AmCham Bulgaria President Remarks at the Business Breakfast with the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria, September 26th, 2023
Prime Minister Denkov,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Dear members and partners,
We are delighted to have you here at the AmCham’s Business Breakfast with the Government of Bulgaria.
With this event we would like to commemorate the 120th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the United States of America and Bulgaria. This event will be focused less on the past – mostly with numbers from our newest report about the U.S. investments in Bulgaria and will present ideas in several areas that need improvement.
The bottom line here is clean and simple: the U.S. investors are well welcomed in Bulgaria. They are here to stay. But there are several conditions that each government should consider: constant improvement of the investment climate and the business environment and dialogue with the business and foreign investors.
We all recognize that for two years now Bulgaria finally has a dully elected government. We all know that this required lots of efforts and constant focus on what is best for Bulgaria. We all witness that this government, like many others in the world, need to operate in difficult, multi-crises environment. And the twisted reality of words and messages can hard to tell who your friend is and who is your enemy.
I will say it clear: AmCham Bulgaria will support each government with Euro-Atlantic values and orientation that works to implement the needed reforms in rule of law, manages the smooth transformation in the energy sector, secures defense modernization, and upgrades its healthcare. And these are just few of the critical sectors, along with better infrastructure and digitalization. I am certain that the international business community in Bulgaria shares the same views.
Now, let me take you on my Time Machine of Investments.
Back in 2018 the news that the United States are ranked on the sixth place among all the foreign investors in Bulgaria shocked the business and political communities. Thanks to the great new methodology of our “U.S. Investments in Bulgaria” report, we were able to present the real volume, impact, and importance of the American investments here.
Now in 2023 the news is even bigger:
the United States are in Top 6 among the FDI in Bulgaria.
The investments from America are 5.5 billion leva – compared with 4 billion in 2018. This is more than three times more than the official data. Our methodology tracks the ultimate owner of the capital of an entity that operates in Bulgaria. And for this and for the two great reports I’d like to thank to Institute for Market Economics.
One of the new features of this report of 2023 is that we requested to evaluate the investments from Canada in Bulgaria. We are proud having Canadian companies among our vibrant community, and we owe them this acknowledgement.
The Canadian investments are more than 1.1. billion leva compared to the official data that presents them as peanuts.
The turnover of the U.S. companies is more than 11 billion leva. And more than 41,000 jobs are created.
In addition – the Canadian companies have more than 1.3 billion leva and they have created almost 5,200 jobs.
Let me tell you something: these numbers look great, indeed. But they could have been even greater if the business environment, the red tape, the lack of digitalization, and the non-transparent tenders remain in the past.
I will not bore you with details. We plan to have a dedicated event at which we will present the report thoroughly together with the Institute for Market Economics.
Let me just show you which sectors enjoy U.S. investments – manufacturing, energy, ICT, and trade.
There are American companies in others too – shown on the screen. And the Canadian are present in mining and shared services.
At least eight Bulgarian municipalities are homes for the American investments. And the obvious fact is that in all of them the salaries in the American companies are higher than the average ones.
Another new chapter in our 2023 report is dedicate to trade.
On this chart you can see that after the pandemic years and because of the Russian war against Ukraine the trade with goods between Bulgaria and the U.S. boomed. Today U.S. presents 2% of the Bulgarian export. That number presents the direct export without the intra-EU exchange in the supply chains, where we know that Bulgaria has strong positions. And thanks to the U.S. LNG Bulgaria managed to overcome the unilateral stop of Russian gas in April 2022.
How we can improve Bulgaria’s positioning on the global market?
First, we must look in some of the strategic sectors. We need to take care of the Healthcare system with a holistic approach. For example, our Healthcare Report presents not only the gaps, but provides proven solutions.
Also, our Power Sector Decarbonization Study was instrumental in the work of the Energy Transformation Commission. This is an important step towards an updated national energy strategy that it should include both power generation from various proven sources and gas in our energy mix.
Also, by linking businesses, people and ideas, our Office in Washington D.C. is and will be available for entrepreneurs of small and big enterprises, as well as to political leaders in door-knocking on the U.S. Senate and on Corporate America doors.
Moreover, our global network and local friends are ready to cooperate to great ideas and projects for improving sectors in Bulgaria and in our neighbouring regions.
Finally – Rebuilding Ukraine is an initiative that has multiple positive outcomes for many stakeholders and Bulgaria should be more active to provide technologies, funds, and work when Ukraine secures back all its territories.
Well, that were the key messages that AmCham Bulgaria would like to address in public before the Bulgarian government.
I would like to assure you that we are allies in this long-term battle and journey to make Bulgaria a better place for its people and the business.