American and Canadian Investments in Bulgaria are in High Value-Added Sectors for the National and Regional Economies

The report “U.S. – Bulgaria Economic Partnership: Investments, Labor, and Trade (1990 – 2022)” was officially presented today. The report was introduced by Ivan Mihaylov, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, and economists from the Institute for Market Economics (IME) team – Svetla Kostadinova, Executive Director, and Lachezar Bogdanov, Senior Economist. The press conference occurred at the National Press Club of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA) in the presence of journalists and of Chamber members.

The press conference was attended by Desislava Taliokova, Executive Director, America for Bulgaria Foundation, Mariya Kossanova, General Manager, HPE Operated by Selectium, Ruslan Papazyan, General Manager, Curtis / Balkan, Dilyana Mileva, Vice President, American University in Bulgaria, and Ivan Pironkov, General Manager, Westinghouse Bulgaria who represented those 13 members that supported the project and presented success stories on booklet pages.

This report builds on the set of analytical studies with which the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria continues its line of providing concrete proposals for the transformation of specific sectors and providing arguments for improvements in the business environment, including in priority sectors such as energy, healthcare, rule of law, human capital, education, etc.


Quotes from the Event

“The second edition in the last five years of the economic analysis shows the steady pace of U.S. investment in the country in strategic, high-value-added sectors for multiple stakeholders. Current data show that the researched amount of investment from the US by 2022 is 5.5 billion leva, which makes at least 3.5 times the real value. Their estimate includes tangible fixed assets, net sales revenue, and number of employees. The 98 U.S.-owned companies identified employ nearly 41,600 people, with the five Canadian companies employing almost 6,000 people. The U.S. share of all foreign direct investment in Bulgaria is 5.5%, which is more than three times higher than the BNB data. And in 2022. The United States retains the sixth place among the countries-investors in our country according to the ultimate owner of the capital.”


“With this report, IME and AmCham Bulgaria expand the knowledge of the economy and the activities of some foreign investors in Bulgaria. This knowledge is extremely useful both for assessing the business environment and the factors that determine its development or stagnation, as well as for presenting the significant linkages that exist between Bulgaria and the United States. Beyond the numbers, however, are identified and valuable intangible assets that are often overlooked or cannot be measured. These are technologies, technological knowledge, and know-how, education that investors and individuals bring with them.”

Svetla Kostadinova, Executive Director, IME.

“This report shows both the US and Canadian investment picture in comparative order of magnitude with their assessment five years ago. But it again debunks some of the public myths about foreign investors in Bulgaria, particularly those from the US and Canada. The presence of at least 100 American companies in Bulgaria – some of them with a decades-long history – is an indicator of the connectivity of the Bulgarian economy with the global economy, with a need for a deeper study of the interconnections and are a signal to new investors to turn to Bulgaria.”

Lachezar Bogdanov, Chief Economist, IME.

A Business Leader’s Voice

“It is important not to take the IT industry for granted. IT industry is transparent and operates within the legal economy. We need to maintain this status quo with joint efforts – business and government. Moreover, it is also a shared responsibility to improve the relationship between business, education, and the state. In addition to digitalization, which must be more extensive in our country, we must not forget about new trends. Today, there is a lot of talk about AI, but there is no public conversation about regulations in this direction. This process is both a collective and a personal responsibility.”

Mariya Kossanova,
Country Manager, HPE Operated by Selectium

About the report

This is the second edition of this study, with the 2023 edition created to mark the 120th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and the United States in 1903.

The first-of-its-kind report on American investments in Bulgaria was presented in 2018. It was also prepared in 2023 by the Institute for Market Economics on behalf of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria in partnership with the America for Bulgaria Foundation and with the support of 22 other Chamber member companies. The full content of the publication includes 13 success stories of American and Canadian companies operating in the country.

The report applies the methodology for tracking the ultimate owner of the capital of foreign companies operating in Bulgaria, focusing on those of US and Canadian origin. The 2023 content builds on the 2018 edition by including trade, foreign exchange, and tourism data.

The report also analyzes key indicators of the activities of the identified US companies in Bulgaria. These include the size and dynamics of revenues and employment, productivity and average wages of employees, investment in fixed assets, and an assessment of the leading industries in which the companies under consideration operate.

The main aim of the report is to provide an up-to-date assessment of the importance of the trade relationship between the US and Bulgaria. U.S. investment has been important to both the national and regional economies since 1990, concentrated in four sectors of our economy: manufacturing, information technology and communications, energy, and trade. In each of these sectors, the share of U.S. investment is at least 10% of all foreign investment, with agriculture accounting for 24%. At home, these investments are represented by leading U.S. brands that shape the image of these sectors. Regions such as Sevlievo, Razgrad, Stara Zagora, Gabrovo, Sofia, and others have been developing upwards and sustainably for years thanks to the work and investments of American companies there.



Methodology

The Institute for Market Economics uses official data from the Bulgarian National Bank, the National Statistical Institute (NSI), and the annual financial statements of companies in the Commercial Register to identify companies with an ultimate owner that is an individual and/or a legal entity of US and Canadian origin. The initial review includes companies with more than $50 million in revenues and those with more than $25 million in 2021 operating in the real estate and hospitality industries (750 companies in total). Separate information is used for companies that are members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria.

As a result, both the direct investors in the capital of 750 of the largest Bulgarian companies have been identified, as well as the ultimate investors, including those of US origin, who own the direct investors. This identified 98 companies with a direct or indirect ultimate owner of a US-origin individual and/or entity, as well as 5 companies of Canadian origin.

The Foreign Direct Investment Accounting Methodology was used to estimate the amount of investment in the country.

The analysis using this methodology shows once again after 2018 that U.S. and Canadian investments in Bulgaria are strongly underestimated. Economists point to the conservative methodology used by the BNB as a reason for this, while AmCham concludes that this is due to the investment environment in Bulgaria, including the rule of law and the tax burden.

This project was supported by America for Bulgaria Foundation, ADM Bulgaria, Coca-Cola, Curtis / Balkan, ContourGlobal Maritza East 3, Dundee Precious Metals, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Operated by Selectum Bulgaria, Kamenitza, Mondelēz Bulgaria, MSD Bulgaria, Sensata Technologies Bulgaria, Westinghouse. Their 13 success stories are contained in the publication.

The publication also received support from Amgen Bulgaria, DK Bulgaria, Glavbolgarstroy, Honeywell Bulgaria, JDE Bulgaria, KAI Group, Kamburov & Partners, McDonald’s Bulgaria, New Boyana Film Studios, UniCredit Bulbank, and Woodward Bulgaria.


Thank you!