Before World War II, Bulgarian industry, construction, mining, and handicrafts contributed only 17% to the net national income and accounted for only 8% of employment. Handicrafts in 1939 contributed almost half the net industrial output, followed by textiles and food processing. In the postwar period, the Communist regime nationalized industry and, through economic planning, emphasized a heavy industrialization program that resulted in a substantial increase in the metalworking and chemical industries. Between 1950 and 1960, the annual rate of growth of output in industry (including mining and power production) was 14.8%, according to the official index of gross output. Official statistics indicate that industrial output grew by 1,100% between 1956 and 1980, with the production of capital goods increasing by 1,500% and the production of consumer goods by 658%. Industrial output increased by 9.1% annually during 1971–75, 6% during 1976–80, 6.8% during 1980–85, and 2.7% during 1985–90. Ferrous metallurgy was given special emphasis in the 1960s, machine-building and chemicals in the 1970s and early 1980s, and high technology in the mid-1980s.
Even before the collapse of communism, industrial and agricultural production fell annually until 1997 and 1998, respectively, when the Kostov reforms took effect. Although traditional industries remain the foundation of the industrial sector, Bulgaria expects high-technology production to post gains in the future as high-tech companies establish operation there.
Industry accounted for 29% of GDP in 2001. Primary industries included the processing of food, beverages, and tobacco, machinery and equipment, base metals, chemical products, coke, refined petroleum, and nuclear fuel. Bulgaria also produces electrical components and computers. The privatization of Bulgaria's industries was largely complete as of 2002, with the exception of a few large companies, such as Bulgartabac. The construction sector should realize strong growth due to the need to undertake major infrastructure projects. Growth in 2003 was expected in light industry, including electronics, textiles, and food processing.