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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 19,859 15,608 13,600 69
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,130 1,790 1,650 106
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Bulgaria






Georgi Purvanov

Private sector
% of GDP

Update No: 096 - (26/04/05)

Monarch at bay
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, the country's former king, said on April 15th that his priority was to take his country into the European Union and not to claim back his throne. He lost his throne in 1944, when he was five years old, under circumstances for which he can hardly be blamed.
For five decades he was a successful businessman in Madrid. Then came the collapse of communism and his chance to influence his country's destiny once again.
His National Movement for Bulgaria won elections in March 2001; it formed a government with the support of a pro-Turkish minority party.
But being in power in a post-communist state is decidedly problematic, to say the least. He had rashly promised a doubling of living standards in five years, the life-time of the parliament. Elections are due next year in 2006; and of course the miracle has not happened.

EU entry beckons in 2007
Bulgaria's Cabinet has approved the draft on Bulgaria's EU Accession Treaty, governmental spokesman Dimitar Tsonev announced.
By approving the draft it entitled Saxe-Coburg, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and Euro-integration Minister Meglena Kuneva to sign all pre accession documents and the Accession Treaty. The Cabinet also decided to invite President Parvanov to join the official signing.
The Bulgarian delegation also included Bulgaria's Ambassador to the European Union, the country's envoys to Belgium and Luxembourg as well as the governmental spokesman. The European Parliament has approved the admission of Bulgaria to the European Union, paving the way for the signature of EU accession treaty later.
On March 30, MEPs in the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee gave their backing to Bucharest and Sofia's accession in 2007. Accession negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania were completed on 17th December 2004 and Treaty of Accession is now finalised.
Romania and Bulgaria's target date for EU entry is January 1st 2007, but Brussels has repeatedly stressed that accession will be delayed by a year if both countries cannot prove that reforms promised during negotiations are up to scratch.

Bulgaria and Romania sign accession deal
Bulgaria and Romania took their last step on the road to EU accession with the signature of their Accession Treaties on April 25th. Full membership of the club will follow on 1 January 2007, if the countries live up to their reform promises.
The entry of the two former communist states will add some 30 million citizens to the EU's current 454 million, and extend the Union's borders to Moldova and the Black Sea. 
According to the treaties, Romania will receive more than 11 billion euro in EU aid between 2007 and 2009, while more than 4 billion euro are to be put aside for Bulgaria, the smaller of the two countries.
Practically, the signature of the treaties which specify the terms of membership, will mean that Bulgarian and Romanian officials will be allowed to take part in EU meetings as observers, but will have no voting powers.
The signing of the Accession treaties follows the green light given recently by the European Parliament. On 13 April MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of both countries' accessions. However, they underlined Bulgaria and Romania still had work to do before 1 January 2007.

The Damocles sword - safeguard clause
Both countries must still complete the reform of their judiciary system and push harder in the fight against corruption. 
Bulgaria has to carry on with reform of its police services, as well as the integration of its Roma minorities into mainstream society. Romania, on the other hand, has to improve its border security and work harder on administration reforms, environment issues and the integration of its minorities.
If the EU notices feet-dragging by either of the countries, membership may be delayed by a year, by activation of the so-called safeguard clause.
And Romania has an additional safeguard clause in its contract, saying membership will be postponed if progress in the fields of justice and home affairs, and competition policy is insufficient.
The European Commission has repeated often that the signing of the Accession Treaties does not mean that the work is complete.
Recently, the European Parliament agreed with the Commission that MEPs should also remain involved in the accession process of the two countries, particularly concerning the question of a possible postponement of membership.
"The European Commission will seriously consider European Parliament's view before issuing any recommendations", Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

Poor, but working on it 
Bulgaria and Romania both overcame communism in 1989 and struggled with the transition to capitalism through the 1990s. The countries are poor by European standards with a per capita GDP of less than 3000 euro, which is below 40 percent of the EU average. 
Latvia, the poorest of the ten newest member states, has a GDP of 4800 euro while Germany has one of over 26,000 euro.
But the EU accession process, supported by the majority of both countries' populations, is irreversible and has already made a huge difference. Amongst other things, the countries have stabilised their economies and initiated many reforms of state and social institutions.
The countries have showed important economic growth with Bulgaria's economy growing by an average of 5-6 per cent annually and Romania registering a record 8.3 per cent GDP growth in 2004.

Hope for the Western Balkans?
If Bulgaria and Romania complete the implementation of their reforms and become respectively the EU's second and third Balkan state in 2007, their accession will also give hope to the Western Balkans.
Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia are currently launching their EU accession processes while Croatia is set to open talks at a later point this year. 
Bulgaria and Romania started membership talks in 2000 and completed them in December 2004. However, the debate on whether or not the countries should join the EU still continues at the national level in some of the member states.

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Bulgaria to develop software for BMW

Bavarian State Minister of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology, Otto Wiesheu, leading a 30-member delegation including entrepreneurs from the German province Bavaria, visited Bulgaria recently. During a meeting with Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister, Nikolay Vassilev, Wiesheu said Bavarian IT contractors ere interested in Bulgarian enterprises, Sofia News Agency reported. 
Vassilev started discussions with major branch companies for the implementation of projects in Bulgaria. The company that develops software for BMW, Softlab, which is 100 per cent property of BMW, intends to start a business with Bulgarian IT experts. In Bulgaria Softlab declared an interest in developing software for BMW with Bulgarian IT specialists. Vassilev and Wiesheu shared mutual content with the fruitful cooperation between Bulgaria and Siemens. The German engineering giant recently provided 25 ultra-modern diesel trains for the Bulgarian state railway network.

