Abundant opportunities in the Balkans

Opportunities abound for companies to pick up lucrative deals in Bulgaria and the Balkans, according to the British ambassador to Bulgaria on a recent visit to Chamber International.

Jonathan Allen outlined the huge potential for British business in Bulgaria and its neighbours during the meeting.

The ambassador agreed to be the keynote speaker at a special event on Eastern Europe being organised by Chamber International in conjunction with UK Trade & Investment later in this year. Mr Allen will bring several members of his commercial team to help locate opportunities for businesses in the city in the Balkan region.

Mr Allen, who is pioneering the East European Network in conjunction with other British embassies in the region, believes there are huge opportunities for small and medium sized companies to find profitable niches in huge transport, energy, utility and infrastructure projects taking place in the country. These include the building of water supply and waste treatment plants, gas and nuclear, road, rail and ports and sustainable construction projects. 

He adds that there are also opportunities in energy efficiency, a growing home improvement market and education which has recently been deregulated.

“Where we can help is in terms of match-making,” says Mr Allen. “Operating regionally is the key. That’s got to be the way forward.

“For a lot of companies this is a reassuring market. Some firms are maybe not ready to go to Russia or Brazil but Bulgaria has European regulations, it’s got growth and less risk.”

Bulgaria, he adds, has other key advantages such as the lowest corporate and income tax rate in the EU (10 per cent) along with a small budget deficit and a growing middle class for consumer goods. It also provides a gateway to Russia and the Balkans. The UK is already the fourth largest investor in the country and last year bilateral trade grew by a third.

English is widely spoken and Bulgaria is only three hours’ flight time from the UK.

Mr Allen is working with diplomats in neighbouring countries such as Croatia to identify and develop commercial opportunities for UK companies.