site.btaUS Ambassador: Bulgaria Is Among the European Countries that Are Most Vulnerable to Corrosive Capital
US Ambassador Kenneth Merten said that multiple studies show that Bulgaria is among the European countries that are the most vulnerable to corrosive capital flows. He was among the speakers at a round table titled "Corrosive Capital and Investment Screening" held in Sofia by the Centre for the Study of Democracy and the Washington-based Centre for International Private Enterprise. The diplomat hailed the establishment by the Bulgarian government of a working group for screening investment and the progress in the preparation of relevant legislation in keeping with the EU regulation.
The events sought to answer questions such as why Bulgaria lacks an effective screening mechanism for foreign direct investment and what steps are needed to develop an effective screening mechanism for foreign investments in Bulgaria.
Ambassador Merten also said that Bulgaria has great economic potential to increase high-value foreign direct investment. "Creating a robust investment screening program will not only improve Bulgaria's national security but it will also increase the business climate as well", he added. He said that Bulgaria can use the experience of his country before it sets in place its own mechanism.
He said he would encourage the Bulgarian government to meet early in the drafting process with the business community and civil society to ensure broad acceptance of any investment screening legislation. The Ambassador recommended considering other steps that the Bulgarian government could take, particularly the protection of critical infrastructure, including the energy grid, defense systems, and IT infrastructure. He urged Bulgaria to use existing tools such as the Public Procurement Act to mitigate the security risks associated with foreign interference in these sectors.
He pointed out that one of the embassy's top priorities is increasing bilateral trade and creating more good jobs in both Bulgaria and the United States. He said that his country strongly supports efforts to increase direct investment in Bulgaria and added that one needs to be aware of the fact that foreign investment is not always benign.