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Bulgaria Woos Investors From China, 'Economy of 21st Century,' After Slump

Bulgaria seeks to attract Chinese investment in infrastructure, energy and export industries to bolster its economy after the worst recession in a decade

(Bloomberg) -- Bulgaria seeks to attract Chinese investment in infrastructure, energy and export industries to bolster its economy after the country's worst recession in a decade, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said.

The government has put together initiatives to win Chinese investment and plans to focus on these efforts over the next few months, Djankov said Nov. 23 in London at the Bloomberg Businessweek European Leadership Forum.

"China is the economy of the 21st century," he said. "We've seen growing interest from Chinese investors of coming to our region, specifically Bulgaria."

Heibei, China-based Great Wall Motor Co., the country's biggest sport-utility vehicle maker, is building an 80 million euro ($107 million) car production plant in the Balkan country, according to Bulgaria's government. China is among the countries that have expressed interest in investing in a new nuclear power plant, Djankov said in an interview Nov. 22 in London.

Bulgaria has kept its corporate and personal income tax rates at 10 percent, the lowest in the European Union, in an effort to attract investors, Djankov said. While the debt crises in neighboring Greece and Romania have cast a shadow over the region, Bulgaria also seeks to attract investors with its stable finances, Djankov said.

The country's economy grew 0.2 percent in the July-September period after six quarters of decline. The government projects 3.7 percent economic growth next year, driven by exports, Djankov said. The economy contracted 5.1 percent in 2009 after a three-year lending boom stalled and foreign investment dried up.

If Bulgaria decides to borrow on global markets or seek an international loan next year, it will be "for specific projects, be it infrastructure, be it health care," Djankov said.

Konstantinova is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

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