Foreign investment in Bulgaria: Opportunities in the pandemic period


Foreign investment in Bulgaria: Opportunities in the pandemic period

One month before the end of 2020, we can say that there has been a kind of vortex between the world before and during the Covid-19 pandemic and what will follow it from now on.

The transformation of entire industries, globally, is already underway and this will inevitably have an increasingly tangible impact on what is happening in Bulgaria and, of course, on the Bulgarian economy. As is well known, the biggest stimulus for the growth of our economy is local and foreign investment, which, despite the current stagnation, has serious growth potential. Growth that is most noticeable in high value-added industries.

"Times are uncertain, but the pandemic has created more opportunities and possibilities for high technologies," Ivan Mihailov, a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, told Radio Bulgaria in an interview. "In general, the IT sector was not affected much on a negative level. I would say that it happened, rather the opposite,. Most companies in the sector, the automotive industry and other high value-added industries, are planning to expand their production and offer various additional activities and services. Parent companies want to expand their activities in Bulgaria because the environment here presents greater flexibility. The labour market is bigger, unlike in 2019, when we faced some difficulties. At that time there was talk of importing staff, of overheating the economy, but now there is a climate of normalisation, which does not lead to a drastic contraction in the high value-added business sector. The outlook ,for 2021, shows a trend of retention in some enterprises and expansion in others."

Although he still does not consider it a stable trend, Ivan Mikhailov says there is an increase in the number of Bulgarians who have chosen to return to continue working in Bulgaria.

"There are several reasons for this. Others are influenced by the pandemic situation in the world, as well as the online environment that allows working from anywhere. Access to staff is now more flexible, as companies themselves now have the knowledge that their employees can work from different places, which is extremely positive."

The emigration of at least 2 million Bulgarians created a significant shortage of skilled personnel. Filling this gap is taking a long time and even threatens the survival of certain professions. The pandemic has temporarily postponed the need to import workers, but once it is over, it will be back on the agenda, so the search for a lasting solution must continue. For the time being, the human resources market remains dynamic, Ivan Mikhailov argues.

According to him, one of the initiatives that would help overcome the difficulties in securing supplies and the labour market is nearshoring. This is a project that brings together 14 bilateral chambers in Bulgaria, which are working with the Ministry of Economy and the Bulgarian Investment Agency. The aim is to position Bulgaria well in the global process of returning production to our country and other countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe.

Their work focuses on two directions - "Mechatronics" and "Chemical Industry".

Along with the automotive and IT industries, Bulgaria needs to deepen its development in sectors such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, where there is strong potential for successful investment. In the next programming period of the Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027), the EU has targeted resources for investment in these specific sectors. For this reason, it is important for Bulgaria not to miss the opportunity, but to make the most of it.


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