MS. SHOULEVA HAS SPARED THE ATTACHES
BULGARIA'S TRADE REPRESENTATIVES ABROAD WILL PURSUE OLD AIMS BY NEW MEANSThe Deputy Premier and recently appointed Minister of Economy Lidiya Shouleva showed sparingness to Bulgaria's trade attaches, who had been singled out for dismissal by the team of the former economy minister Nikolay Vassilev. Ms. Shouleva showed her mercy during the regular annual meeting of Bulgaria's 63 business representatives in 48 countries worldwide, held on August 6 at the Boyana residence. The expectations for replacements were feeded by the fact that the former deputy minister of economy Milen Keremedchiev had prepared a special report with personal evaluations of each trade representative. According to well-informed sources, the document proposed dismissal of four heads of departments for trade and economic relations abroad. Inofficial information has it that these were Bulgaria's trade representatives in Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. The poor marks which the trade attaches got when attesting them were pointed out as a motive for the projected dismissals.In front of a reporter of the BANKER weekly Mr. Keremedchiev said that those who got poor marks (editor's note - the rating of attaches was based on six) have been accredited to countries which will soon join the EU and in Balkan countries as well. However, he refused to mention names. However, he specified that Oleg Dimitrov who works in Kuwait, and Dobrina Vicheva who is responsible for the promotion of Bulgaria's commecial contacts with South Korea, were among the outstanding trade representatives. The former manager of the Redvik company Georgi Ivanov who was appointed Bulgaria's trade representative in New York in February 2003, also deserved special praise. He replaced there Stamen Tassev, who was appointed Deputy Finance Minister during the week. Mr. Tassev was recalled due to his conflict with his former chief Mr. Keremedchiev, about which the BANKER weekly wrote in detail in March 2003. Whatever the contents of the above-mentioned report, it will hardly matter much, having in mind that the document has been entirely disregarded by Ms. Shouleva's team. It is not yet known if the contest for new trade attaches to Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq and Iran, invited by the former team of the Ministry of Economy, will continue. When the ministry's team was replaced in end-July the procedure had reached the stage of testing the candidates' language and computer skills. The Deputy Minister responible for the foreign trade Radoslav Bozadjiev informed the BANKER weekly that he was expecting the stance of the Human Resources department in order to decide if he would proceed with the contest, launched by his predecessor Keremedchiev. Thus, with no personal changes, the annual meeting of Bulgaria's commercial attaches turned into something like an ice-breaking conference. The feeling of leisure was strengthened by Ms. Shouleva's words that the trade representatives have not been invited in order to render accounts of their activities. Just a year ago Nikolay Vassilev asked them to assist the signing of at least one big deal with a domestic firm, bring at least one serious investor to Bulgaria, draw up a list of the 100 leading companies in the respective countries where they work, and actively participate in the preparation of state visits. According to Bulgaria's trade representative in France Arto Chirakyan, his colleagues and he have made the necessary efforts in that direction. He himself, has assisted to prepare Bulgaria's presentation in front of the boards of directors of the automobile corporations Peugeot and Citroen. Representatives of the two companies have recently visited Bulgaria in order to find suppliers of spare parts. According to Mr. Chirakyan, it is still too early to say if that would result in closing contracts. However, he is adamant that Bulgaria's position on the crisis in Iraq this winter has not influenced the attitude of the French business towards our country. As it is known, Paris was one of the most serious opponents to the military operations against Bagdad, undertaken by the USA and Great Britain. In her statement to the media after the meeting Ms. Shouleva made it clear that she would count more on a new manner of work than on personal castlings. Bulgaria's trade representatives abroad will be also relieved of some uncustomary functions in order to concentrate on the investment projects, Ms. Shouleva added without specifying what she meant. Offices of the Foreign Investment Agency will be opened abroad in order to help our trade representatives. The Deputy Premier Shouleva stressed on the necessity to improve the servicing of companies which had decided to invest money in Bulgaria's economy.