site.btaUPDATED Sofia Hosts Conference on 10th Anniversary of Belt and Road Initiative
Sofia is hosting a two-day conference on the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative for closer cooperation between the EU and China. Participating are deputy ministers of Bulgaria and China, and diplomats.
Deputy Economy and Industry Minister Nikolay Pavlov said that the bilateral trade grew by nearly 20% in 2022 compared to 2021. “We view the development of Bulgaria-China trade and economic relations in the context of Bulgaria’s full EU membership and the fact that China is a strategic partner for Bulgaria and the EU, as well as within the Belt and Road Initiative for cooperation between China and the countries in Central and East Europe,” he specified. Bulgarian businesses have a lasting interest in broadening the export to China, Pavlov added.
Bulgaria welcomes Chinese companies interested in establishing production facilities and R&D centres here and in entering the EU market. The Ministry of Economy and Industry is ready to support Chinese companies wishing to invest here in sectors providing high value added and increased economic competitiveness, Pavlov said. Bulgaria will support all initiatives in the interest of effective bilateral cooperation, he noted.
An address to the forum was read out on behalf of Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Deng Li.
In an address to the forum read out on his behalf, President Rumen Radev said that holding such forums shows Bulgaria's strategic place for the Chinese business in Europe. "Such events are extremely important also because of the exceptionally complex geopolitical situation in the region, which is reshuffling the global supply chains in an ever more globalized and new-realities-led world," the address reads. According to Radev, despite the challenges on a global scale, Bulgaria registers an increase in foreign direct investments and remains open to the development of new business relations and capital investments. China is Bulgaria's second export partner outside of the EU and the biggest Asian one, Radev noted.
Chinese Ambassador to Bulgaria Dong Xiaojun said that Bulgaria joined the Belt and Road Initiative in 2015, and trade exchange has increased since then. This is a wonderful platform for strategic partnership between the EU and China, he added.
National Assembly Deputy Chair Rositsa Kirova said that both Bulgaria and the EU need China as a solid partner. "Let not only trade relations mark our path: let us make the world a more secure place," she said. According to her, Bulgaria can be a solid bridge in EU-China relations.
Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry head Tsvetan Simeonov said that Wednesday's forum shows development of the Belt and Road Initiative on Bulgarian territory. "The prospect before China and the initiative itself are huge. The way it is implemented along all routes on the Silk Road is quite promising," he commented. In his words, China's economy is moving at a fast pace, and the bilateral relations with Bulgaria are developing successfully.
Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association head Vasil Velev noted that China is Bulgaria's sixth partner in terms of trade, but in the last several years the investments in Bulgaria have been in the negative.
The conference is organized by One Belt One Road Bulgarian National Association and Slavyani Foundation in partnership with the Chinese Center for Contemporary World Studies, the Belt and Road Studies Network, and the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs.