AmCham Bulgaria President’s Speech at the 2018 General Assembly of The Chamber – Report and Highlights of the work of the Chamber 2018.
On behalf of the AmCham Board of Directors it is my pleasure and duty to present to you the Chamber’s activities in 2018.
This year, the Chamber entered in well expected sustainable mode with regard our membership. As of today, we unite 350 corporate and individual members, representing probably all sectors of the economy. In comparison with 2017 we reached levelling of the incoming and outgoing members and invested efforts in retaining members within our community.
In 2018, AmCham continued its partnership with different stakeholders – members, government, business, industrial organizations, NGOs, and media, with the aim to improve the business environment, investment climate and quality of life in Bulgaria. In addition, we participated in a number of policy initiatives of the US Chamber of Commerce and AmCham EU. Moreover, AmCham Bulgaria was active in the strategic planning of joint initiatives and best practices sharing of the American Chambers of Commerce in Europe.
In 2018 we are proud of achieving progress on key priority areas included in our strategic document – the White Paper as: the promoting of sustainable economic and business environment, contributing to the overall competitiveness and prosperity of the country through digitalization and the human capital development.
2018 was also a very important year for Bulgaria because our country held its first Presidency of the Council of the European Union. AmCham Bulgaria worked in close cooperation with the Government during the Presidency and had the honor to organize one of the most impactful technology events – IT Hub Connect. The event was attended by high-level officials and international experts from the European Union and from the governments of Bulgaria, India and 4 Balkan countries.
This year, AmCham produced a series of position papers and statements on digitalization, taxation, healthcare, energy liberalization, public procurement issues, and others, which were submitted and presented to members of the Parliament and Government.
As a follow-up of our Business Breakfast with the Minister of Education we are in a final step to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education and Science. This document will structure our joint efforts – those of AmCham and those of the administration – to improve the digital skills of the students in every level of the educational system, as well as to further deepen the dual education aiming to attract youth in jobs in the STEM specialties.
Let me highlight some of the Chamber high-level initiatives in 2018:
- U.S. Investments in Bulgaria Study
- Annual Meeting with the Government
- Joint conference “Brexit: The future of the Global Trade” organized with the BBBA
- The Paris Road Map Signatory by AmCham Bulgaria
- “Education for the Future” joint conference
- Meet the Key Officials of the U.S. Embassy
The Business Breakfast with the Government was a landmark event and discussion that positioned our Chamber in highest level. Key topic of the event was the highlights of the U.S. Investments in Bulgaria Study. It says that the American investments are under reported and their actual value and volume is at least 2.5 times higher than the official statistics.
In fact, The U.S. Investments Study became the cornerstone of our communication in the second half of the year. Apart from the institutional communication and outreach, the Report findings were part of many business, institutional and media events and talks.
Again, AmCham continued our support to young disadvantaged talents in acquiring quality education in Bulgaria. Like the previous 15 years we organized stylish and well-attended Thanksgiving Charity Dinner. It is Chamber’s community and high-profile landmark event, and in 2018 we changed its concept to provide more entertainment, more networking opportunities, and to gently persuade members to donate scholarships.
Mentioning our community, it is must to touch on our largest in terms of audience, duration, and efforts social event in our calendar – the United States Independence Day Party. Indeed, it is fun, it is joyful, and it is huge effort and expense that requires members’ support.
In terms of partnering with our members, there were myriad of events of our members that were supported, published on either the website and the weekly bulletin, or there are AmCham speakers and guests.
As you know we changed the Statute of the Chamber last year. Our goal was to strengthen the organization, to increase the motivation of the members and those leaders that would like to run to a Board Member’s seat, and to secure better representation of the U.S. companies in the Board.
A year later here we are.
We had two-month campaign long, we had nomination process, we had hearings of the candidates, we had more than two weeks of voting. At the end, we have a short list of a dozen potential Board members to be approved by you today.
Some of you might say the whole process is “a complicated exercise”. And I am sure that the AmCham Staff share this opinion. Indeed, the future Board had to review the process, its outcomes, bottle-necks, and to propose some options for its improvement by not changing the original goals and values that should bring us forward.
However, I am confident that we as the Board of AmCham did its best as a group and as individuals to improve our organization, to work for the sake of the Chamber, and to invest time, knowledge, money, and contacts to make it better and brighter.
So, Dear Members,
This is my last time when I am addressing you as The AmCham Bulgaria President. In the past couple of months, I had the opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to each and every one of you for your trust, support and enthusiasm. I would like to thank especially to the AmCham Bulgaria Team for their dedication and commitment.
It was a great honor to serve and represent the AmCham community. I will be happy to continue to be an active member representative.
I would like to wish best luck and a lot of success to the incoming Board of Directors, and the overall American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria!