019)

  • Labor Force: 3.1M

  • Labor Force Breakdown: Agriculture - 6.8%, Industry - 26.6%, Services - 66.6%

  • Major Industries: metallurgical industries, electronics, machinery & equipment, shipbuilding, petrochemicals, cement, construction, textiles, food and beverages, mining, tourism

 

International Trade

Total Product Exports (2020): $31.8B

Major Product Exports (2020)

  • Electrical machinery & equipment, etc. - 10.7%

  • Copper & copper products - 8.87%

  • Nuclear equipment - 8.16%

  • Mineral fuels etc. - 4.64%

  • Cereals - 4.18%

  • Vehicles - 3.71%

  • Pharmaceuticals - 3.59%

  • Plastics - 3.47%

 

Major Product Export Partners (2020)

  • Germany - 16%, Rumania - 9.2%, Italy - 6.9%, Greece - 6.7%, Turkey - 6.4%, France - 3.9% , Belgium - 3.4%, China - 3.3%, Netherlands - 2.6% , Poland - 2.5%

 

Total Product Imports (2020)

$35B

 

Major Product Imports (2020)

  • Electrical machinery & equipment - 10.1%

  • Nuclear equipment - 9.67%

  • Mineral fuels etc. - 8.5%

  • Ores, slag & ash - 6.19%

  • Vehicles - 6.01%

  • Pharmaceuticals - 4.78%

 

Major Import Partners (2020)

  • Germany - 12%, Rumania - 7.31%, Turkey - 7.09%, Italy - 7.08%, Russia - 6.11%, China - 5.08%

 

English Language Online News Sites

Sampling of Companies

 

National Holidays 2022

  • January 1- New Year`s Day

  • January 3 - New Year`s Day

  • March 3 - Liberation Day

  • March 20 - March Equinox

  • April 22 - Good Friday

  • April 23 - Holy Saturday

  • April 24 - Easter Sunday

  • April 25 - Easter Monday

  • May 1 - Labor Day

  • May 2 - Labor Day Observed

  • May 6 - St. George`s Day

  • May 24 - Cultural Literacy Day

 

By Paul Mastilak

InterMark3, Inc.