Commemorating 20th Anniversary of Bulgaria’s NATO Accession: More U.S. Investments in Europe and in Bulgaria Are Expected, Along with Well-Applied Investments Screening Mechanism

On March 29th, 2024, AmCham Bulgaria commemorated the 20th Anniversary of Bulgaria’s accession to NATO with a dedicated business luncheon of the AmCham Bulgaria Executive Club having two distinguished guests of honor: Bulgaria’s President 2012 – 2017 H.E. Rosen Plevneliev, and U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria H.E. Kenneth H. Merten. The event had two parts – a public one opened for media, and a closed–door discussion with the 120+ C-level representatives of the membership.

“This event marks a significant milestone in Bulgaria’s presence on the global stage. Today, we stand together to commemorate the 20thAnniversary of Bulgaria’s membership in NATO, an alliance that has undoubtedly shaped the trajectory of our nation’s security, political statute, and economic development. Reflecting on the past two decades, Bulgaria’s accession to NATO marked a pivotal moment in our history, signaling our commitment to shared values of democracy, freedom, and peace,” said  in his opening remarks Ivan Mihaylov, CEO AmCham Bulgaria

“In the face of global and local economic turbulence and political uncertainties, the Chamber has remained committed in its mission to foster a conducive environment for business and investment, bridging Bulgarian and American enterprises. You, our members, representing a diverse spectrum of industries, have been instrumental in driving innovation, enhancing competitiveness, and contributing significantly to both our economies, as well the wellbeing of our society” he pointed out. 

“However, our work is far from over. As we navigate through the complexities of the 21st century, the challenges before us require not just adaptability but also a forward-looking approach that anticipates future trends and leverages opportunities for growth. The economic and political landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and our ability to thrive in this environment hinges on our continued collaboration, shared vision, and collective action,” emphasized Ivan Mihaylov .

He outlined the highlights of the recent Transatlantic Economy Report 2024:
  • The transatlantic Economy gained USD 8.7 trillion in 2023 – showing its resilience in the face of global economic and strategic disruptions. 
  • USA and Europe remain each other’s most important markets and geo-economic partners.
  • This report shows that Bulgaria exports to America goods at the total of USD 1.5 billion and services at  app. USD 500 million – a steady growth of both indicators. 
  • In terms of shares, there is slight drop of Bulgaria’s export to America to 2.3% of the total U.S. import. It increases to 6.6% when the intra-EU trade is excluded from the total.

“The bottom line in my remarks here is: more U.S. investments in Europe, and especially in Bulgaria are needed more than ever. This has been our mantra for decades. There is huge voice of the businesses to reduce the super-regulation to sustain EU Competitiveness and to mitigate the impact of China. Last but not least, investment screening should take a more serios part of the state security concept, and be applied. 

President Rosen Plevneliev said “Globally, we are passing through a disorderly transition from the Cold War time until 1989 through a Cold Peace time since 2014 to hopefully sustainable peace time in the future.”

“We witness a record number of local and regional wars unseen in human history, sanctions, and confrontations between global and regional powers. It is a transition period, and we see not just a technological, a green transition, but also a geopolitical transition,” he pointed out.

“The big transformation of the global order has its reflection on the region and Bulgaria. No matter the political disfunction and instability in the country, Bulgaria will continue to play a positive and constructive role in the EU and the Eastern flank of NATO. Despite the political turbulences in the country, Bulgaria will have a stable government after all, following the strategic priorities of the Eurozone membership, Schengen membership, the continuation of the  judicial reform, and the modernization of the country,” he said in  the end.

Ambassdor Merten said : “Bulgaria should be proud of the strides it has made solidifying its Euro-Atlantic orientation and gratified at the impact those strides have achieved.  The country’s progress towards Eurozone and full Schengen membership, as well as its vital role within the NATO Alliance, have contributed significantly to the rising level of foreign direct investment Bulgaria is attracting, helping drive economic growth and a robust employment market.”

Transatlantic Economy 2024 in numbers
  • 16 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic
  • Half of total global personal consumption
  • USD 6.9 trillion in total commercial sales a year
  • 1 / 3 of global GDP (in terms of purchasing power)

Bulgaria and the Transatlantic Economy

According to the report, the U.S. Investments in Bulgaria are USD 514 million – increasing from USD 200 million in the previous report. The Bulgarian investments in America are USD 102 million which is higher than USD 50 million from the last year’s report. 

