Foreign Minister Kalfin Confers with Chairman of Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chief Toshiba Official Okamura

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Foreign Minister Kalfin Confers with Chairman of Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chief Toshiba Official Okamura

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin conferred Tuesday with
Chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of Toshiba Board of Directors Tadashi Okamura, who is also Co-chairman of the EU-Japan Business Dialogue Round Table, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.

On Sunday Kalfin opened a four-day official visit to Japan, BTA reports.

Kalfin acquainted Okamura with the investment climate and economic situation in Bulgaria and the advantages for the business after his country joined the EU. Kalfin noted that now is the time for the Japanese business and investments to come to Bulgaria as the country is already part of the large European market. The Bulgarian Foreign Minister recalled that Bulgaria's business climate is favourable due to the currency board arrangement in place already ten years, the low unemployment
rate, fast economic growth and low taxes.

Kalfin said that energy, transport and high technologies are three of the sectors with priority significance for investment. He also stressed the availability of skilled and motivated workforce for these and other sectors of the Bulgarian economy.

The two officials shared the view that the future of investment is in small- and medium-sized enterprises. A good example for such an investment is the project of the Japanese Yazaki Corporation which is building a plant for electric cables for the automotive industry in Yambol, Southern Bulgaria. Yazaki invested about 20 million euros in the plant, which is to go into operation in the spring of 2009.

Tadashi Okamura listed Toshiba's priorities in Bulgaria, in particular the participation in the project for the rehabilitation of the Maritsa-East II thermo-electric power plant. The Japanese official noted that the Japanese businesses are not sufficiently informed about the new opportunities for investment and business in Bulgaria. The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry is going to provide assistance in the promotion of business contacts and exchange of information between the two countries.

Later in the day Kalfin conferred with Kazuyoshi Terashima, Chairman of the Japanese-Bulgarian Economic Committee and Senior Advisor of Ebara Corporation.

The Bulgarian Foreign Minister said that after his country joined the EU, the business operates in a market of nearly 500 million people and by coming to Bulgaria a Japanese company will have a presence also in the EU and in the Balkan region. Kalfin promised that Bulgaria will make available as much information as possible about the new business opportunities. He said that an important priority of the government next year is increasing the resources for research and development. Kalfin invited Japanese companies to take part in joint R&D projects in Bulgaria.

Kazuyoshi Terashima said that a promising sector for investment is biofuels and suggested the implementation of a joint project in Bulgaria. He said that Bulgaria is an interesting location
for the production of automotive parts, adding that Japan has car-making plants in the EU and the Balkans.

Kalfin stressed that Bulgaria maintains excellent trade and economic ties with its neighbours on the Balkans, which he described as a great asset. Another advantage is the fact that Bulgaria borders on the Danube and the Black Sea and that four Pan-European transport corridors go via its territory.

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