he Chairman of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) Vasil Velev attended the extraordinary meeting and the Assembly of International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (ICIE) on December 3 and 4. The event, held in Moscow, was attended by more than 120 delegates, business representatives from 21 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Asia.

The participants were presented the status and prospects of relations between the business community of the Russian Federation and partners – members of the International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Possibilities for cooperation between the ICIE and business organizations and associations from countries in the Far East and Asia Pacific were discussed, as well as revision of the Statute in order to improve its activities and its further functioning. At the meeting, the organization welcomed a number of new members, business associations from the Asia-Pacific region.

During the Assembly, the President of the Bulgarian Employers’ Organization presented the business expectations for the development of our economy. According to him for 2019, the economy is expected to grow at around 3.5%, unemployment to fall below 4% and income growth to jump by over 10%. According to the EC’s autumn forecast, the Bulgarian economy will maintain a relatively high rate of development and in the next 2 years – about 3%. This ranks Bulgaria 5th out of 28 EU countries, after Malta, Romania, Ireland and Poland, whose economies are expected to grow by 4.2 – 3.2% with an expected growth of 1.4% across the EU. Vassil Velev stressed that our economy is growing twice as fast as the EU average, but in order to bring the standard of living of Western European countries closer to the foreseeable future, we must grow at least 3-4 times faster.

“Our cooperation with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs is developing mainly within the ICEEU network, and we would like to expand it, as well as our bilateral relations with Russia, not only in relation to major energy projects, but also at medium level. and why not small businesses, ”said Vassil Velev.

According to data presented by him, Russian investments in Bulgaria by 2018 are over 2 billion euros, but of them – for the last 5 years they are only 345 million euros. In 2012-2013 Russia challenged the first place in trade with Germany, and at the end of this year. is sixth after Germany, Romania, Italy, Turkey and Greece. We also report a decline in the tourist flow. In 2013 Bulgaria was visited by 696 thousand Russian tourists from over 9 million foreign tourists. At the end of 2018, they were down to 522,000 by over 12 million foreign tourists. The situation in the real estate sector is similar. If in 2011-2013 Russian citizens bought in the order of 10-13 thousand apartments in Bulgaria, today they are more like net sellers. According to Vassil Velev, the sanctions that Russia and the EU have exchanged have contributed to the insufficiently strong economic relations between the countries. He stressed that in a formal opinion the BICA had announced their complete abolition and development of natural economic links between the economies of the European Union and the Russian Federation.

The BICA Chairman also expressed positive expectations of the Bulgarian business in case of implementation of two major energy projects – Gas Hub Balkan and Belene NPP. He was adamant that it was important for our country to have secure gas supplies at competitive prices. “We believe this will be achieved through healthy competition from Russian, Azeri, Tatar, American and other companies. Concerning the construction of Belene NPP, the business in Bulgaria is adamant that the project should be implemented on a market basis – without guaranteed preferential prices and long-term contracts for obligatory purchase, without state guarantees for payment of the investment, ”added Vassil Velev.

About the ICIE

International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs is a non-governmental non-governmental organization established in 1992. Currently, it is a member of national unions of industrialists and entrepreneurs from 28 European and Asian countries, and more than 100 international companies and organizations from different industries are partners in Congress. The main purpose of Congress is to develop scientific, industrial, investment programs and projects that contribute to strengthening the economic and industrial potential of the regions in which its members operate.