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Country Forecast Bulgaria October 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Bulgaria October 2017 Updater

  • October 2017
  • ID: 325627
  • 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 nine months. However, tensions between the CEDB and the nationalists are likely to emerge afterwards, and we do not expect the government to serve out its 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, in 2017 the budget will return to a deficit, estimated at 1.4% of GDP, before fiscal tightening resumes in 2018, producing budget surpluses in 2020-22.
  • We forecast that real GDP growth will edge down, from an estimated 3.7% in 2017 to an average of 3.2% per year in 2018-19, before slowing to an average of 2.7% in 2020-22 as domestic and external demand increases more modestly and the population continues to decline. Downside risks include uncertainty in the medium term about Greece's continued euro zone membership.
  • We expect that after three successive years of deflation, average inflation will return in 2017, at an estimated 1.8%, and subsequently annual inflation will average 2.5% per year in 2018-22 as wage costs rise in a tight labour market.
  • We forecast that the current-account surplus, equivalent to an estimated 2.9% of GDP in 2017, will decline to an average of 1.5% per year in 2018-20, as import demand picks up, before swinging back into a small deficit in 2021-22.

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