Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | March 11, 2002, Monday // 00:00

Mr. Massimo Di Giandomenico has been Director of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade in Bulgaria since November 24, 2000, with 20 years of experience in the system of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (Istituto nazionale per il Comercio Estero). Before coming to Bulgaria Mr. Massimo Di Giandomenico worked in Sao Paulo and Rome, where he was in charge of the Institute's activities in training managers for the countries, going through a transitional period. Mr. Massimo Di Giandomenico is a law graduate with majors in legal and economic aspects of international organizations.

Mr. Massimo Di Giandomenico met Milena Hristova, Editor of and The News.


Q: How did Italy manage to become one of Bulgaria's major trade partners and foreign investors?

A: I would like to underline that Devnya Cement is an investment, which at first sight is being made by CIMENT FRANCAIS, which is in fact an Italian company of ITALCEMENTI, so in that case we may talk about a 100% Italian investment of some USD 150 M. If we add to this the Miroglio Group, whose investment in Bulgaria so far totals USD 110 M, following the acquiring of the World Trade Center Interpred, Italy turns into Bulgaria's top foreign investor and trade partner.

Q: Italy declared its support for more flexible EU foreign policy, aiming at better distribution of financial resources in priority regions like the Balkans. How could this policy benefit Bulgaria?

A: The justification for such a demand on Italy's part is contained in the answer to the first question. Italy is top investor in Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria, so it is natural for Italy to put forward such suggestions and requirements, concerning the assistance of interests in the region.

Q: During the Italian-Bulgarian business forum Alessandro Grafini, Italy's Ambassador to Bulgaria, said that the Italian investment in Gorna Arda project would be around USD 300 M. What development do you expect?

A: In my opinion the Italian side shows great interest in this investment. According to a recent report of the World Bank Bulgaria may start to play a very important role in the energy sector in Europe. Upon his arrival in Bulgaria, Adolfo Urso, Italy's Minister of Foreign Trade and Deputy Minister of Production Activities, also said that Italy is Bulgaria's top investor. This will be obvious after the finalization of the memorandum of understanding on Italian company Enel Power's participation in hydropower Gorna Arda project.

Q: Plants' debts are one of the reasons why Italian companies refrain from acquiring Bulgarian companies, just as in the case of Italy's Marangoni and its plans of acquiring Vidachim. What other obstacles does Italian business face in Bulgaria?

A: This is a very delicate question. In the first place I would like to point out that there are two conditions, which must be met in any joint venture company -a complete transparency, as far as the company's past is concerned, coupled with the presence of the private interests of the two sides. Obviously in this particular case these conditions were not met. This however did not harm Italy's presence in Bulgaria. Judging by the feedback I receive there are many Italian companies, which are interested in the possibilities of setting up joint ventures with Bulgarian companies. This is a tendency, which is bound to gain ground. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that currently the number of Italian companies with solid positions in Bulgaria exceeds six hundred, including companies with 100% Italian participation, as well as joint ventures with Bulgarian partners.

Talking about the obstacles Italian business faces in Bulgaria, I would point out in the first place the sluggish bureaucratic system and the legislation, which while undergoing the process of harmonization with the European Union legislation, is still in a constant state of flux. Another obstacle is the great number of licenses and permits, primarily on a regional scale.

Q: Do you find any similarities between the Bulgarian and Italian businessmen?

A: Yes, they all want to work. Bulgaria is making considerable progress in adapting to the technology of the free market. Under such conditions all entrepreneurs, Bulgarian or foreign, will look more and more similar.

Q: Could you describe Bulgaria in several words?

A: Bulgaria is a country, in which one feels extremely stimulated to work hard, primarily because of the big changes the country is currently undergoing.

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