Bulgarian trade with Arab world dropping
A recent editorial in the Bulgarian press claims that the country’s deteriorating trade with the Arab world is considered to be detrimental to its economy. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, nearly 70 percent of Bulgaria’s foreign exchange revenue came from trade with Arab nations, according to the Bulgarian Standart News daily. However, following the fall of communism, commerce relations with the Arab world suffered significantly.
Prior to the political changeover, trade with Libya, for instance, was valued at an estimated one billion dollars yearly. In 1989, $1.2 billion worth of Bulgarian exports reached the Arab world. However, by 1992, trade with Arab states had fallen to only $935 million a year. Last year, Bulgarian exports to the Arab states dropped further to $220 million, while trade with Libya had plunged to a mere $10 million.
Numerous Bulgarian civilian specialists for Arab affairs were dismissed over the past decade, and the Arab department of the Bulgarian foreign ministry was downsized, furthering the detachment policy.
The writer of the article, Emil Tsenkov, a Bulgarian political scientist, calls for a reevaluation of the current strategy. Tsenkov believes there is no reason why improved relations with the Arab world need conflict with Western interests, and maintains that a number of European countries, including Spain, France and Italy, are good models for such relations. These countries, he says, have managed to further their economic interests, while simultaneously preserving their western political interests.
Tsenkov added that moves towards improving relations with Arab countries are especially deserving of consideration, bearing in mind the debt owed to Bulgaria by Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya totaling two billion dollars. — (MENA Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)