Bulgaria’s 13 Trade and Economic Affairs Offices have new representatives, elected after transparent and public procedures

Bulgaria’s 13 Trade and Economic Affairs Offices have new representatives, elected after transparent and public procedures

After an initial submission of more than 180 applications for the selection of new Economic Representatives in the Trade and Economic Affairs Offices (STIV) of Bulgaria, announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a total of 13 candidates successfully passed the procedure. Competitions were held in three areas — ‘European countries’; ‘CIS countries’; and ‘Asia, Africa, America and Australia’. The selection procedure was announced by the Ministry of Economy for 23 vacancies in 21 countries in October 2023, and candidates had to go through several stages of assessment.

For the first time, the evaluation committee, with which the candidates were interviewed at the final stage, included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nationally represented employers’ organisations, experts from academia, educational institutions and NGOs.

The last interview reached 28 candidates for 18 destinations. After the interview with the members of the Selection Committee, the successful candidates were for the following 13 destinations: Kazakhstan, Almaty; Germany, Berlin; Portugal, Lisbon; Czech Republic, Prague; Switzerland, Bern; Algeria, Algiers; Indonesia, Jakarta; Jordan, Amman; Qatar, Doha; United Arab Emirates, Dubai; USA, Washington, D.C. Chicago, Los Angeles.

Following the selection of the new Economic Representatives, there will be procedures to determine the start date of appointment and secondment, assignment of diplomatic rank for the duration of their mandate, training at the Diplomatic Institute, briefings and useful meetings prior to formal appointment between 1 July — 15 August 2024.

The general profile of the selected candidates shows that they have an economic education, a number of additional specializations, courses, trainings, proven experience in the field of business activities, foreign economic and trade relations and proficiency in at least 3 foreign languages.

For the following destinations there are no qualified candidates, in view of the result of the interview. Delhi, India; Baku, Azerbaijan; Havana, Cuba; Ottawa, Canada Beijing, China. For one destination — Iran, Tehran, no applications were received.

‘We conducted transparent and public procedures. Opening new alternative markets and opportunities for business will be one of the main tasks in the coming years of the newly elected economic representatives, which will create the opportunity to diversify exports from Bulgaria and not to feel the negative economic aspects that we are currently seeing in Western Europe’, Minister Bogdanov said. He pointed out that for years in countries that are important trade partners of our country we have not had commercial attachés at Bulgarian embassies, which has negatively affected bilateral economic relations.

We would like to remind that the Ministry of Economy and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will cooperate with a view to improving the work of the STIV at the overseas representations of Bulgaria and aligning their activities with the priorities of the foreign policy in the field of economic diplomacy. In February, the two institutions signed an inter-ministerial agreement to strengthen the role of the STIV as a leading factor in the conduct of Bulgarian foreign policy, in particular foreign economic priorities. Specialized pre-mandate training is planned for the newly elected staff of the STIV to enhance their professional qualifications. The training activities will be implemented and coordinated by the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The conditions for participation in the competitions for new economic representatives were higher education — master’s degree, work or service experience of at least 6 years and proven experience in the field of foreign economic and trade relations. After an initial desk review and a comparison with the advertised requirements, 147 applications were admitted to the second stage out of over 180 applications submitted.

Participants in the procedure had to meet specific requirements, including knowledge of the economic development of the country, as well as bilateral relations with the country. Knowledge was also needed on the legal framework as well as on the international obligations of the Republic of Bulgaria related to the specifics of the work in the STIV. The applicants also had to present an analysis of the existing bilateral foreign economic and trade relations of the Republic of Bulgaria with the country they applied for, in which they had to focus on the potential opportunities for development, investment and trade over the next 4 years. Among the requirements were fluency in the commonly accepted language of the country applied for, as well as mandatory proficiency in English and digital competence

Candidates with an analysis score of not less than ‘4.00’ were admitted to the foreign language assessment stage. They were 68 in number but with 87 applications as some of the contenders had applied in more than two destinations. After the review and evaluation of the analytical materials submitted by the candidates, the next stage continued with 68.

After the foreign language test, there were 31 successful candidates, but with a total of 45 applications (due to one candidate appearing for more than one position).

On the basis of the competitions held, it became clear that for four of the destinations there were no candidates who met the minimum requirements for proficiency in the respective foreign language(s) or did not appear for the foreign language assessment. For this reason, the procedures for Turkey, Istanbul; Norway, Oslo; Slovakia, Bratislava and Denmark, Copenhagen were unsuccessful. Successful candidates at the foreign language stage also had their level of digital competence tested. At this stage, one candidate dropped out, the remaining 30 were invited to interview. Two opted out and 28 candidates appeared at the final stage.