Fandakova: Sofia produces one third of Bulgarian exports
Sofia will join the European cities network in support of start-up companies, Startup City Alliance Europe
“Sofia produces 40 percent of the GDP in the country and one-third of Bulgarian exports”, said the Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova at the conference "Business Sofia 2018 - Digital Horizons". The forum was organized by the Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (SOAPI) and was dedicated to the benefits and opportunities for the Bulgarian business in implementing a digital single market, the challenges of staffing and the economic and financial programs of the European Union. The conference was attended by the top 100 companies in Sofia and special guests were European Commissioner Maria Gabriel, MEP Andrey Novakov, the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Biser Petkov and Hewlett Packard Director General for Bulgaria, Iravan Hira.
“Sofia is the largest regional economy and in the recent years the capital increasingly and convincingly proves to be an attractive place for investment”, said Mayor Yordanka Fandakova
“Sofia is working to develop partnerships with other cities. Through the Municipal Investment Agency, we are negotiating Sofia to join the European cities network in support of start-up companies - SCALE (Startup City Alliance Europe) where the leading partner is the city of Amsterdam”, said also Yordanka Fandakova.
Information technologies are among the fastest growing industries in Sofia. Sofia has established itself as one of the most dynamic start-up environments in Central and Eastern Europe. The Sofia Municipal Investment Agency works on projects and specific cases with more than 80 Bulgarian and foreign companies and has managed to present the opportunities of Sofia as a business destination in countries of the European Union, South Korea and Scandinavia. The first major City2City project is a fact and Bulgarian entrepreneurs can take advantage of the program's terms and present their products in London, as well as the London business can open offices in Sofia. There is already Sofiiska banitsa in London. A similar project with the Austrian capital, Vienna is at hand.
The EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel, whose line is digital economy and a digital society, presented the challenges to personal data security and EU policies in this area. She presented before the business, the ambitious task of the EU to conclude the negotiations on all 25 Digital Single Market proposals by the end of the year. Her team is trying to speed up negotiations on the proposed Directive on copyright protection, to offer a European strategy for AI and maintaining communication with the companies, depending on the regulations of Brussels. She urged Bulgarian companies to be active and to participate in all EU projects explaining in concrete steps how this participation could become real.
Minister Biser Petkov presented data indicating that the unemployment rate in the country is 6,9% and that the employment rate has increased - 72.1%. He reminded that the goal is in 2020 to achieve a level of employment of 75% of the population. For 2017, more jobs were registered - 240,000 - mainly in the manufacturing industry.
According to analysts, 2018 will have better economic indicators than 2017 and the expected growth is about 4.4%, said Vladimir Danailov, CEO of SOAPI. He reminded that last year the GDP reached 3.6%, driven mainly by domestic consumption and exports. This year, investments of local and foreign investors in capacity, staff development, modernization, efficiency and new markets are expected to line up to these factors. The growth structure of our economy is becoming more balanced. Investment in the private sector has increased by about 7% on an annual basis (in 2017) in real terms. Expectations for 2018 are all components of private investment to report growth, said Danailov.