AmCham Bulgaria Reconfirms Priorities for 2022 while Continues to be the Transatlantic Voice in Bulgaria

  • The Chamber focuses on Sustainable Business Climate and Investments, Digital Economy and Innovation, and Human Capital Development in Bulgaria.
  • AmCham will continue to engage with and support the Three Seas Initiative, as the main driver for its Regional and Transatlantic Advocacy.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria reconfirmed the Chamber’s strategic priorities for the period 2021 – 2022. The Board of Directors approved four strategic priority areas that ensure continuity with what was achieved so far, strengthening the positioning of the Chamber in the dialog with various stakeholders, as well as promoting the improvement of the business and investment climate and specific sectors of the economy.

“Despite the ongoing epidemic situation in Bulgaria, and pandemic globally, AmCham Bulgaria is well-positioned before national and international authorities. We are glad that so far, we have managed to navigate our organization in turbulent times. It was thanks to the joint efforts of the Board, the support of the membership, and the hard work of our team. Following our General Elections in May 2021, the newly constituted Board got together on Strategic Retreat in mid-September to discuss our Chamber’s general direction. It resulted in reconfirmed priorities and goal setting,” said Olivier Marquette, AmCham Bulgaria’s President.

Priorities in Detail

The four strategic priorities are: Regional and Transatlantic Advocacy; Sustainable Business Climate and Investments; Digital Economy and Innovation; and Human Capital Development.

Regional and Transatlantic Advocacy priority continues to position AmCham Bulgaria as the main transatlantic voce in Bulgaria. It aims at promoting trade and investment between the United States and Bulgaria via various regional (CEE, SEE) and international initiatives (EU-level, EU-U.S. dialog). This priority includes engagement with strategic transactions, sector-wide cooperation within the AmChams in Europe network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian Government. The Chamber continues to put specific emphasis on the cooperation and dialog with the Western Balkan countries. An important engagement remains the Three Seas Initiative.

The Sustainable Business Climate and Investments priority includes, on the one hand, the general efforts for promoting the country as an attractive investment destination that is rich in talents, opportunities, and resources, and on the other hand – putting serious efforts to improve the business and investment climate in Bulgaria. The Chamber will continue to focus on the transformation of strategic sectors, such as Energy (Energy Transition, EU Green Deal) and Healthcare (Healthcare System Reconstruction). The bottom line is that Rule of Law remains its highest priority that goes horizontally in each activity and advocacy of the Chamber. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the remaining hurdles in front the sustainable economic development in Bulgaria, red tape, fair justice, etc.

Тhe Digital Economy and Innovation priority involves focusing on the development and deployment of policies and activities that foster digital transformation, and improve cyber security & privacy. Within this scope, the Chamber will work towards the creation of a fully functional Start-up & Innovation Ecosystem in Bulgaria. Based on previous experience, it is critical for the country to have its own development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Strategy that comply with the EU regulation and that benefit from the technological advancement of the United States of America.

Furthermore, the Chamber will continue striving to promote the already signed bilateral agreements between Bulgaria and the United States, such as “Clean Networks”.

The topics related to human development and labor market improvement go under the umbrella of Human Capital Development priority. The activities will focus on creating policies to strengthen the labor market, and addressing the demographic challenges with quality measures. The leadership will work towards the development of a multi-stakeholder ecosystem and approach in three main streamlines: future of work, education, and legislation improvement to attract international talents and ease their access to the Bulgarian labor market.

There are two overarching imperatives that are the real enablers of all priorities above. They are Rule of Law, as well as continuing to increase the engagement of the members. Thus, the added value to all stakeholders certainly will lead towards an improved reputation of the Chamber.

Committees and Working Groups Development

Based on an in-depth analysis of the development of the Chamber and its effectiveness, the Board decided to enhance the work of the Committees. There are two main factors that drive their existence and formation,: sector-based approach and cross-sectoral initiatives. Essential prerequisite for the creation or development of a sector-based  committee is the significant presence of member-companies from the specific industry. The horizontally structured committees and working groups meet the needs of all members focusing on the important topics of rule of law, human capital development, talent attraction, a stable taxation system, etc.

During the Strategic Retreat on September 16-17, 2021, the Board welcomed the seven new members of the Board, decided to continue working with the existing committees, such as Energy and Mineral Resources, Healthcare, HR & Education, Tax and Finance, while Digital Economy merges with E-Governance. HR & Education Committee changes its name to Human Capital and Education Committee.

Among the main tasks in the process of enhancing Committees is triggering engagement of committee members, setting their goals for 2022 in alignment with the Chamber’s priorities, ensuring  committees produce meaningful industry content, communication, etc.

The opportunity for establishing new committees is being explored, industry-based or on a horizontal level as described above. On October 13, 2021, the Board decided to form the Rule of Law and Legislative Reform Committee. Omourtag Petkov, AmCham Board Member, Partner at “Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutcukov, Velichkov Law Firm” was appointed an interim chairman of the Committee.  Meetings are being held to consider creating two more new committees – Manufacturingand Research, Innovation, and Startup.

The establishment of a working group follows the principle that it should tackle some strategic problem and  concludes work when the problem is solved. As of now, the Chamber has several working groups, namely EU Green Deal (established in May 2021), Payments & Fintech, Quality Management, and Communication & CSR.

AmCham Membership Structure

Since December 2019, AmCham Bulgaria has a new membership structure.f. It is based on an in-depth analysis of the best practices of other sister chambers from the AmChams in Europe; on publicly available data, as well as it matches the strategy and needs set by the Board of Directors.

It was followed by a sector-based industry approach of grouping the members. Abandoning fragmentation of sub-industries resulted in a more common and focused structure of the membership of the Chamber. It will further consolidate the work in committees and on advocacy areas that occur, as well as will be setting point for cross-industry synergies.