Bulgaria Industry and Commerce
Mining riches. Although there is reason to believe that Bulgaria does not lack mineral resources, their exploitation is very scarce, and is essentially reduced to small quantities of hard coal, lead, zinc, iron and copper. The presence of oil has been reported (in the Kazanlăk and Varna districts), as well as many other minerals (gold, silver, graphite, asphalt, antimony, manganese, uranium, asbestos, alum, etc.), but little or nothing it was done to ascertain the actual consistency of the deposits and their probable return.
The production of coal, increased from 33,000 to about 1 / 2 million tons per year from 1892 to 1928 and due to the 90% to the state mine of Pernik (SW. Sofia), covers the national demand (over 2 / 5 to railways, 1 / 4 in Sofia) with an insignificant surplus exported (less than 10 thousand tons. in the period 1925-9). These are very poor lignites, with a high proportion of incombustible materials, capable of 4500-5200 calories at most, so that it has been proposed to convert them into electricity on site. Other mines are in western Bulgaria (Struma, Osogov) and southern (Rakovski); their potential is currently negligible.
Almost all of the copper comes from the Plakalnica mine (on the middle Iskǎr). Production has fluctuated strongly in recent years: from 35 (1926) to 10 (1928) thousand tons. (almost the pre-war quantity), merged on the spot (Jelisena) and almost all exported to the United States. Lead, which had scored 11,000 tons. in ’26, it dropped to just over 1000 in ’27 and ’28. The production of zinc is insignificant.
The extraction of iron has been done since ancient times, but still in a primordial way, in the Samokov district. Much could be drawn from mineral waters (including thermal ones), which are numerous and varied, but even here we are little more than at the beginning.
Industry. – Although it does not lack favorable conditions for a decent development, the industry still has modest proportions, at least as it does not maintain the form of a small industry or even a domestic industry.
The major industries (according to the Bulgarian law of 1909 this is every company with 10 HP. Of motive power, 10 workers for 6 months, and a mechanical installation of 20,000 levers at least) are (1921 survey) as in the table a footer of page. For Bulgaria business, please check cheeroutdoor.com.
From 1909 to 1921 the capital invested in industries increased by about 180%, the number of workers employed by 70%, production by about 31%. It should be noted, however, that 1921 cannot be considered a year of normal industrial conditions, so the data reported serve more than anything else to outline the development characteristics of the Bulgarian industry. Between ’21 and ’28 the progress, no less remarkable, was possible thanks to a large use (27% of the total) of foreign capital, among which Italian capital (tobacconists and mills) is also represented.
Given the prevailing economy in the country, the industries connected with agriculture and livestock (milling, husking, sugar refinery, leather processing, essences) are those that have the numerical prevalence; but great strides have also been made in the textile industries, and above all in the wool one (39.4% of textiles, while cotton represents 24%, trimmings 16%, silks 8.1% 6.5% carpets, 5% linen), concentrated in Gabrovo (15,000 spindles) Slivno (10,000 spindles), Varna, Sofia, Filippopoli with about seventy factories, over 40,000 spindles and a capital of approximately 700 million of leverage.
The textile industries employ 7747 workers (of whom 5740 women), with a production that in 1926 reached 961 million euros, of which 447 for wool, 350 for cottons. The other branches (even silk) are of much less importance, and the same can be said of the minor industries, such as chemical, metallurgical, wood, paper and electrical industries, all still in the state of infancy.
Commerce. – As in all essentially agricultural countries, the performance of foreign trade depends above all on the harvest. Regardless of the inevitable fluctuations, the statistical data allow us to see a progressive and continuous increase in the figures that express their value (from 115 to 384 million leverage from 1886 to 1911), an increase that after 1920 (2 billion leverage, 4 in 1922, 7 in 1925) shows a comforting recovery in the nation’s economy. The trade balance, which appears to be active only during short and discontinuous periods, has however accentuated its deficit in recent years; it rose to nearly a billion leverage in 1929, despite the government attempting by various measures to decrease the value of imports and at the same time increase that of exports.
These consist mainly of agricultural and livestock products; in order of importance (five-year period 1924-8): cereals, tobacco, food products (eggs), animals (poultry and sheep), skins, fruit and cocoons. On the other hand, Bulgaria largely imports textiles, metals, machines, tools and manufactured goods. Compared with the pre-war period, the importance of the export of cereals has decreased (it was by far predominant in the period 1906-11), while that of tobacco has increased, and thus the export markets have changed (first especially Belgium, Turkey, England, today Germany, Austria, Greece and Italy), such as those of origin for imports (today Germany, Italy, England and Czechoslovakia), the quantity of which tends to decrease, in proportion, while the quality of the goods remains unchanged.
Tobacco accounts for over 30% of exports, while it accounted for just 1.6% in 1910. The main buyers, in addition to Germany which imports 30% alone, are Czechoslovakia, Austria, England., Poland and Italy (6 million kg. in 1925, 2 in 1928). The product is also sought after for its quality by other producing countries.
Among cereals, the first place goes to maize, the second to wheat and the third to barley. Rye and millet come in with much smaller quantities. The maize is mostly directed to Western Europe (including Italy), wheat to Greece and Turkey, barley to Belgium. The value of exported cereals rose in 1928 to 3 billion leva.
Eggs and poultry have so far constituted a considerable resource, as have hides, almost all of which are directed to Germany, Italy and France, and sheep and cattle, whose outlet markets are in Greece and Turkey. The essence of roses (3oo kg. In ’28) is absorbed by France, the cocoons for almost all (99%) by Italy (836 thousand kg. In 1928).
As for imports, the products of the textile industry (2.6 billion leva in 1928) were supplied for the most part by France, Germany, England, and Belgium as regards the woolen industry. For cotton, hemp and linen, Italy, which occupies the first place, has increasingly consolidated its position (99% of raw cotton, 64% of yarns in 1927), while it is scarcely represented in the other items. Machines and tools, metals and metal products come from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and England.
Of the imports, 50% takes place via the Danube, 14% via Mt Nero; in exports, the figures are reversed (29% and 65% respectively). The participation of the railways is insignificant (16% and 6%).