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Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/25/2013 -- Slower Growth As Politics Remain Uncertain
Political upheavals continue to overshadow the Bulgarian economy. Widespread unrest broke out in February this year over rising electricity bills, falling standards of living, and corruption. They eventually led to the collapse of a centre-right coalition government, new elections in May, and its replacement as a result of the polls by a centre-left coalition, which has faced its own waves of protest in June and July. We think the current government of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, who is heading a coalition of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the ethnic Turkish movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), is also looking quite shaky. While it has begun to increase public spending it does not otherwise seem to have a clear roadmap for dealing with public grievances. It too may not last its full term in office.
Largely because of this heightened political risk and poor recent economic data (Q113 GDP growth of 0.4%) we have kept our forecast for economic expansion this year to 0.5%, rising to 1.5% in 2014. Within this downbeat scenario, we think domestic consumption will probably make the biggest contribution to growth, with a modest improvement in the labour market combining with low inflation and helping to strengthen purchasing power. On the fiscal side, government spending will rise, but we believe this will be relatively restrained. Investment will be somewhat held in check by political risk, but we think investment fundamentals are solid and will lead to an upturn on the medium term. The overall picture is that despite the messy short-term politics the Bulgarian economy is likely to emerge from the current downturn reasonably well on a two-three year time scale.
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We continue to expect positive growth in tonnage and box throughput in the Port of Varna this year, both at above-GDP levels. Over the medium term plans to concession the port's container operations offer upside risk. But we highlight that there has not yet been any interest and the country's privatisation drive is instead centred on concessioning ports on Bulgaria's part of the Danube River.
Headline Industry Data
- 2013 Port of Varna tonnage throughput forecast to grow 7.7%; over the medium term (to 2017) we project an average annual increase of 6.1%.
- 2013 Port of Varna container throughput forecast to grow 5.6%; over the medium term we project a 5.7% average annual increase.
- 2013 total trade growth forecast at 5.0%.
Key Industry Trends
Better Traffic Controls At Burgas and Varna
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