/ Bulgaria-China Business Forum Held by APACCCEEC on June 17th


On June 17, 2024, APACCCEEC organized a Bulgaria-China business forum in Sofia. The event was held on the occasion of the visit of a delegation from the Shanghai Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT Shanghai) and the Chamber of International Commerce Shanghai (COIC Shanghai) in Bulgaria.

The delegation was headed by Mr. Yang Dongsheng, Vice Chairman of CCPIT Shanghai/COIC Shanghai, and Ms. Wang Lei, Secretary General of the same chamber. The accompanying business delegation comprised companies from the sectors of food chains, customs service and food import/export, automotive industry, AI and autonomous motor vehicles, intelligent lighting, construction, as well as exhibitions.

The event attracted robust interest, with more than 120 attendees from the Bulgarian and Chinese side, including representatives of the business community, the non-governmental and the governmental sector.

Speeches during the opening of the forum were delivered by: Mr. Georgi Tahov, Ph.D., Minister of Agriculture and Food; H.E. Mrs. Dai Qinli, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Bulgaria; Mr. Nikolay Pavlov, Deputy Minister of Economy and Industry; Mr. Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mrs. Mila Nenova, Executive Director of the InvestBulgaria Agency, delivered a presentation to the audience. The event was moderated by Mr. Valentin Katrandjiev, Ph.D., from the Bulgarian Diplomatic Institute under the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. In the forum participated also Mrs. Tаnya Georgieva, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food.

The official representatives emphasized the importance of the forum for the current year 2024, which marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and China.

In his opening address, Dr. Georgi Tahov, Minister of Agriculture and Food, noted the increase in bilateral agricultural trade between Bulgaria and China in 2023 – a total of USD 640.6 million, i.e. up by 37.4% compared to 2022. In 2023, the positive trade balance for Bulgaria reached an approximate USD 395 million. Minister Tahov also emphasized the important role of the Association for the Promotion of Agricultural Cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries (APACCCEEC) and highlighted successful projects of the Association, such as the creation and development of demonstration zones and pavilions for agricultural products.

As the host of the event, Dr. Momchil Stanishev, Director of APACCCEEC, underscored the variety of ways in which Bulgaria and China have managed to develop their bilateral relations over the years, focusing on the story of the Bulgarian artist Marin Varbanov, founder of an institute for contemporary textile art at the Chinese fine arts academy in Hangzhou. He took note of the growth in agricultural trade between the two countries and pointed out that APACCCEEC has the mission of supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in this respect. The director of APACCCEEC further expressed his belief that successful Bulgarian-Chinese cooperation can be built on small, but lasting and sustainable joint projects and wished a lot of success to the participants in the forum and the B2B meetings.

H.E. Mrs. Dai Qinli, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to the Republic of Bulgaria, noted that in 2023 China’s GDP exceeded 16 trillion euros, and that the Chinese market is large and offers significant opportunities. In 2023, an expansion of Bulgarian exports to China was observed, which has shrunk Bulgaria’s negative balance in the country’s trade with China. According to Ambassador Dai Qingli, in China’s agricultural trade Bulgaria enjoys a top position among CEE countries.

Mr. Nikolay Pavlov, Deputy Minister of Economy and Industry, noted that for 2023, trade between Bulgaria and China amounted to approximately 4 billion US dollars and Bulgarian exports went up by nearly 33% on an annual basis. According to him, there are opportunities to attract Chinese investments in sectors in which Bulgaria has traditional advantages and which provide high value-added.

Mr. Yang Dongsheng, Vice Chairman of CCPIT Shanghai and COIC Shanghai, pointed out that in 2023, Shanghai’s regional GDP amounted to over 4.7 trillion yuan, and the city ranks first among China’s economic hub cities. Shanghai is also one of the most popular investment destinations for foreign capital. According to Mr. Yang Dongsheng, Bulgarian rose, yogurt, and Bulgarian wine enjoy a high reputation in China.

In her presentation, Mrs. Wang Lei, Secretary General of COIC Shanghai, pointed out that CCPIT Shanghai and COIC Shanghai are active in areas such as trade and investment promotion, trade fairs as well as legal services. In 2023, CCPIT Shanghai hosted over 80 visits from over 40 countries and regions. In the field of international exhibitions and fairs, a special structure is established – SIEC Group, which organized over 50 exhibitions in 2023 and attracted over 12,000 visitors. The activities of the two institutions in the area of arbitration were presented as well.

Mrs. Mila Nenova, Executive Director of the InvestBulgaria Agency, emphasized in her presentation the advantages of Bulgaria as an investment destination. She noted that currently, Chinese investments in Bulgaria amount to about 150 million euros, and there are 3 certified projects under the Investment Promotion Act, which is indicative of untapped potential in this area. Mrs. Nenova stressed the opportunities for Chinese investment in fast-growing sectors in Bulgaria, also highlighting a recent Chinese investment project in Bulgaria in the manufacturing of parts for the automotive industry.

In his speech, Mr. Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, focused on the importance of the sectors which the visiting Chinese companies, members of the delegation from Shanghai, represent, thereby calling on the Chinese companies to consider the possibility of investing in Bulgaria.

During the forum, some of the Chinese companies presented their activities, including: Shanghai Oujian Network Development Group Co., Ltd. (customs service, transportation, logistics, e-commerce, etc.), Shanghai Guide Technology Co.,Ltd. (lighting), Shanghai Westwell Technology Co., Ltd. (port automation, unmanned heavy-duty trucks) and Shanghai Xiangguan Digital Technology Co., Ltd. (exhibitions).

On the sidelines of the business forum, a cooperation agreement was signed between APACCCEEC and the Chamber of International Commerce Shanghai.

Following the official part of the forum, bilateral business meetings took place between Bulgarian companies and the Chinese companies from the Shanghai area.