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An understanding of the Bulgarian market has to start with a short history lesson. It has existed for more than 13 centuries, and maintains traces of all its past inhabitants in its rich culture. It became a People's Republic of the Soviet Union after World War II, and transitioned to democracy and a market economy with the collapse of communism in 1991. That transition was not easy but the country pressed ahead with market reforms designed to meet European Union economic targets. Bulgaria signed an EU accession treaty in April 2005 and joined in 2007.
Now, having weathered the fall of communism and the global economic downturn, Bulgaria's economy is poised to grow. In fact, Bulgaria was the first European country to be upgraded by Moody's Investors Service since January 2010. The ratings company said the upgrade reflects the country's successful fiscal consolidation, improving institutional framework, and "very effective" management of its currency board.
The World Bank has also made a strong commitment to support Bulgaria. It brings global financial knowledge that opens options to a country committed to maintaining and exceeding EU standards. Many World Bank committees have converged to reinforce the strength of the Bulgarian economy, such as Revenue Administration, Property Registration, Social Investment and Employment Production, and Analytic and Advisory Activities.
In conjunction with outside support, the government has undertaken critical infrastructure projects to speed the economy's growth. One is a revamping of transport in the capital city of Sofia, including new trolleybuses, smart streetlights and tram lines, and the repair of critical intersections. Citizens will enjoy improved mobility within the city, and enable more residents of outlying districts to access the city's center.
Another project, which is part of a major upgrade to the entire region, is a Romania-Bulgaria-Greece "Dream Road" that will be part of the Pan-European Transport Corridor. A key part of these plans has been one of the country's most talked-about infrastructure project for the past two decades: the construction of a tunnel under the Shipka Pass in the Balkan Mountains, which will augment the commercial links made possible by the "Dream Road."
Bulgaria's future is also tied to the booming telecom market, which has tremendous potential in the development of mobile and broadband technology. Other growing industrial markets include electronics, refined petroleum fuels, vehicle components, weapons, and construction materials. Bulgaria also ranks as one of the top world producers of barley, anise, sunflower seeds, raspberries, tobacco, chili peppers, and flax fiber. In 2011, the wheat harvest was robust enough for the country to export a surplus of 2 million metric tons.
The resorts and spas dotting the picturesque Black Sea coastline, along with the beautiful capital city of Sofia, makes tourism a mainstay of the Bulgarian economy. And its geographic position — at the crossroads of Middle European forest, Eurasian steppe, and the Mediterranean — yields rich mineral deposits, including iron, copper, gold, bismuth, and coal.
There is one agricultural export that makes up 2% of the Bulgarian economy yet is a unique part of Bulgaria's ancient heritage: rose oil. Bulgaria has been the world's biggest producer of rose oil for centuries. The harvest inspires a joyous festival featuring time-honored celebrations — while creating jobs for thousands of Bulgarians. The timeless traditions, combined with the immeasurable influence on tourism, make rose oil a perfect symbol of Bulgaria's old and new combining to strengthen the future.
With support from the European Union and the World Bank, this historic and diverse country is on its way to a leading position in the EU and the global economy. Boyden's strong roots in the area — combined with its global connections — make it another key to the emergence of Bulgaria as a leader in the EU and the global economy.
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