site.btaUS Ambassador Welcomes Foreign Investment Screening Legislation in Bulgaria

US Ambassador Welcomes Foreign Investment Screening Legislation in Bulgaria
US Ambassador Welcomes Foreign Investment Screening Legislation in Bulgaria
US Ambassador Kenneth Merten (BTA Photo)

US Ambassador to Bulgaria Kenneth Merten on Thursday welcomed the recent adoption of local legislation on foreign investment screening, which he described as an example of the two countries' shared goals. The diplomat argued that while the free market should be supported, not everyone goes by its standards, and sometimes assets are stolen and other offences are committed. Therefore, effective screening of foreign investment is beneficial for all countries, he said.

Ambassador Merten was speaking at a conference on economic security and investment screening, organized in Sofia by Bulgaria's Center for the Study of Democracy and the Washington-based Center for International Private Enterprise.

On February 22 Bulgaria amended its Investment Promotion Act to set up a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Inter-Agency Screening Council. Scrutinizing inbound foreign investment is considered a critical policy to ensure continuing access to productive and transparent capital flows from the G7 countries. The Screening Council is in charge of granting permission for FDI to foreign applicants who meet at least two of a set of conditions. "Screening" is defined as a procedure allowing to assess, investigate, authorize, condition, prohibit or unwind FDI. Under this law, screening will be conducted on any FDI coming from persons who are engaged in activities regulated by the Act on Administrative Regulation of Economic Activities Associated with Oil and Petroleum Products, as well as any FDI from sources in Russia or Belarus.

Thursday's conference was attended by members of the diplomatic corps in Bulgaria, including ambassadors Olesya Ilashchuk of Ukraine, Brandusa Predescu of Romania and Jes Brogaard Nielsen of Denmark, Norway's Consul General Ventsislava Yanchovska, Swiss Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Rolf Ott, Italian Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Edoardo Di Paolo, South Korean Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Cho Ji-i and Montenegrin Charge d'Affaires Radivoje Brajovic.

According to Ambassador Merten, US experience in economic security shows that the foreign investment screening procedure requires finely tuned cooperation between government departments and regulatory authorities and calls for consultation with investors. The US would like to see a transparency system in Bulgaria which enables the country to benefit from investments in research and development, among other domains, he said. He is confident that Bulgaria can achieve these goals.

Deepening and expanding investment relations with Bulgaria is a priority of the US, Ambassador Merten went on to say. He noted the dynamism of bilateral relations in culture, civil society matters and the economy. In the economic field he pointed out the progress in information and communication technology and the financial sector.

Merten believes that the US and Bulgaria have remarkable potential for cooperation in artificial intelligence and cyberspace. The two countries keep deepening and diversifying their ties, he said, adding that Washington and Sofia need effective instruments to promote security, he said. He pledged further US support to Bulgaria.

The conference seeks to answer a number of questions. Can Bulgaria strike a balance between attracting foreign investments of high value-added and implementing strict measures for economic security? How can the government reassure the business community and potential investors that the rule of law will not be compromised by investment screening? And what policy should be pursued regarding capital controlled by authoritarian regimes where ownership control and investment goals are vague?

/RY/

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By 03:40 on 14.07.2024 Today`s news

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