The direct U.S.-related jobs in Bulgaria are 10,908 (compared to the 10,605), while there are 306 jobs that Bulgarian companies have created – which is no change vs. 2023 report.

About the trade, the U.S. have exported goods with the total value of USD 513 mln vs. app. 300 mln (2023). The share of the U.S. goods supplied to Bulgaria is 1.4% of their total volume, but it increases to 3.2% when the intra-EU trade is excluded from the total. (in comparison it was 0.7% and 1.8% respectively) 

In comparison, Bulgaria has exported goods to the United States totaling of USD 1.5 bn (which is an increase from USD 1.2 bn in 2023.). Thus, the U.S. received 2.3% of the total goods Bulgaria exported to the world. This share increases to 6.6% when intra-EU trade is excluded from the total. (in comparison of 2.5% and 7.3% respectively, which is a decline in terms of shares).

Both indicators show stable economic relations in trade between Bulgaria and the United States, while Bulgaria’s export – direct and via EU partners – increased over the past year.

Top Five U.S. Goods Exports to Bulgaria (USD, mln):
  1. Transportation and Equipment – 155.2 (vs. 90.1 in 2023) 
  2. Machinery Manufactures – 80.3 (vs. 41.4 in 2023)
  3. Computers and Electronic Production – 78.1 (vs. 57.7) 
  4. Petroleum and Coal Products – 50.3 (34.7) 
  5. Mining – 35 (n/a 2023)

Like the big picture presented in the report, the U.S. energy products export to Bulgaria increases with 30% y/y and more than 50 times vs. 2000 (1.3). So, we can conlclude that the LNG and other export from the U.S. to Europe and Bulgaria because of the Russian war in Ukraine and the stoppage of Russian energy sources to Bulgaria shifted this energy supply. In 2024 report Mining is back while chemical manufactures drops from Top 5.

Top Five Bulgaria Goods Exports to the U.S.:
  1. Computers and Electronic Production – 224.4 (vs. 193.3)
  2. Machinery Manufactures – 206.5 (vs. 102.6)
  3. Chemical Manufactures – 159.1 (vs. 144.3)
  4. Miscelaneas Manufactures – 132.6 (vs. 106.4)
  5. Primary Metals Manufactures – 121 (n/a)

Event Gallery

In a consecutive year Bulgaria export to America goods with high added value (computers, electronics, manufactures, chemicals, primary metals manufacture). The missing good this year is electronic equipment and back in 2023 it was crops (95.1 mln).

Top State Exporters of Goods to Bulgaria are Texas with USD 120.3 (vs. 55.2 mln), California – USD 70.3 (vs. 35.2 mln), Georgia – USD 63.06 (n/a), Iowa – USD 31.4 (n/a), and Illionois – USD 24.6 mln (n/a). 

However, there states such as Florida – USD 32.9 mln, Alabama – USD 22.8, and Maine – USD 21.1 which did not make it in Top 5.

Those states that import most from Bulgaria are California – USD 159.3 (vs. 91.8 mln) that makes a come-back from 2022 report, New Jersey – USD 124.8 mln., Massachusetts – USD 101.7 mln (vs. 111.5 mln in 2023 report and then – ranked 1st), Missouri – USD 101 (USD 68.1 mln), and New York – USD 88.8 (vs. 68.8 mln)

California climbs to Number 1, while last year’s leader – Massachusetts – drops to 3rd place, and North Carolina – USD 74.5 mln. in 2023 – is out in 2024 report.

With regards the services export, the U.S. have exported to Bulgaria services totaling of USD 381 mln. (vs. USD 300 mln in 2023 report), while Bulgaria has exported to the States – USD 496 mln. (vs. USD 400 mln in 2023 – which is 25% growth y/y, which, is getting closer to USD 577 mln in 2018).

Note: Should you compare the Transatlantic Report 2024 with the U.S-Bulgaria Economic Partnership: Investments, Jobs, Trade (2023), you will see difference between the numbers of the U.S. investments in Bulgaria. You should consider that the U.S-Bulgaria Economic Partnership use the methodology to track the ultimate beneficial owner of a set of identified and analyzed number of companies that operate in Bulgaria