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Country Forecast Bulgaria September 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Bulgaria September 2017 Updater

  • September 2017
  • ID: 1698287
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • After six months of political turbulence, prompted by the previous government's resignation in November 2016, the formation of a new centre-right ruling coalition in May has ushered in a period of greater calm. The new government is led, once again, by Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (CEDB), and it also includes the United Patriots (UP), comprising the nationalist Patriotic Front (PF) and the ultra-nationalist Ataka (Attack) party.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects that the government's focus on the tasks associated with Bulgaria's presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2018 will result in a stable government over the next year. However, tensions between the CEDB and the nationalists are likely to emerge afterwards, and we forecast that the government will not serve out its full four-year term.
  • We expect the new government to continue its predecessor's policies of fiscal consolidation, infrastructure development and promoting growth, but the nationalists in its ranks will seek to boost state control over the economy.
  • The authorities will not jeopardise the policy anchor provided by the currency board. Bulgaria is committed to adopting the euro, but entry to the EU's exchange-rate mechanism (ERM II) will not take place until the threat of a renewed euro zone debt crisis disappears.
  • The previous CEDB-led government made good progress in fiscal consolidation, and in 2016 the budget posted a surplus equivalent to 1.6% of GDP. We forecast that, owing to election pledges of additional spending, the budget will return to deficit in 2017 before fiscal tightening resumes in 2018, producing a budget surplus in 2019-21.
  • We forecast that real GDP growth will remain largely steady in 2017-18, at an average of 3.5% per year, before slowing to an average of 2.8% per year in 2019-21 as domestic and external demand increases only modestly and the population continues to decline. Downside risks include uncertainty in the medium term about Greece's continued euro zone membership.
  • We forecast that after a third successive year of deflation, inflation will return in 2017, at 1.9%, and average 2.5% per year in 2018-21 as wage costs rise in a tight labour market.
  • The current-account surplus, which was equivalent to 4.2% of GDP in 2016, is forecast to decline to an average of 1.7% of GDP in 2017-20 as import demand picks up, before returning to a small deficit in 2021.

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