Sofia, March 12, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev praised the close business ties between Bulgaria and UK in his welcoming address to a British trade delegation on March 11, emphasising the potential for further investment in key areas of Bulgaria’s economy.
“Britain is a very important economic partner for Bulgaria and we hope that our country will continue moving up the ladder in the future. We value every investment from the UK, whether from large companies or small and medium enterprises,” Plevneliev said.
With investment of more than 2.1 billion euro in 1996/2013, the UK was the fifth-largest investor in Bulgaria, while trade between the two countries reached 860 million euro last year, growing consistently at a brisk pace of nearly 10 per cent a year, Plevneliev said.
“Today’s forum is a good platform to discuss all the opportunities available to us and making strategic decisions for the future. I believe that that we can succeed in reaching the full potential of Bulgarian-British economic relations and will have many positive reasons for meeting in the future,” he said.
The trade delegation, dubbed “the Great Mega Mission” features representatives from 50 British companies, operating in the nuclear, oil and gas, transport, water and environment infrastructure sectors. They were due to meet with Bulgarian firms, government officials and trade bodies over the course of a busy two-day stretch, which was set to include sector-specific and one-on-one meetings as well as thematic round-table discussions and networking sessions.
The specific sectors were picked because Bulgaria has been prioritised as a destination in these industries as of the scale of the opportunity it offers, the British embassy to Sofia chargé d’affaires Sarah Riley said.
“The UK considers Central and Eastern Europe to be a key region for commercial partnerships. At the same time, with the CEE region benefitting from over 180 billion euro of EU funding for the period 2014-2020, Bulgaria sends a very clear message that it has plenty to offer,” she said in an embassy statement.
The trade delegation, which also visited Romania on March 9-10, is the largest visit of its kind to the two countries and is part of UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) efforts to double UK trade with Central and Eastern Europe by 2020.