Microsoft chose Greece. Google and Oracle chose Romania. Amazon chose Romania and Croatia. Toyo and Continental chose Serbia. Volkswagen chose Turkey, but then coronavirus erupted and the German giant put the brakes on the whole project. Then it chose Slovakia, along with its luxury brand Porsche. None of these companies chose Bulgaria and for most of them the country was never among the options in the first place.
This is a problem, because it leads to lower economic growth, few highly-paid jobs, reduced competition and last but not least - to even fewer investments. An influx of money tends to create more money. So everybody is poorer because nobody wants to invest money in Bulgaria.
There are many reasons for that. Some of them are obvious: Bulgaria has a bad press, often derided as a corruption hub - sadly, for good reasons. According to sources of K Insights, one American investment bank, for example, baulked at financing a local buyer for a deal in Bulgaria because of last year's Magnitsky sanctions.
But that is not all. Corruption also exists in Serbia and Romania, but big investors still go there. One big reason for that is because governments in neighboring countries give money directly to the investors. That was a main factor in Volkswagen choosing Turkey over Bulgaria in 2019.
Another reason is hidden in the judicial system. Nobody would invest in a country in which private property is not fully protected, especially for an investment in production or physical assets. In his interview with K Insights, the new Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer noted another factor: according to his early conversations with potential investors, not so long ago they did not have anyone to talk to at ministerial or prime-ministerial level. Read the interview with Lorer tomorrow on kinsights.capital.bg.
These reasons are valid for most big companies or investments, but actually the problem can be divided into two: industrial investments on one hand and IT investments on the other. The IT sector is rather different. Investments from Google, Microsoft, Amazon or Facebook are a question of prestige more than anything else, but in an overheated market, such as the Bulgarian software sector, they can also bring complications. "Fortunately", Bulgaria doesn't have to worry about something like that, because it is not even a part of the conversation.
Diagnosing the problems is important, but along with that comes the urgent need to solve them. The new administration of prime-minister Kiril Petkov says that it wants to do exactly that. Changing the strategy of Bulgaria, fixing its image and hitting measurable goals for foreign investments - and, ultimately, getting them into the country - these are the priorities for the Bulgarian economy in the coming decades.