The export of Bulgarian electric bicycles for the last four years marks a huge increase, which was the case even in the pandemic year of 2020. According to analysis from the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, the e-bike export has risen 8 times in the period from 2017 to 2020 – economic.bg calculated that as 700% increase.
The electric bicycles are in the top 10 leading export goods from Bulgaria and are also some of the stocks with the highest added value. On an annual basis in 2020, the export of bicycles recorded a rate of 186%, which is the highest in the past year of all exports. Following the announced investment in a new factory near Plovdiv by “Maxcom” - one of the largest manufacturers of e-bikes in Bulgaria, which will open in 2023, Bulgaria is expected to climb to number 1 in the production of electric bicycles in the world.
For Europeans the bicycle has really become a safe alternative to travel during the pandemic and Covid is indirectly stimulating the sales of all kinds of bicycles – both electric and ordinary.
According to the analysis of BIA, however, the market for electric bicycles is poorly diversified, which is dangerous, as any disruption in the functioning of the buyer leads to a similar disruption in the work of Bulgarian companies.
The Bulgarian economy as a whole
However, the Bulgarian export before 2020 was strongly affected by the COVID crisis. Despite the fact that Bulgaria won two places in the ranking of the largest exporters in the world (from 60th place in 2019 to 58th before 2020), it’s losing places in the EU. The country is 21st – behind many smaller economies, such as Lithuania and Slovenia.
What are we best at?
The group of products with the largest export are electrical and electronic equipment, honey and honey products, machines and appliances, energy carriers (fuels and electricity). These four groups of goods form 1/3 of the Bulgarian export. The prices increase contributes for copper and copper products to climb to the second position.
After a breakdown, it can be seen that the largest value volume in the export list of Bulgaria is cathode copper (with growth of 19%) and anode copper (27%). The largest users of cathode copper are China – almost 2/3 of exports – and Turkey – 1/3. About 60% of the anode copper goes to Belgium, while the rest goes to Germany. Here can be seen again the great concentration of exports to a small number of markets.
Exported medicine, which represent BGN 1.33 billion in 2020, go to many countries, but mostly to Russia, Germany and Romania. Approximately 90% of the extracted precious metals are for German buyers. Their value for 2020 is about BGN 1.2 billion, 18% growth on an annual basis. Wheat ranks fifth despite the decline compared to 2019 by 25%, with the value of exports amounting to nearly BGN 1.2 billion. These five goods generate almost 14% of exports. Exports of petroleum oils fell by more than 50% and reached a total of BGN 1.8 billion
Leading exports include biodiesel, which is increasingly used in air transport, automotive wiring harnesses, sunflower oil, glass packaging, rubber pipes (brake hoses) and steel products.
After bicycles, the largest annual growth in 2020 was recorded in the export of women’s clothing – by 55%, mobile phone parts – by 43% and concentrates of precious metals – by 39%. Bulgaria is already second in the world market of duck liver, despite a significant decline last year. Bulgarian canned cherries have a 16.4% share of the world market, and brake hoses – 14.1%.
The most important market – Deutschland
The largest market for Bulgarian goods continues to be Germany, where 16% of all Bulgarian exports go, and for 2020 – with a positive trade balance of 1.5 billion, i.e Bulgarian export exceeded the import of German products by that much. In general, in 2020 we have exported goods worth over BGN 1.5 million to 139 countries. Big markets for Bulgarian companies remain Romania, Italy, Greece and Turkey. Bulgaria’s largest negative trade balance is with Russia – BGN 2.8 billion, i.e thus imports from Russia are greater than exports to it. In the pandemic year there was a decrease of over 10% in Bulgaria’s trade with Italy, Turkey, Spain, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine.
Restructuring is difficult
According to the analysis of BIA, the restructuring of exports is slow and still the raw materials and materials for further processing occupy such a share that they do not contribute to the “exit” from the “the poorest country in the EU” category.
“It seems that Bulgaria has lost the momentum of the pre-accession period and the first years after accession and new tools for change are needed,” according to the BIA report.
As a minus the Chamber points out the few Bulgarian developments, as the business rarely orders such from the Bulgarian universities and institutes.