Ljubljana, 12 May (STA) - Trade between Slovenia and Bulgaria fell significantly in 2009 and the two economies need get back to the previous level of cooperation, Bulgarian Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Traycho Traykov told a business conference in Ljubljana on Wednesday.
"Great interest proves that there is still a lot of room for improving economic cooperation between the two countries," Traykov, who is visiting Slovenia with a strong business delegation, pointed out at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).
Economy Ministry State Secretary Darja Radic agreed that economic cooperation was too scarce, but hailed the fact that the existing cooperation was very diverse.
Slovenian and Bulgarian companies cooperate or have interest in cooperating in telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, energy, IT, food industry, logistics, trade and services, tourism etc, she noted.
GZS president Zdenko Pavcek attributed the drop in trade in 2009 to the economic crisis. "The economic crisis struck Slovenian-Bulgarian cooperation hard, with Slovenian exports in the first 11 months of 2009 reaching only EUR 112.9m, a drop of over 30% year-on-year, and imports dropping to EUR 46.3m, which is 64% less year-on-year."
To reverse the trend, Traykov stressed that Bulgaria wanted to become more attractive for foreign direct investments and cooperation of companies, and therefore simplify procedures for international economic cooperation.
Furthermore, the country's single tax rate of 10% is one of the lowest in Europe, he stressed and added that this would not be changed, as Bulgaria had one of the lowest deficits in the EU.
Traykov highlighted tourism as an area where cooperation should be boosted, while noting that roads in Bulgaria might be an obstacle, as no major investments were made there in the last 20 years. He added however that efforts for improvements are underway.
Traykov further said Bulgaria also encourages FDIs in manufacturing, renewable energy, services, research and development, education, health care and IT.
Bulgaria gets most FDIs from Austria, the Netherlands and Greece, while Slovenia ranks 28th with largest investors into Bulgaria being power producer HSE, the NLB bank, financial group KD and retailer Mercator, head of Invest Bulgaria agency Borislav Stefanov explained.