ABA Consultant Peter Loeschl: Austria Convenient Place for Bulgarian Firms to Go Int'l
An interview with Mr Peter Loeschl, consultant CEE at the Austrian Business Agency, for "International Survey: Bulgaria-Austria" of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) & Novinite.bg.
You paid a visit to Bulgaria at the beginning of March for attending a forum on Austria's business opportunities. What impressions did you take home?
I have a long "relation" with Bulgaria and specifically Sofia – I keep coming to Bulgaria since 1991. It is encouraging to see the progress having been made since then. With regard to the results of the Business Forum: it was impressive to see the interest of Bulgarian business men and women in "go international" and was very good to establish new contacts.
Why do companies choose Austria as a base for their business operations? Which are the success factors that make the country a profitable location?
There are many reasons, among them: predictability and stability of the legal and tax systems, a highly motivated workforce, well trained people, long standing experience with companies from Eastern Europe, highly developed innovation "mood" in the industry, customers with high spending power (very high GDP per capita)
Where do you see Austria's advantages in international comparison?
From a Bulgarian company point of view, it is the location in the "heart" of Europe, the quality of living (Nr.1 in Europe), the access to 100 Mio. potential German speaking customers and the compatibility of the banking system.
What can Austria offer to Bulgarian companies, who want to expand their operations? From which sectors of Bulgaria's economy do you expect these companies to be?
There is no limitation to any specific sector – any industry, which wants to stay competitive and wants to stay ahead in technology and performance has to become international, and Austria is a convenient place for companies from Bulgaria to start this process – quick and predictable processes for setting up a company, access to even Bulgarian speaking lawyers and tax advisers, access to a well working infrastructure (communication, transportation per rail, lorry and air, health, innovation...)
What is the role of ABA-Invest in Austria (ABA) in this process as a consulting company, set up by the Republic of Austria?
The mandate of ABA is to find, motivate and support foreign investors to invest in Austria free of charge as a service of the Republic of Austria. Thus ABA helps to find in Austria the right location, the proper people, the right first contacts to establish the business, contacts to the banks and lawyer, tax adviser if necessary, gives advice on legal and trade law aspects, makes connection to the local authorities for administrative purposes, supports access to other government agencies (as for R&D or financing) and continues the support during the ramp up phase. Since the services are free of charge, all advice and help is unbiased.
What do you think is the formula for success of Bulgarian companies, who are considering stepping on Austria's market? Is it all about innovate and cheap goods and services?
A competitive product, a good business case and some stamina is part of this formula, but also the contact to ABA very early.
What should Bulgarian companies be aware of before taking the step of entering Austria? Where do they need advance preparations and extra vigilance to avoid making huge mistakes?
It is very advisable to have a well-considered business plan in advance.
Austria is one of the biggest investors in Bulgaria. How does the country rank in terms of the amount of Austria's investments in Southeastern Europe?
Austrian companies have per end of 2010 the amount of EUR 4.1 B invested in Bulgaria, whereas the investment in all of Central and Eastern Europe is EUR 58.4 B. That means that more than 7% of the overall CEE investment has been performed in Bulgaria.
Predictability, macroeconomic stability and low labor costs are advantages that Bulgaria has. But is this enough to attract foreign investors?
Difficult for me to say, I think it needs good infrastructure as well as authorities, who understand the need of foreign investors in order to create an investment climate.
Can Bulgaria expect Austrian investors to outsource their production here in a bid to cut costs during the crisis? Which sectors will be most attractive?
Again this is not my turf, but personally I believe, that projects for new infrastructure, for sustainability and renewable energy will be very attractive. Investments, which are just trans- ponded due to lower cost of salaries, can go as quick as they have been coming.
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