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Bulgaria increase electricity export

National Electricity Transmission Company (NETC) exported 30% more energy in January-March compared to the same period of 2004, the company's CEO, Vassil Anastasov, said at a news conference, Sofia News Agency reported.
Revenue increased by 54m Bulgarian levs while expenses went down by 16m levs for 2004, compared to 2003. The Bulgarian energy system faced a difficult time between February 17 and 23, when 7,720m watt were needed to cover domestic demand and exports, Anastasov said that such a situation had not existed since 1999. He added that the decommissioning of units three and four of Kozloduy nuclear power plant in 2006 will affect the electricity exports but not the domestic supplies.

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Sofia and Tokyo eye better business relations

Bulgarian Economy Minister, Milko Kovachev, said his country has provided excellent opportunities for Japanese direct investment in environmental equipment production and technology development, the Bulgarian News Agency reported.
The country can attract such investment with its experience in mechanical engineering and its qualified personnel and even urged Ebara to outsource to Bulgaria, he was quoted as saying.
Under an agreement between Kovachev and Ebara Corporation Chairman Hiroyuki Fujimura, it was decided that Japanese experts would conduct research on the use of biomass in Bulgaria to produce biofuel, plastics and electricity. Ebara is the global leader in environmental engineering, and Fujimura co-chairs the Japanese-Bulgarian Economic committee.
Kovachev also met the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) President, Hiroshi Tsukamoto. During the meeting, both sides agreed that information technologies (IT) are a promising area of economic cooperation between their countries. Hachiro Okonogi, senior vice minister of economy, trade and industry, told Kovachev that the Bulgarian private sector needs to be more aggressive and should extend its presence on the Japanese market.
Kovachev said Bulgaria is popular in Japan for such traditional products as yoghurt, wine, and rose oil but Japanese companies should also invest in other sectors of the Bulgarian economy, such as electronics, mechanical engineering, auto-making, the IT industry, energy and tourism.
Okonogi praised Bulgaria for its choice of exhibits for World Expo 2005 in Aichi: honey, yoghurt, wine, herbs, mineral water and rose industry products. He recalled that after the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, Bulgarian yoghurt entered the Japanese market.
Kovachev also conducted talks with Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Committee on Europe at the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren). During the meeting it was announced that a delegation of Keidanren members operating in the chemical industry, the IT sector, mechanical engineering and tourism would visit Bulgaria in May.
The Bulgaria Invest Agency in Sofia and JETRO will organise a visit by Japanese businesspersons to Bulgaria within the coming months.

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Sofia and Prague push for better tourism ties

Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are expected to sign an agreement for cooperation in the tourism sector by the end of May, Bulgarian Deputy Economy Minister, Dimiter Hadhinkolov, said recently. Hadjinikolov also met Ivana Hanacikova, director of tourism at the Czech Ministry of Regional Development in Prague.
It was also decided by both countries that a Bulgairan-Czech working meeting would also be held at the end of May to exchange know-how on the use of European Union structural funds and the drawing up of projects in tourism.
The Czech Republic has traditionally been a serious market for Bulgarian tourism. The number of Czech tourists to Bulgaria has consistently grown in the last three years and is projected to increase by 30 per cent this year, Czech tour operators told Hadjinikolov over a working breakfast at the Bulgarian embassy in Prague, which was also attended by the Executive Director of Bulgaria's Tourism Agency, Bisser Yalumov.
In 2004 Bulgaria was visited by 102,000 Czech tourists, up 30.17 per cent on the previous year. Bulgaria is regaining its position as a popular destination preferred by Czech holiday-makers. The sides decided that at the Prague exhibition in 2006 Bulgaria would double the area of its section.
Bulgarian Ambassador Martin Tomov claimed that his country is emerging as the second most important Balkan partner to the Czech Republic after Turkey, surpassing Croatia, Romania and Greece. Major Czech tour operators, including Cedok and Alexandria, plan to invest heavily in the Bulgarian summer resorts Primorsko and Tsarevo. It was reported that this year 15 Czech tour operators are to promote country's top destinations.
Bulgaria also participated for the seventh time in the international tourism expo Holiday World, in February, in the Czech Republic's capital. Holiday World has been known as one of the best tourism events in Central Europe for image presentation of destination, reports said.
Bulgaria would be presented by Nessebar municipality, the national flag carrier Bulgaria Air, Sunny Beach Union of Owners, Albena, Astral Holidays and the Czech tour operators Alexandria and Vicomte.

Tourism agencies to lure more Germans to Bulgaria

Bulgarian tourist agents expect the annual flow of German tourists to Bulgaria to increase by 5% this year, Bulgarian Deputy economy Minister, Dimiter Hadhinkolov, said, the Bulgarian News Agency reported.
This matter was discussed at the Bulgarian embassy in Berlin in the light of the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) which opened in the German capital on March 11th.
Hadhinkolov said his country is implementing a new policy to encourage Germans to continue visiting Bulgaria in large numbers, as in 2004. The head of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW), Klaus Laepple, recently announced that construction work at Bulgarian Black Sea resorts may lead to inconveniences which can be a cause of decline in German bookings.
Chilova met with the Bulgarian Ambassador in Berlin, Meglena Plougchieva, to discuss the planned move of the Bulgarian Cultural Institute into the embassy premises. After the meeting, Plougchieva said the move would allow the Bulgarian authorities to save on rents, which will make more money available for cultural activities. Chilova said an initiative is being considered to appoint tourist attachés to work at Bulgarian cultural centres abroad. ITB Berlin projects a modern image of Bulgaria as the country is advertised as a year-round tourist destination offering a full range of holiday services, said Tourism Agency Director, Bisser Yalumov.
There are also plans to set up call-centres at Bulgarian cultural offices abroad to provide tourist information about Bulgaria.

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