Foreign trade was a state monopoly under the Ministry of Foreign Trade until 1990. Before World War II, 90% of exports consisted of agricultural products, primarily foodstuffs; machinery, finished consumer goods, fuels, and raw materials were the major imports. However, in 2000, the principal exports were:
|Refined petroleum products||11.2%|
|Machines and equipment||9.6%|
|Agri-food, drinks, tobacco||9.2%|
|Iron and steel||7.9%|
The principal imports were crude oil, natural gas, diesel fuel, fuel oil, coal, textiles, and machinery and equipment.
Geographic distribution of trade has changed radically twice: since World War II and the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Whereas before the war Bulgaria traded mainly with the countries of Western and Central Europe, after the war, trade shifted almost entirely to the countries of the Communist bloc. In 1991, 49.8% of all exports still went to the former USSR and 43.2% of all imports still came from the former USSR.
By the mid-1990s, weak demand in the former Soviet block markets led to an increase in exports to European Union countries which now take about 50% of Bulgaria's exports. Just over 21% of exports go to Central and Eastern European countries, 16.2% to other OECD countries, 1.9% to Arab countries, and 11.9% to other countries. Principal trading partners in 2000 (in millions of US dollars) were as follows: