In Sofia, a Bulgarian – Canadian Business Forum “Why Canada?” was held, organized under the auspices of the Canadian Embassy in Bucharest, accredited for Bulgaria. The forum was organized thanks to the excellent partnership between the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Canadian-Bulgarian Business Network and the National Business Network. The focus of the event was the disclosure of all benefits for the Bulgarian and Canadian businesses from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada, which entered into force on 21 September 2017.
In his opening speech, the President of BCCI Tsvetan Simeonov stressed that BCCI supports the Agreement because it provides new opportunities, access to a market that has been slightly used until now, with an exceptionally good economic environment, and is a prerequisite for excellent cooperation.
Bulgaria’s EU accession was a big, important and complicated step that required a lot of efforts, Mr. Simeonov said, but the result shows the viability of Bulgarian business and its adaptability. CETA is another challenge with many positive expectations, which according to BCCI will be far exceeded. The Agreement is a mutually beneficial deal and will bring many economic benefits which, however, will take place over time.
The President of the Canadian-Bulgarian Business Network Matey Nedkov also addressed the participants – more than 120 representatives of Bulgarian companies, business organizations, institutions, diplomats and the media. He said that there are already positive outcomes for Canadian consumers – the prices of goods with EU origin have decreased by up to 40%.
H.E. Kevin Hamilton, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada, accredited for Bulgaria, Romania and the Republic of Moldova, informed that this year Canada marks 150 years since Confederation, and recently the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Canada was marked. He gave several examples of successful businessmen in Canada of Bulgarian origin. Tens of thousands of Bulgarians live and work in the maple leaf country. He pointed out that Bulgaria is a good place for business and investment, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada is another plus for entrepreneurship.
Ambassador Hamilton cited some direct benefits to the Bulgarian society and concluded that the Agreement aims to build bridges and connections rather than walls and obstacles.
Deputy Minister Georg Georgiev welcomed the participants on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva. He stressed that CETA creates a new framework for the development of relations at different levels and spheres between the EU and Canada. As of 1 December, the visa restrictions between Bulgaria and Canada will also be lifted.
Statistical data and the economic realities of Bulgaria and Canada were presented in three consecutive panels, as well as what CETA will give, what is expected of the businesses in both countries, real and possible investment. The audience also took part in a very lively discussion with questions, positions and examples.
The event was supported by Bulgarian and Canadian organizations.