The Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum held its annual meeting with foreign ambassadors today
Following the success of the previous editions of the initiative, the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF) held its annual meeting with foreign ambassadors for the fifth year on 1 July 2021. The event traditionally provides a platform for exchange of views between the private sector, the diplomatic corps and senior representatives of the executive. The motto this year was Bulgarian Business Recovery: Plans and Perspectives.
Official speakers included Svetlan Stoev, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Assen Vassilev, Minister of Finance, Irena Mladenova, Deputy Minister of Economy, and Zaritsa Dinkova, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the diplomatic partner of the meeting was German Ambassador Christoph Eichhorn. The discussion was attended by heads of missions and senior diplomats of 33 countries, as well as CEOs of more than 40 leading companies from BBLF‘s responsible business community.
The event was powered by diamond partner British American Tobacco, silver partners Penkov, Markov and Partners Law Firm, Alaric Securities, Astelas Pharma, CEZ Bulgaria, and bronze partners Dundee Precious Metals Chelopech, Lidl Bulgaria, PwC Bulgaria, Titan Machinery Bulgaria.
„Our meeting today once again aims to foster dialogue between the private sector, the caretaker cabinet and the diplomatic corps on current developments in Bulgaria’s economic and social environment which have provided food for thought and plenty of opportunities. The pandemic has led to a global process of repair and the challenge for Bulgaria is to make the most of its chances and realise its potential in a number of economic sectors,“ BBLF Chairman Levon Hampartzoumian said at the opening.
„BBLF has worked for 23 years now to improve the business climate and make Bulgaria a good place to invest, work and live in and to this end we have worked with all stakeholders. Foreign diplomats are our natural allies in the effort to promote this country's strengths and advantages,“ said Maxim Behar, BBLF Board member and CEO of M3 Communications Group, Inc., who moderated the meeting.
Every year the event is held in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Svetlan Stoev, Foreign Minister of the caretaker cabinet had this to say: „Following the negative experience of the initial stages of the Covid-19 crisis, industries and governments committed to bringing strategic manufacturing back to Europe, and reshoring opens good prospects for Bulgarian businesses. Economic recovery and sustainability that would lead to security and lasting prosperity are high on the agenda now. As an active participant in European and global policies in the field of carbon neutral economy, digital and green transition, Bulgaria and Bulgarian diplomacy support the development of public and private partnerships with the active participation of Bulgarian business and civil society.”
This year's diplomatic partner was German Ambassador Christoph Eichhorn who highlighted this country's strengths: not just low taxes and a skilled workforce, but also positive developments in areas such as digital technologies and environmentally friendly start-ups. He quoted a recent survey of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce that indicated more than 90% of German investors in Bulgaria are satisfied with their investment and would do it again.
Finance Minister Assen Vassilev emphasised the task facing Bulgaria: how to best invest public money. In his view investments in education and retraining of the workforce and retooling the industry would prepare this country for the future. We have our strengths: a booming IT sector, ingenuity and unconventional thinking, and we are used to change which helps find solutions in challenging times.
Deputy Economy Minister Irena Mladenova dwelled on the priorities of the ministry's team which include the development of logistics infrastructure and the support and promotion of small and medium enterprises.
The discussion was also joined by Anton Panayotov, Deputy Chairman of BBLF and executive director of Alaric Securities, Vladimir Penkov, Chairman and Senior Partner at Penkov, Markov & Partners Law Firm, and BBLF Board members Milena Dragijska-Dencheva, CEO of Lidl Bulgaria and Bojidar Neytchev, Partner and Deals Leader SEE at PwC Bulgaria.
The foreign diplomats and the business community had the opportunity to share views with the members of the cabinet and exchanged experience and contacts at the cocktail.