Economic and Commercial Brief – Bulgaria Economic and Commercial Brief – Bulgaria

EMBASSY OF INDIA
SOFIA
Economic and Commercial Brief of Bulgaria

  1. The bilateral relationship spanning six decades has been strong and friendly and has been sustained by close contacts between our leaders in the past. It has transitioned smoothly Bulgaria's communist past to the present democratic, capitalistic set up.  Diplomatic ties between India and Bulgaria were established on 22 December 1954. People to people contacts between the two countries pre-date the official diplomatic relationship. Defence cooperation between the two countries has also contributed significantly to the bilateral relationship over the years.
  1. Institutional bilateral mechanism exists in the form of Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, the 18th session of which was held in Delhi on 6th March, 2018.

3.         The first Trade and Rupee payment agreement between India and Bulgaria was signed in 1956. The two-way trade was switched from Rupee Trade to Freely Convertible Currency trade in January 1979.

Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation (JCM)

4.         The Indo-Bulgarian Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation was set up at Government level in 1973. The Ministry of Agriculture was the nodal Ministry coordinating the activities of JCM till the 15th Session. The mandate had now been shifted to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. There are four Working Groups under the aegis of JCESTC i.e. 1) Working Group on Agriculture and related sectors; 2) Working Group on Commerce and Industry; 3) Working Group on Electronics and Information Technology; 4) Working Group on Science and Technology. The 18th Session of the JCESTC was held on 6th  March 2018 in New Delhi, co-chaired by Smt. Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary from Indian side and Mr. Alexander Manolev, Deputy Minister of Economy from the Bulgarian side.  During the JCESTC, both sides comprehensively reviewed bilateral economic relations, their potential and the basis for their development.  

Trade

5. The following table shows India’s trade with Bulgaria during the last five years:

  Year

India’s Exports to Bulgaria (in US$ millions)

India’ s Imports from Bulgaria (in US$ millions)

Total Bilateral Trade  (in US$ million)

2013-2014

168.10

93.65

261.75

2014-2015

266.45

103.66

370.11

2015-2016

145.53

93.72

239.26

2016-2017

239.53

182.22

421.75

2017-2018

173.24

141.94

315.18

April 2018-Sep 2019

125.67

72.29

197.96

(Source:Ministry of Commerce and Industry, New Delhi)

6.         Major Indian Exports to Bulgaria:  Organic chemicals; unmanufactured tobacco; medicaments; electric parts; wool; paving blocks, slabs, bricks; polymers of propylene; ferro-alloys.

7.         Major Bulgarian Exports to India: Laboratory instruments & apparatus; animal feeding preparations; aluminium waste & scrap; machinery for working rubber or plastics; copper waste & scrap; engines & motors.

Investment

8.         Bulgaria lies in the cross-roads between Europe, Asia and Africa.  Its strategic geographical locations give it access not only to the European markets but foreign markets also.  Bulgaria is seen as an attractive foreign investment destination in Europe due to its committed and skilled workforce, least overhead costs for doing businesses, including labour and full openness to trade and investment. It offers a flat corporate income tax of 10%, has one of the lowest average wage in EU at € 550 per month. There is considerable untapped potential for enhancing trade keeping in view Bulgaria's geo-strategic location, EU membership and India's strong economic growth and profile. Our trade with Bulgaria still reflects the traditional export basket of India. Indian businessmen have evinced interest in sectors like wine, pharmaceuticals, textiles, food-processing, steel, IT and education franchise, etc. Bulgarian businessmen are interested in enhancing economic and commercial relations in IT, defence, hospitality and heavy engineering sectors. 

