Sofia, June 27, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
On an official visit to Paris, Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev has said that he expects to see more French investors in Bulgaria’s increasingly high-tech industries.
Addressing French business people at a meeting organised by the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, Plevneliev said that trade between Bulgaria and France in the past 10 years was more than a billion euro a year.
In these past 10 years, trade had grown by 61.2 pe cent, while French investments in Bulgaria exceeded 1.3 billion euro.
France was a strategic business partner and the development of bilateral relations was a priority for Bulgaria, Plevneliev said.
“I expect to see more French investors in our increasingly high-tech industries. I believe that this way we will succeed to build sustainable and successful economic partnerships. It is integration – both political and economic – that makes our progress possible,” he said.
Plevneliev said that at tough times for Europe like this, when the referendum in the UK undermines the foundations of the EU, “It is even more important to remind ourselves that our successes are shared, that everyone wins from integration and co-operation, and populism and nationalism injure not only us, but also the future generations”.
He said that Bulgaria was emerging as a regional hub in the motor vehicle industry, the outsourcing industry and in the field of IT.
More and more foreign companies prefer Bulgaria as a destination for outsourcing services and industries.
The sector noted significant growth in the country in recent years, about 40 000 jobs have been created and the number was expected to reach 60 000 by 2020.
Plevneliev issued a reminder that Bulgaria has won the prize for best outsourcing destination in Europe 2015 and is in the top 10 of global outsourcing destinations.
“We want Bulgaria to become a preferred outsourcing destination for French companies,” he said.
Plevneliev said that the excellent telecommunications network, experienced specialists and traditions of Bulgaria’s ICT industry are factors that place Bulgaria as a regional leader in this sector.
About 5400 companies were active in the IT field and about 1500 in information services, he said.
Currently, the sector’s share of GDP of the country was 3.3 per cent and the trend is set to increase.
Sixty-five per cent of Bulgarian ICT products are exported and successfully compete in the global market.
Plevneliev also cited the simplified procedure for hiring staff from abroad – the EU Blue Card, which also addresses the provision of need for specialists in the industry.
Plevneliev told the French business people that Bulgaria’s advantages included the tax rates in the country, low labour costs and strategic position between Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.