BULGARIA OFFERS MANY OPPORTUNITIES
I would like to assure you that the Bulgarian Government will continue to work for improvement of the business environment in the country, will support and encourage all investments and initiatives, which are to the interest of Bulgaria and the US, Deputy Premier and Minister of Economy Lidiya Shouleva said at the opening of the second trade and investment mission between the two countries. The event, held in June 7-10, was attended by 17 US companies, interested mainly in agricultural business, and the foods and drinks industry. The turnover of bilateral trade is currently symbolic for the US and insufficiently satisfactory for Bulgaria, although the exchange of goods goes up, Ms. Shouleva pointed out. Data show that in the last years invetsments of US companies i Bulgaria amounted to just USD300MN. Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture and Forests Mehmed Dikme announced that according to preliminary figures, the exchange of agricultural plots of land between Bulgaria in 2003 was worth USD51.3MN, up 15% year-on-year.Ms. Shouleva pointed out that our country offers a great potential for cooperation in trade, investments in environmentally-friendly production, and in the foods and food-processing industry. She presented the measures, undertaken by the Government, for the promotion of Bulgarian economy. The most important among them are the reduction of corporate tax by 4% to 19,5% in 2004, and its projected decrease by another 4.5% in 2005. Agricultural producers who reinvest their profit in unprocessed plant and animal production, including beekeping, river fishing, and greenhouse production, will pay just 6% as a tax on profit. The VAT recovery term will be reduced significantly. According to Lidiya Shouleva, it is a great advantage that the Bulgarian legislation has been amended in a way that will enable foreigners to buy agricultural lands and make greenfield investments in the agricultural sector.According to the Vice-Premier, there are lots of unoccupied niches that need to be processed, such as trading in forest fruit, mushroom, herbs, and some foods specific for the region. Among the concrete partnership opportunities there are distribution of products already well accepted in the United States, long-term procurement of ecologically clean production, as well as shareholding in existing enterprises particularly in the wine-growing industry. The Deputy Minister of Economy Radoslav Bozadzhiev announced that import duties on hard drinks and wine from the US are scheduled to decrease as part of a strategy to give the European and American producers equal treatment. However, duty on the import of US beer is not subject to reduction, because the States have not put up the question during the negotiations and that duty is quite modest, Mr. Bozadzhiev added.