FITCH INTERNATIONAL RATING AGENCY UPGRADED BULGARIA'S RATINGS
Fitch, the international rating agency, upgraded Bulgaria's long-term foreign currency ratings to 'BB-' from 'B+' on January 14, 2002. The long-term local currency and short-term foreign currency ratings were affirmed at 'BB' and 'B', respectively. The long-term rating outlook was changed to stable. The agency pointed out that in recent months the Bulgarian Government had set out prudent fiscal targets and an ambitious structural reform programme, after an uncertain start following its election in June, 2002. Fitch said that the Government's commitment to the EU accession process and progress on structural reforms should underpin economic stability, reduce vulnerability to energy and commodity prices and raise living standards. Although the slowdown in the global economy has heightened short-term risks, Fitch expects the Bulgarian economy to bear up reasonably well, with GDP growth of 4.4% in 2001 and 4.0% this year.