9.         There are good prospects for investments in the fields of high-tech IT, business process outsourcing. Sutherland Global Services owns a business centres in Sofia and Varna and EXL Services has started a BPO Centre in Sofia. bio-tech & pharmaceuticals; tourism (Bulgaria offers conditions for cultural adventure, SPA, golf tourism); opportunity for participation of Indian firms in the sphere of renewable energy; facility management/ mall management (India’s cinema operator CineGrand Pvt Ltd. has opened theatres in at least 2 malls in Bulgaria - “City Centre Sofia” and “Sofia Ring Mall”) and agriculture & food processing (Namdhari Seeds own 600 acres of agriculture land in Plovdiv and grows fruits and vegetables for export to European markets). Bulgarian company Prime Petroleum have built a factory producing bitumen in Bhiwadi, Maharashtra. Yet another Bulgarian company Excitel provides internet facilities in Delhi and Hyderabad and Huwepharma produces veterinary medicine in Pune.

India-Bulgaria Business Chamber

10.       The Indian-Bulgarian Business Chamber (IBBC) was formed in August 2015 with the participation of reputed Bulgarian companies at the initiative of the Embassy. The Chamber has been working for expansion and facilitation of business and trade links between India and Bulgaria by creating appropriate awareness among the business establishments in the two countries. During the last three years, IBBC and the Embassy had organized well attended business forums in Sofia (February, 2016), Plovdiv (June, 2016), Varna (October, 2016), Burgas (November 2017) and Sofia (January 2018) and Plovdiv (September 2018).  The event organized in  Sofia on 24 January 2018 was attended by leading CEOs of prominent business establishments in Bulgaria. Presentations by Ambassador on the India opportunities, on socioeconomic advantage of India and cooperation between Indian and Bulgarian companies were made by Associate Professor Krassen Stanchev and Mr. Stamen Yanev, Executive Director InvestBulgaria Agency respectively. The event has resulted in creating awareness and enthusiasm in doing business with India.

IT HUB CONNECT FORUM

11.       A two-day International IT Forum called IT HUB CONNECT was organized on 26-27 March 2018 by the Embassy in partnership with the Indian-Bulgarian Business Chamber (IBBC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria (AmCham Bulgaria), under the auspices of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Keynote speeches were delivered by Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, former President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ms. Maria Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mr. Emil Karanikolov, Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Mr. Nenad Popovic, Minister of Innovation and Technological Development of Serbia, Mr. Damjan Manchevski, Minister of Information Society and Administration of Macedonia, Mr. Besim Beqaj, Minister of Innovations and Entrepreneurship of Kosovo and Ambassador Pooja Kapur. The event primarily focused on strengthening the relationship between the thriving IT industries in the Balkans, India and US, setting  common ground for cooperation. Cyber security and data privacy was another key topic on the agenda. More than 500 participants from key IT companies attended the event which was widely covered in the local media. 
Visits of Business delegations

12.       A multi-chamber delegation from FICCI, CII, PHDCCI, ASSOCHAM and TPCI comprising nearly 70 Indian companies accompanied the President of India on his State Visit to Bulgaria on 4-6 September, 2018. During the visit, the largest ever India-Bulgaria Business Forum was organized on 5 September in which 300 Bulgarian companies participated. Both Presidents of India and Bulgaria addressed the event.   Rashtrapatiji also met the accompanying Indian business delegation separately on 4th September 2018. The businessmen also held extensive B2B meetings with Bulgarian businessmen during the forum and visited Sofia Tech Park as part of a familiarization tour of the technological incubation hub of Bulgaria. An MOU between InvestIndia and InvestBulgaria was signed during the visit.

13.       A 63-member delegation of businessmen representing 46 Indian companies organized by ASSOCHAM visited Bulgaria to attend 74th International Technical Fair in Plovdiv from 22-29 September 2018. India was the largest participant in the fair. In addition, Mahindra also participated showcasing automobiles. A special India-Bulgaria Business Forum was held during the Fair addressed by Ambassador Ms. Pooja Kapur, Indian Bulgarian Business Chamber President Mr. Borislav Boyanov and Trakia Economic Zone Chairman Plamen Panchev, attended by business leaders, Mayors etc.

14.       A Business delegation from the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council visited Bulgaria from 24-27 September 2017 to take part in a special India-Bulgaria Business Forum organized by Balkan India Business Association & ECSEPC.  Deputy Minister of Economy of Bulgaria Mr. Alexander Manolev and Ambassador were among key speakers.  The delegation was led by Mr. D.K. Sareen, Executive Director of ECSEPC and consisted of 26 businessmen from ICT, Health, Agriculture, Tourism and Education.  The delegation participated in the 73rd International Fair in Plovdiv and had B2B meetings in Sofia and attended the where also they had B2B meetings with companies in Sofia and Plovdiv.

