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Bulgarian Economy

The first steps made by Bulgarian economy in the modern sense of the word date back to the beginning of the 19th century when Bulgaria became famous for its agricultural production. In the beginning of the 20th century the country was one of the biggest exporters of early vegetables, fruit, milk, cheese, butter and meat in Europe. Up to the middle of the 20th century Bulgaria was considered a typically agrarian country.

The development of the industrial production and the manufacture date back to the first third of the 19th century. The factories in Sliven, Gabrovo, Veliko Turnovo and Stara Zagora, the development of crafts in these towns and in many others near the Balkan Mountains, gained good markets for Bulgaria and made it popular among the partners from the east and the west.

The national industry advanced at a moderate pace till the middle of the 20th century when the government decided to turn the country into an industrial giant on the Balkans. This strategy was successful to a certain extent but it was at the expense of significant investments and a number of mistakes, connected with the lack of sufficient natural resources. The basic doctrine of the government was to increase the number of the working class, which implied opening of new enterprizes, construction of new factories and works, power plants, industrial enterprises and dams. The volunteer brigades of school children, soldiers and university students contributed as a free work resource. At that time Bulgarian economy was bound with the economy of the USSR and the socialist countries through participation in COMECON and that gave impetus to certain branches of the national industry and revived the trade between those countries. On the other hand, Bulgaria did not have a choice and could not apply the principles of marketing and competition to the import and export of goods because of the lack of alternative trade partners.

Today Bulgaria is looking again for partners and markets. The collapse of planned economy and the introduction of the free market economy and competition caught the Bulgarian producers unprepared. A lot of companies went bankrupt. Privatisation is still in progress. There were no preferential laws until recently to give impetus to local production. There were not enough tax and customs preferences to make Bulgarian producer assure prime quality and expand production. The foreign investments soon after November 10, 1989 clashed against walls of old decrees and regulations that deterred potential investors.

The country has been in a situation of a currency board since 1997 tying the national currency to the DEM, and since 1st January 2002 to the Euro. This stabilised the Bulgarian Lev, put an end to the financial chaos and devaluation, and restored the hope of the people for realistic and stable savings and investments. The Parliament passed a packet of laws, which helped for modernisation of legislation and revival the production. The restitution of land and other real estate property as well as the privatisation advancing at full speed gave Bulgarians a chance to work and earn from their labour. There is a nation-wide opposition to the industrial racketeering, the disloyal competition, the production and distribution of low quality products and the piracy in the industrial and intellectual sphere. A reform in the field of banking is still to be imlplemented because of the emergence of a great number of banks and their bankruptcy at the expense of their clients. The financial, industrial and insurance companies and groups are also fought against because of the unfair deals, concealing of taxes, etc.

Today Bulgaria exports mainly agricultural products, electrics transporters, electricity and non-ferrous metals. It is especially famous for its yogourt and dairy products as well as oil-yielding roses, flowers and a variety of wines and brandies. The country imports various technical equipment, computers, audio and video equipment, electric appliances and household ware, ready-made clothes and raw materials.

Tourism, which used to be an emblematic feature of the countrys economy, is also successfully developing. Tourist establishments are to be totally privatised, modernised and renovated so that a better image and promotion of Bulgaria is achieved through it. Bulgaria possesses an incredible amount of natural resources which, with a little effort, better organisation and loyalty, could be turned into attractive centres for tourists and sportemen from all over the world. Many tourist companies have already met the world standards and attract their own guests to Bulgaria.

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