Stable, though the standard of living is still quite low. A currency board, in which the national currency is tied to the EURO and all foreign investments are strictly monitored by the IMF, has been in effect since July 1997. The exchange rate is fixed at BGL 1.95583 /EURO 1.
Bulgaria's currency is called Lev (BGN), plural: Leva. One Lev is made up of 100 stotinki.A lot of international banks have branches in Sofia, servicing the usual retail and corporate segments.
Bulgaria's strategic location near the Turkish Straits is important because it controls key land routes from Europe to the Middle East and Asia. The privatization process has begun and includes a voucher scheme for mass privatization.
Foreign investment is encouraged by legislation and trade policy has been liberalized. In view of the accession negotiations with the EU, free trade agreements have been signed with other countries. The general economic, fiscal and political situation is stable, inflation is low, and the banking system is - now - healthy. The country's prospect of joining the EU, its highly-qualified and low cost labor force, and low taxes for enterprises encourage foreign investment.
Further challenges for the government include improvement of infrastructures, financial support to the weak and poor, reduction of unemployment, a continuing privatization process and the reinforcement of agriculture. Bulgaria's prospects for the future are encouraging, since the country's economy - together with the Romanian one - is the most stable and complies the most with EU regulations, compared with the other participating countries.
There is a lot of potential for foreign investment in sectors such as high technology, textiles, tourism, construction and financial services. Bulgaria is continuing the process towards free trade, in compliance to EU regulations. Moreover, it is the only Balkan country that still maintains a free trade agreement with Russia, which is the biggest European market and one of the biggest worldwide. Therefore, Bulgaria seems very attractive to foreign investors.