With over 35 years of diplomatic experience and more than five years serving as the Ambassador of Bulgaria to the Republic of Macedonia, Ivan Velikov Petkov is dedicated to strengthening the ties between the two countries. He highlights that Macedonia and Bulgaria should not be regarded as separate markets, but rather as part of the fast-developing South-East European market.
European Times: What are your priorities as an Ambassador?
Ivan Velikov Petkov: The priority of our Embassy is to nurture good neighbouring relations, as well as to support the Republic of Macedonia’s integration in EU and NATO. Furthermore, we are focused on accelerating the economic cooperation and our second important priority is to protect the interest of the Bulgarian companies which are doing business in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as to create favourable conditions for a broad range of economic activities.
European Times: How would you describe the economic cooperation between the two countries?
Ivan Velikov Petkov: Bulgaria is among the five biggest trade partners of the Republic of Macedonia. The bilateral trade volume between the two countries was around €650 million in 2015, and in the first 10 months of 2016 amounts to €420 million. Once completed, Corridor 8, which will connect Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Italy, will attract further investment and potential investors.
European Times: Which sectors are most interesting for Bulgarian investors?
Ivan Velikov Petkov: Bulgarian businesses have invested considerably in the spheres of service, trade and production. We have investments in the banking and insurance sector, with three banks – Central Cooperation Bank, UniBank and Capital Bank, and the insurance company EuroIns. In the field of commerce there is Mr.Bricolage, which is 100% owned by a Bulgarian company, as well as offices for BMW, Mini and Mazda, which are also owned by Bulgarian companies. In the field of production, we have investments in the cable factory in Negotino and in the factory Teteks Yarn in Tetovo. In the last six months, a substantial investment was made by MusalaSoft in the sector of high technology, and €20 million were invested by the energy Bulgarian company Minstroy for the concession of the mines Zletovo and Toranica through the local company Bulmak 2016. Investments have also been made in the market of security through the Bulgarian company Sectron.
European Times: What is your personal message for potential investors?
Ivan Velikov Petkov: I encourage all to come and visit this part of South-East Europe, which offers breathtakingly beautiful nature, a rich cultural heritage, and an excellent climate for doing business. Additionally, I would recommend potential investors to study the laws and the local legislation, as well as to select a proper local company as a partner and to find capable lawyers who will help them navigate through the specific regulations and legislations. Also, potential investors should use the knowledge and experience of the economic and trade offices of the Embassy and other organizations, such as the Macedonian-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.