January 10 (SeeNews) - Sofia Municipality is the biggest region in economic terms in Bulgaria, creating about 40% of the country's GDP, Sofia Investment Agency (SIA) said.
"The contribution of Sofia Municipality to the national economy has been growing at a moderate but stable rate in recent years, reflecting the continuing concentration of economic activity in the capital," the municipal agency said in a statement earlier this week, citing excerpts from its most recent Economic and Investment Profile report about the Bulgarian capital.
Bulgaria's GDP totalled 107.9 billion levs ($61.2 billion/55.2 billion euro) in 2018, marking a real GDP growth of 3.1% year-on-year.
The change in the value added by the different sectors in Sofia in the last 10 years is in line with the transformation of the Bulgarian economy and its orientation towards higher value-added sectors, SIA noted.
The manufacturing industry has increased its weight in the local economy after a series of investments in the areas of pharmaceuticals, automotive, cosmetics and optics. By 2018, the manufacturing industry had a share of 9.9%, showing an increase of almost 2% compared to its share before the economic crisis of 2008-2009.
Sofia's economy is also characterized by significantly higher investment activity than the national average. By the end of 2018, Sofia had attracted 13 billion euro of foreign investments or about 9,800 euro per capita, which is nearly three times the average for the country.
Most investments in Sofia are directed towards services, with industries in the sector making the biggest contribution to the added value of the local economy and 37% of all foreign direct investments by the end of 2018. Other sectors attractive for foreign investment include manufacturing, utilities and real estate.
"This is due to both the high income and consumption in the capital and the fact that the city is a well-developed transport and logistics centre," SIA explained.
Due to the concentration of highly-educated working-age population in Sofia, the city has the highest employment rate - 76% in 2018, representing an absolute record both for the capital and Bulgaria.
Furthermore, Sofia has the lowest unemployment rate, of 2.1%, compared to all regions. The highest percentage of employment remains in the trade and repairs sector - nearly a quarter of the labour force in the city.
"Overall, the prospects for the development of Sofia are positive. The city will most likely continue to concentrate an increasing share of the economic activity in the country due to its positive demographics and its leadership in the development of the fastest-growing sectors," SIA concluded, noting that the most rapidly-growing sectors are the IT industry, outsourcing of business services as well as some manufacturing activities.
Sofia Investment Agency is part of Sofia Municipality and offers a one-stop service for foreign companies, entrepreneurs and startups looking to set up business in Sofia.
(1 euro = 1.95583 levs)