AmCham Bulgaria President’s Full Remarks at the Pre-Elections Meeting with the Government

On April 1st, 2021 AmCham Bulgaria Executive Committee had a pre-elections meeting with the Government and the Political Party GERB leadership. Read summary of the meeting HERE.

Olivier Marquette, President of AmCham Bulgaria had an opening remarks. Find the full video with subtitles from the AmCham Bulgaria President below.

“Dear Prime Minister Borissov, Dear Deputy Prime Minister Dontchev, Minister Petkova, Dear colleagues and friends from AmCham, thank you for the opportunity again.

We are living in a very strange times and I know you are very busy, and it is difficult to be leading a nation these days but thanks for the time you will spend with us. We would like to hit on a couple of points which we think should be a priority for the next government.

I do not think that AmCham needs a presentation. We have more than 26 years of experience and we have more than 300 members and here with us today are the Executive Committee of AmCham.

One of our top priorities at AmCham is the development of a sustainable business climate and we’ve been working relentlessly to achieve this objective. Over the last few years, we are very pleased that we’ve had very good success in terms of improving the business climate.

The first thing I want to state is the political stability. I would like to congratulate you Prime Minister Borissov for completing the term of your mandate under very difficult circumstances. For the business community, I think, the political stability is very important. And I really hope that going forward such political stability will continue. In terms of the business climate and specifically moving to the U.S. the collaboration with the U.S. and strategic partnership with the U.S. is vibrant. We know that there are many working groups and discussions specifically in the energy sector, so, as American Chamber of Commerce we are very pleased with this strong relationship and to me the highlight of this U.S. – Bulgarian renewed and strong relationship was the trip, which most of us did to the White House to meet former President Trump.

I think there is still a lot to do and to say things bluntly, in terms of the business climate, I think Bulgaria can do much better. The Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) are still very low, a couple of percent of the annual gross domestic product. Bulgaria can do much better than that. Bulgaria has a huge potential to attract foreign investors and investments in general.

The country that you know better than me, when I lived in Bulgaria, I really enjoyed so much not only the country but the people – there are very strong educated workforce. Now what is needed in order to reach this potential – I don’t want to expand too much, but these are very well-known facts: improvement of the rule of law, fight against corruption, and overall improvement of the business climate. I think if businesses and companies feel welcome in Bulgaria with the right business environment they will come in much greater number and with much greater investments that has been the case.  I think this is a great opportunity for Bulgaria and as AmCham we very much looking forward to the next government to be pro-business, because that is going to help Bulgaria to fulfill its full potential.

My second and last point is related with the energy sector. I am talking here in the name of AmCham obviously but representing among of our members two large U.S. companies. I think, I would like to stress and thank Minister Petkova and the Government for the huge success in terms of stabilization of the electricity sector. I remember very clearly, when I first arrived in Bulgaria in 2015, the sector was in complete disarray in term of lack of payments to the producers, and regulatory instability. I think we have gone a long way and thanks to your leadership Minister Petkova and this Government, I would like to recognize it.

I think going forward – the key objective for the energy sector I believe is the future of the Maritsa Basin. I think this topic is essential because tens of thousands of jobs are associated to it and it is also related, quite frankly, to the energy security of the country and the energy independence. And on that I want to be very simple. I have one message on the name of AmCham which is – there is a lot of big opportunities today with the Recovery and Resilience Fund (RRF) to capture EU funding to support the financing and the transformation of the sector. I know that gas pipelines have been included into the RRF. I think carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project of large scale should be included as well and we would very much support getting CCS projects included into the RRF in order to leave the option open going forward. I think Bulgaria has a huge opportunity to be a leader in carbon capture and sequestration given its existing thermal base. I think Bulgaria can be a leader not only in the Bulgarian sector but in Europe on carbon capture and sequestration. I can tell you that as much as there are a hype around hydrogen there is also a lot of talks about carbon capture and sequestration which is the only way to get to the net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

So, I want to really urge Bulgaria to do everything possible to include this into the Resilience and Recovery Plan and would add that the U.S. department of energy has done a study for Bulgaria on CCS and I think that the U.S. side can bring a lot of support and including companies to support this.

I will stop here, and my colleagues will continue on the other topics.

Thank you very much. Good luck to the elections.”

Watch the full video with subtitles with the remarks from Olivier Marquette, President of AmCham Bulgaria during the pre-elections meeting with the government.