Bulgaria’s economy grew by 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of the year, according to preliminary data announced by the National Statistical Institute (NSI) on June 8. The figure was in line with NSI’s flash estimate released last month.
Compared to the same period of 2020, Bulgaria’s economy shrank by 1.8 per cent in the first quarter. In real terms, gross domestic product (GDP) in January-March was 27.05 billion BGN, or 13.83 billion euro.
NSI made no reference to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted Bulgaria to declare a State of Emergency on March 13 2020, shutting down parts of its economy as it introduced social distancing and anti-epidemic measures.
The State of Emergency remained in force until May 13 2020, when it was followed by the declaration of an epidemic, which has been extended repeatedly and remains in effect. Tighter restrictions introduced in November 2020 to stem the second wave of infections have been largely lifted in recent months.
NSI’s preliminary data showed domestic consumption rose by 2.1 per cent compared to the last quarter of 2020 and was 3.1 per cent higher year-on-year, while gross fixed capital formation was down by two per cent compared to Q4 2020 and 2.1 per cent higher on an annual basis.
Exports in the first quarter were 6.7 per cent up, while imports rose by 2.7 per cent, which resulted in a trade surplus of 150 million leva, or 0.6 per cent of GDP. Compared to the first quarter of last year, exports were down 5.9 per cent and imports were 1.9 per cent higher.
Bulgaria’s Cabinet has set a 2.5 per cent economic growth target this year in the Budget Act macro-economic framework, with NSI data showing GDP declined by 4.2 per cent in 2020. The European Commission’s spring forecast projected that the Bulgarian economy would grow by 3.5 per cent this year.