“We are ready to discuss the participation of Chinese companies in the implementation of projects in the sphere of infrastructure, transport, energy“. The Deputy Minister of Economy Lyuben Petrov said this in his official greeting to the participants in the sixteenth session of the Bulgarian-Chinese Intergovernmental Mixed Commission for Economic Cooperation which is held in Sofia. Cо-Chairmen of the Commission are Djan Sanchan, Deputy-Representative of China on issues of international trade (with rank of Deputy Minister) and Lyuben Petrov, Deputy Minister of Economy of Bulgaria. Experts from the Ministry of Trade of China, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism, the InvestBulgaria Agency, the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency, the National Company Industrial Zones, the Bulgarian Development Bank participate in the work of the Mixed Bulgarian-Chinese Commission.
Deputy Minister Lyuben Petrov announced that during the period after the conduct of the last session of the Mixed Commission in 2014 the Chinese investments in our country expanded most of all in the sphere of agriculture and the production of fodder. “Projects for creation of two plants in China for the production of yoghurt are in an advanced stage of negotiation. Work is done on projects for creation in our country of an enterprise for production of vegetable oil, of a joint venture for electric cars, of a joint venture for the assembly of speed trains, and the projects are in an initial stage of investigation“, Deputy Minister Petrov particularized. He expressed confidence that specific measures will be set up as a result of the session to transform the accumulated ideas in real arrangements between the two countries as well.
Topics related to the trade and investments, agriculture, transport and infrastructure, the information technologies and communications, energy, tourism were discussed during the session of the Bulgarian-Chinese Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation, as well as the cooperation in the financial sphere. “There are several projects of priority which the Ministry of Economy works under, and which we would like to attract Chinese investments to“, Deputy Minister Petrov declared. These are the industrial zones and in particular “Economic Zone Sofia – Bozhurishte”, the Industrial Zone in Karlovo, “Free Zone Vidin” EAD as well as the building up of Economic and Industrial Zone Stara Zagora. The Economic Deputy Minister also outlined the possibilities for participation of highly technological Chinese companies in the first scientific technological park in Bulgaria – ”Sofia Tеch Park“. The Project for building up a Euro-Chinese Zone for Economic Development, a part of Thrace economic zone in the town of Plovdiv is also with the support of the Ministry of Economy. Another significant project is the building up of a Logistic Hub Plovdiv, which will include an industrial zone and a free zone serviced by Cargo Airport. Logistic Hub Plovdiv is designated for servicing Asian companies which offer their goods and services in the EU, the Deputy Minister emphasized.
In the sphere of agriculture the focus in the discussions of the experts in the session was the possibly fastest finalization of the procedures for satisfaction of the requirements for import into China of Bulgarian agricultural and food products. The readiness of the Bulgarian country to provide projects in the sphere of the road and railway infrastructure, which could contribute to the attainment of reliability and continuity of the cargo transportations from China to Europe through Bulgaria was presented in the transport sector. These are the construction of the road directions “Hemus“, “Sofia – Kalotina“, “Vidin – Botevgrad“, “Ruse–Veliko Tarnovo“ (with possible continuation to Svilengrad), speed road “Black Sea”, “Rila” and the tunnel under Shipka Peak. The projects are in a different degree of design readiness and alternative variants are sought for financing without state guarantee and one such possibility is the public-private partnership. The presented railway projects are related to the modernization of the infrastructure in the directions Ruse – Varna, Sofia – Pernik – Radomir, Radomir – Gyueshevo, Ruse – Dimitrovgrad, Karnobat – Sindel. The project for the construction of an Intermodal Terminal in the town of Varna was also presented, as well as brief information in connection with what is happening in the sphere of concessioning of projects from the transport sector.
It became clear at the session that the Bulgarian country is interested in the attraction of Chinese investments in the implementation of projects in the sphere of energy. The possibilities for cooperation in the field of tourism were discussed as well. A project was presented for the development of a tourist product for preventive health tourism for Chinese pensioners. It was emphasized in the discussions that the Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) seeks cooperation with Chinese partners for financing projects of mutual interest and with contribution to the development of the Bulgarian economy and the Bulgarian micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The development of the trade-economic relationships between Bulgaria and China in the last few years has been characterized by increase of the Bulgarian export and growth of the bilateral trade as a whole. In the last ten years our export for China has increased nearly eight times – from 78 million US Dollars in 2006 to 612 million US Dollars in 2015, which is indicative for the interest of the Bulgarian business in the Chinese market. The import from China in the last ten years has also increased, but at far more moderate rates (in 2006 it was in the amount of 961 million US Dollars and in 2015 it was 1 billion 76 million US Dollars). Though certain decline in the Bulgarian export for China and in the bilateral exchange of goods as a whole was observed in 2015 and the first six months of 2016, China continues to occupy the second place amongst our export destinations beyond the European Union, after Turkey and is amongst our leading 10 export partners in a global scale.