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Bulgaria's EU membership gives serious growth opportunities to local business: Stamen Yanev

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Photo: investbg.government.bg

Bulgaria's economy benefited strongly from the country's accession to the European Union and its gross domestic product increased nearly threefold in the past ten years, Executive Director of InvestBulgaria Agency Stamen Yanev told Radio Bulgaria. We must also take into consideration the fact that when Bulgaria joined the EU the volume of foreign direct investments to this country was substantial and the accession of Bulgaria to that union actually legitimatized the country as a developing economy, Stamen Yanev said and added:

“That time was followed by a period of global economic crisis, which affected Bulgaria as well. After 2010, however, the country's economy has been growing steadily. Initially, the country was attracting mainly speculative investments. Now we are witnessing a sustainable development of the investments field. The number of strategic investors in Bulgaria has been constantly increasing. Those companies want to stay permanently in Bulgaria, develop the human capital and influence the surrounding economic environment, unlike before, when most investments were made in the real estate sector. Besides, the EU membership gives more opportunities to Bulgaria, because it can sell its produce and services on the world's wealthiest market which consists of some 500 million solvent customers.”

According to Stamen Yanev, in 2015 Bulgaria has attracted the biggest volume of foreign investments in the post-crisis period. The Netherlands tops the ranking of EU investors with nearly EUR 6 billion invested in Bulgaria between 2010 and 2016. Italy and Greece invested nearly EUR 2 billion each, followed by Germany and Austria. Bulgaria has attracted decent investments from non-EU countries as well such as the USA, the Russian Federation and Turkey. Bulgaria's authorities want to attract more foreign investments from China. Bulgaria's outgoing Premier Boyko Borissov recently met with representatives of the Chinese e-commerce giant Ali Baba, which has been studying the Bulgarian market for nearly one year. We hope that this Chinese company will establish a strong logistics base in Bulgaria, thus being able to sell produce to other EU states as well, Stamen Yanev further said.

Bulgaria has been attracting EU investments mainly in trade and real estate sectors. However, the sector manufacturing spare parts for large automotive companies has been developing rapidly in recent years. Over 100 companies from that sector currently operate in Bulgaria and their annual revenues amount to nearly EUR 2 billion. Foreign investors also show serious interest in logistics and transport, because of Bulgaria's strategic location, Stamen Yanev said and added:

“The four main freedoms in the EU - the free movement of goods, freedom of movement of workers, free movement of capital and the right of establishment and freedom to provide services is a serious perspective to the local business and allow it to expand further. Unfortunately, the local businesses have not fully benefited from that opportunity. The Bulgarian business must be more proactive and enterprising. It must take advantage of the multiple EU financial programmes not only in Bulgaria, but in the whole of the EU. ”

What changes Bulgaria's authorities should make, in order to attract higher investor interest?

“I would name three basic things, which in my view must be done in that sphere. Firstly, the state should develop a flexible system of incentives and provide the necessary assistance to every investor. It requires amendments to the current Investment Promotion Act. Secondly, the state authorities and the municipal authorities should cooperate intensively, in order to solve easily the problems of the investors at local level.  Finally, Bulgaria should launch organizational systems of a new type such as the ones that function in the Netherlands for instance, aimed at creating investment funds. Those funds can allot their capital to Bulgaria and other EU countries and develop the economy of this country. Each Euro that was invested in Bulgaria undoubtedly found its way to the Bulgarian business. ”

English version: Kostadin Atanasov  

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