Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/21/2014 -- Political instability in Bulgaria will continue to stifle private consumption and investment, weighing on headline growth through 2014 and proving detrimental to the country's freight industry. Despite government expenditures and a positive contribution from net exports propping up economic activity, real GDP growth will reach just 0.5% and 1.5% in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
The effect of political instability in Bulgaria is evident in Q2 2013 data, with weak investment and private consumption leading to the first year-on-year (y-o-y) contraction of real GDP since 2010. The mass protest movement that spurred early elections has largely subsided, though demonstrations are ongoing and antigovernment sentiment remains pervasive. While a measured rebound in consumer and business sentiment should take hold in the remainder of H213 and build momentum behind economic activity heading into 2014, lingering unrest and uncertainty will contribute to subdued headline GDP growth readings for several more quarters.
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A slowdown in domestic economic activity and foreign capital inflows is expediting a rebalancing of Bulgaria's external accounts, with the current account set to post a surplus of 0.4% of and 0.7% of GDP in 2013 and 2014 respectively, before narrowing gradually over the long term. Although we caution that a return to deficit could materialise in coming years as domestic demand growth accelerates and cross-border investment flows pick up, the limited potential for sizeable financial account surpluses implies that any future current account shortfalls will remain at relatively low levels. This will preclude a return to the massive external imbalances seen before the onset of the global financial crisis.
While 2014 is not set to be a remarkable year for Bulgaria's freight industry, the large contractions in growth that peppered the latter years of the '00s and the early '10s look to be a thing of the past, which is welcome news going into the midterm.
Headline Industry Data
- 2014 tonnage throughput at the Port of Varna is forecast to grow by 5.32% to 11.22mn tonnes.
- 2014 air freight tonnage forecast to grow by 1.54% to reach 18,530 tonnes.
- 2014 rail freight tonnage forecast to increase by 2.90% to hit 12.32mn tonnes.
- 2014 road freight tonnage forecast to rise by 3.51% to reach 149.55mn tonnes
- 2014 total trade (real terms) forecast to rise 5.47%.
Key Industry Trends
Bulgaria And Turkey Clash Over Border Checks - Bulgarian and Turkish authorities have clashed over Turkey's decision to extend border checks on incoming vehicles, reported the Handy Shipping Guide in May 2013. More stringent Turkish border controls caused a large backlog of trucks at the Kapitan Andreevo crossing. Turkey is allegedly unhappy that 80% of road freight between the two countries is being undertaken by Bulgarian vehicles.
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