15        Hon’ble Minister of State for Textiles, Shri Ajay Tamta led a delegation comprising of Shri Puneet Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Textiles and Ms. Nidhi Mani Tripathi, PS to MoST, to Bulgaria from 8-11 May 2018. Hon. MOS met the Minister of Economy of Bulgaria Mr. Emil Karanikolov, held discussions with Board members of the Indian Bulgarian Business Chamber and visited a factory of Mars Armor, manufacturing body armor in Sofia; visited Namdhari Seeds Pvt Ltd. Agricultural farm and Maneesh Textile outlet in Plovdiv; Textile factory Miroglio owned by Eduardo Miroglio in Sliven.

ICT

16.       The ICT sector is one of the most dynamic sectors contributing to Bulgarian economy with an average annual growth of 17% since 2007.  The sector generated 5.1% of the Bulgarian GDP and is continuing to grow exponentially.

17.       The Fourth meeting of the ICT Forum was held on 14-15 June, 2010 in Sofia. The Indian delegation was led by Rakesh Singh, Additional Secretary, Department of Information Technology and the Bulgarian delegation was led by Parvan Rusinov, Deputy Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications.

Science & Technology

18.       An Indo-Bulgarian S&T Cooperation Agreement was concluded in New Delhi during the 13th session of Indo-Bulgarian JCM in November 2000. Both sides agreed to cooperate in a number of areas and to hold workshops in each other’s' countries. Since then, a Programme of Cooperation (POC) in S & T has been signed regularly between two countries.    

19.       The 9th Meeting of the JWG on S&T was held in Sofia in August 2018 during which the POC for 2018-2021 was finalized.  It was signed on 5 September 2018 during the visit of President of India to Bulgaria.
Tourism

20.       Tourism is an area, which holds prospects for both the countries. Bulgaria, with its beautiful mountains, the Black-Sea coast boasting of cities like Varna and Burgas, has become an attractive destination for Bollywood film Industry too. In July 2006, Member of Parliament and film actor Shri Vinod Khanna visited Bulgaria for shooting of his film ‘Godfather’.   Several big banner movies like “Bahubali”, “Dilwale” starring Shah Rukh Khan & Kajol and Ajay Devgan’s “Shivaay were extensive shot at various locations in Bulgaria. Recently Telugu Movie “Aganathavasi” and Bollywood film “Bhramastra” starring Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbeer Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, were shot at various locations in Bulgaria. Indian films have helped in popularizing Bulgaria as an interesting tourist destination among the Indian public. 

Cooperation in Civil Aviation

21.       A bilateral Air Services Agreement with Bulgaria was signed in New Delhi on June 16, 1992. The Agreement provided for 2 services per week with aircraft capacity not exceeding 250 seats. Though Balkan Airlines started services to India, its operations remained suspended since November 1994 due to financial problems. Since 2002, Balkan Airlines has been liquidated. The Joint Declaration issued during the visit of Bulgarian Prime Minister to India in September 2007 mentioned the need to revive the direct air-links.

22.       A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by JS, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), and Ambassador of Bulgaria in India on an Air Services Agreement on 29th March, 2016. In terms of the Agreement, Jet Airways has been exploring possibilities for starting direct flights from India. 

Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC)

23.       In the year 2018-19, Bulgaria has been allotted 15 slots under ITEC and the uptake has been very fast by Bulgarians with utilization of 9 slots till date. In line with the MoU signed between Foreign Service Institute, New Delhi and the Bulgarian Diplomatic Academy, Bulgarian diplomats have been regularly attending Professional Course for Foreign Diplomats (PCFD) in Foreign Service Institute, New Delhi.

24.       Bulgarian nominees have also been participating in the UN Military Contingent Junior Officers Capsule (UNMCJOC) Courses at New Delhi since 2005.

*******

December 2018