OREANDA-NEWS. The CCI of Russia delegation led by Chamber President Sergey Katyrin has been to Bulgaria on a three-day visit.

Sergey Katyrin met with Bulgarian CCI President Tsvetan Simeonov on Tuesday, March 5, to discuss interaction between the chambers. The sides stressed the cooperation had been successful.

Business forums held within the Year of Bulgaria in Russia in 2009 were the most significant events in inter-chamber cooperation of the recent years. A Russian-Bulgarian investment forum was held in Moscow in October 2012 by the CCI of Russia and the Bulgarian Investment Agency. Contacts are developing between regions and business missions to Russian regions and trips of delegates of Russian territorial chambers to Bulgaria are being organized. The sides called for broader regional contacts, more active information exchange and engagement of small and medium companies in trade and economic cooperation.

The Bulgarian CCI hosted a roundtable titled “Russian-Bulgarian Business Cooperation Prospects”. CCI of Russia President Sergey Katyrin, Bulgarian CCI President Tsvetan Simeonov and Chairman of the Bulgarian-Russian CCI Council Board Zhelyu Dobrov greeted the audience.

Roundtable speakers stressed that Russia was a leading foreign trade partner of Bulgaria. The Russian Federal Customs Service reported 20% growth in bilateral trade in 2012 to nearly USD 5 billion. Russia had a foreign trade surplus of USD 3.6 billion.

Tourism holds an important place in economic cooperation. Bulgarian government efforts to relax visa formalities contribute to the growth of tourism. Bilateral investment cooperation is developing (Russian investments in Bulgaria topped USD 1.6 billion within ten years). Energy, agriculture, tourism, real estate, finance, infrastructure, telecommunication and construction are of interest to Russian investors.

CCI of Russia President Sergey Katyrin presented Alexander Alexandrov with the Chamber Honorary Representative to Bulgaria certificate.

The Bulgarian CCI and Expocenter signed a cooperation agreement at the roundtable.

The CCI of Russia president gave a detailed interview to the Bulgarian national television. The journalists were most interested in business conditions in Russia and prospects for Bulgarian businessmen on the Russian market. They also touched upon Russia’s membership in the Customs Union and the World Trade Organization and the macroeconomic situation.

Bilateral trade is growing, Sergey Katyrin said. Bulgarian food, cosmetics, drugs and wine are sold on the Russian market.

Full and quality information about options and needs of the sides is the main condition for Bulgarian businessmen’s success on the Russian market, the CCI of Russia president said. Every possibility, including chambers of commerce and industry, should be used to exchange business data, he said.

The sides have certain discontents. For instance, Russia wishes to diversify exports, which is mostly limited to resources. Bulgarian partners are disturbed with trade imbalance.

Sergey Katyrin linked Russia-Bulgaria relations prospects to the restoration and development of cooperation and tourism. It is important to take part in exhibitions and fairs in Russia and Bulgaria. Naturally, regional cooperation is a priority of bilateral relations. The CCI of Russia noted, for instance, that the Days of Bulgaria in Russia, which are regularly held in Russian regions, have proved their worth. It is not accidental that the delegation visiting Bulgaria included heads of three territorial chambers – from Voronezh, Kursk and Tula.

A press conference was given at the Russian Culture and Information Center in Sofia on the same day. Sergey Katyrin answered numerous questions of Bulgarian journalists. More than 40 media outlets took part in the press conference.

The CCI of Russia delegation attended a meeting of the Council of the Bulgarian-Russian CCI Board on March 6. The sides had an animated discussion of bilateral economic cooperation ways and the roles of the CCI of Russia, the Bulgarian CCI, the Bulgarian-Russian Chamber and regional chambers. The Bulgarian CCI and its regional chambers have eight cooperation agreements with Russian territorial chambers, while the Bulgarian-Russian CCI has signed over 20 agreements. It is time to make an inventory of the agreements to rule out formal attitude to cooperation, maximize information exchange and involve more small and medium companies in trade and economic cooperation.

The sides were unanimous about the need to strengthen relations on all levels. They discussed joint activity in innovative sectors using the opportunities of European innovative project financing programs. The sides discussed a number of other issues of mutual interest.