The European Commission said in its winter economic forecast on February 13 that it expected Bulgaria’s economy to grow by 1.4 per cent this year, raising its earlier estimate of 1.1 per cent in the autumn forecast.
At the same time, the Commission raised its economic growth estimate for 2022 to 3.9 per cent (from 3.1 per cent) and the forecast for 2024 to 2.5 per cent (from 2.4 per cent).
Bulgaria is set to issue a gross domestic product flash estimate for 2022 on February 14 and release preliminary GDP figures in the first week of March.
The EC attributed the higher economic growth in 2022 to strong exports and the “wage and social transfer increases that compensated for increasing consumer prices.”
“Rapid export growth in 2022 was underpinned by the possibility to satisfy supply shortages of food, metal and other materials products, caused inter alia by the Russia war of aggression against Ukraine,” the EC said.
However, export growth was forecast to slow down “considerably” in 2023, “given that the factors for further gains in export market share were largely exhausted in 2022.” Furthermore, potential delays to the absorption of EU funds under the Recovery and Resilience Plan put investment growth at risk, the Commission’s forecast said.
The EC’s winter forecast projected Bulgaria’s economic growth to outpace that in the euro zone and the EU as a whole in 2023, which are estimated to grow by 0.9 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively. In 2024, the Commission’s forecast projected 1.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent growth in the euro zone and the EU27, respectively.
However, inflation in Bulgaria was also expected to be higher. The EC forecast an average harmonised inflation of 7.8 per cent in 2023 (compared to 5.6 per cent in the euro zone and 6.4 per cent in the EU27) and four per cent in 2024 (compared to 2.5 per cent in the euro area and 2.8 per cent in the EU27).
The figures indicated that Bulgaria would struggle to meet the inflation criterion for joining the euro zone, with Bulgaria currently aiming for 2024 as an accession date.
(Photo: Steve Ford/sxc.hu)
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