“You need not turn your attention to Asia as Bulgaria is much closer to Germany and our country offers low taxes, as well as economic and financial stability. Take the chance to cooperate with us!” This was the message Mr Bozhidar Lukarski – Minister of Economy, directed at representatives of the German business at meetings with the German Economy Eastern Committee and the German Economy Union for Eastern Europe held today in Berlin. Minister Lukarski stated that his visit to Berlin on the occasion of the 9th session of the Bulgarian-German Cooperation Council is aimed at providing a new impetus to the economic relations with Germany, which have been frozen for nearly two years due to changes in the Bulgarian governments and accumulated problems.
The main concerns raised by the representatives of the big German businesses within the German Economy Eastern Committee referred to the industrial electricity price in Bulgaria, the replacement of the car and aviation fleets, and the judiciary system reform. The meeting was attended by representatives of large German companies such as Aurubis, Metro, Adam Opel, Airbus, Quarzwerke, KTG Agrar, SAP.
Representatives of Adam Opel stated that Bulgaria is an important market possessing a high potential in the area of automotive trade. They pointed out that the car fleet in the country is still aged. The lack of statistics about the number of engines and automobiles by brands was regarded as a problem. Minister Lukarski explained that the lack of statistics is due to a decision of the Association of Automobile Importers, while the delayed car fleet renovation is a social issue related to low income.
Representatives of Airbus indicated an interest in supplying helicopters for the Ministry of Defence, Border Police and Emergency Health Services, as well as for offset transactions. The Ministry of Economy declared its readiness for networking with the respective ministries in charge.
The increase of the industrial electricity price was also discussed during the meeting. Minister Lukarski announced that a decree has been elaborated in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy that provides for the possibility to decrease the burden of RES electricity costs via discounts on the social responsibility tax for energy-intensive industries. The decree has been presented to the European Commission and is pending approval. Mr Zheko Stankov – Deputy Minister of Energy, recommended that consumers falling outside the scope of the decree move towards the use of natural gas.
The large businesses representatives also pointed out the problems with regards to the judicial system and the slow process of dispute resolution in the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC). Minister Lukarski informed that renewal of the CPC and establishment of shorter terms for dispute resolution are to take place. He assured that the Government is determined to initiate the judicial reform already by the end of the year.
Later today, at a meeting between Minister Lukarski and the German Economy Union for Eastern Europe, assistance for networking between small and medium-sized enterprises from Bulgaria and Germany was negotiated. Expert assistance was proposed with regards to urban infrastructure, food industry and agriculture, logistics and health economics. The meeting was attended by representatives of ThyssenKrupp interested in the rehabilitation of hydrological facilities, as well as in projects in the area of flood defences. On their part, the representatives of Weltec Biopower indicated interest in expanding the company’s activity in the sphere of RES. Representatives of ProCredit Bank – Frankfurt expressed their willingness to increase lending to small and medium-sized enterprises.
During his visit, Minister Lukarski also attended the official inauguration of a Bulgarian design clothes store of the Andrews company. „The store’s range of goods is an excellent example not only of the high quality and style of Bulgarian apparel, but also of our production as a whole“, said Minister Lukarski and expressed his wishes for a successful initiative. The store is located in the vicinity of the Bulgarian embassy, as well as of a number of other embassies and business offices. The main target group of the new high-class store will comprise diplomats and business representatives.