“We are back. You are Welcome!”
This was crux of what Bulgaria would like to convey to India. And this was how Sergei Stanishev, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria ended his short speech on his special visit to India.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister said that the information exchange and building of business confidence would give a thrust to economic cooperation and successful business partnership between the two countries.
He identified information and communication technology, pharmaceutical, education, food and agro processing and renewable energy as potential sectors for business and investment between India and Bulgaria.
He pointed out that Bulgaria and India shared a very special relation at the human and cultural level apart from diplomatic state level contacts.
He underlined that India was a major economic power having a large middle class of 700 million and there was a huge potential in hi-technology and education.
The Prime Minister noted that the prospects for enhancing economic ties between India and Bulgaria were tremendous.
Peter Dimitrov, Minister of Economy and Energy of Bulgaria proposed building a strategic partnership between Bulgaria and India in his presentation. Dimitrov suggested that Bulgaria can be used by Indian industry as gateway to the vast European market with its over 600 million consumers.
Anand Sharma, Minister of State for External Affairs mentioned that the present state of economic engagement between India and Bulgaria does not reflect the potential that exists. “While bilateral trade increased by 36% in 2006 to reach a level of US$ 75 million, this represents just a fraction of what the two countries can achieve given their complementarities in several areas.”
The Minster identified steel, IT, Parma, and manufacturing as areas where lot of investment opportunities existed for the two countries. Sharma added that ‘India and Bulgaria agreement’ on economic cooperation as well as an MoU between agencies promoting SMEs in the two countries will strengthen the support of the governments and enable more business exchanges.
He said the challenge was to translate opportunities into concrete business engagements and for that the two sides would have to work together to facilitate the free flow of businessmen, professionals and tourists by having an enabling visa regime.
V K Mathur, Chairman and Managing Director, Inapex Ltd & CII National Council Member said that with the changing economies and all round growth, there was much the two sides can offer in trade and investment. He emphasized on the Special Economic Zones being set up in India and invited the business houses from Bulgaria to consider the opportunities of investing in SEZs in India.
Sajjan Jindal, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, JSW Steel Ltd & Senior Vice President, ASSOCHAM highlighted the strong growth performance of the Indian economy and industry. He said that as India was emerging as knowledge based economy, Bulgaria should look at diversifying its economic relations with India especially in sectors such as IT, nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Rakesh Bakshi, Senior Member, FICCI Committee and Managing Director Vestas RRB India Ltd mentioned that because of its strategic location Bulgaria acts as a bridge between Asia and Europe. “Bulgaria could play a crucial role in augmenting India’s trade relations with the rest of Europe.” He apprised the visiting Bulgarian delegation that Indian businesses look towards Bulgaria as a gateway to access markets in East / Central Europe as well as EU.
He also added that besides forging strong links in the areas of IT, agro processing, infrastructure development and transportation, Indian companies were keen to participate in the privatization of Bulgaria.