On 30 May 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2013. The Center for the Study of Democracy is official partner for Bulgaria of the World Competitiveness Center at IMD (International Institute for Management Development). The previous seven issues of the Yearbook had a direct impact on the Bulgarian competitiveness policy-making, and were quoted in strategic policy documents of the Bulgarian government. International investors monitor very closely the IMD competitiveness ranking, which makes its 2013 results even more relevant. In 2013 Bulgaria is ranked at 57th position – 3 places below its 2012 rank.
Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented a general overview of the report’s results. He pointed out that Bulgaria’s low ranking is a result of long-term problems in the domestic economy: weak public administration, low-skilled labor force and poor business management. According to Mr. Stefanov, the main challenge that the newly elected government faces is the creation of a long-term integrated strategy for economic growth, which will guarantee predictability and stability to the business sector.
According to Mr. Martin Tsanov, Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria’s competitiveness grew continuously until 2009, when it took a turn for the worse falling to the last places in the overall ranking. Bulgaria ranks first in terms of ease of starting a new business and has high levels of price competitiveness. The production levels however remain low. The main problems hindering the economic growth are inefficient public administration, widespread corruption and a growing income gap.
Mr. Todor Yalamov, Senior Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy commented on the positive trend among Bulgarian companies to invest in the development of new products and successfully participate on foreign markets. He underlined that given the limited size of the Bulgarian market, economic growth can resume only if local firms enter foreign markets. Mr. Yalamov expects investments in Bulgarian international companies to grow over the next 15 years.
Dr. Todor Galev, Senior Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy gave an overview of the energy sector, emphasizing on the fact that electricity prices for industrial consumers in Bulgaria are among the lowest in the EU and that the economy’s energy intensity has registered an improvement. Mr. Stefanov added that in order to improve its competitiveness, Bulgaria needs to introduce a comprehensive long-term strategy for sustainable development of the energy sector and invest in new electricity generation technologies, particularly from renewable energy sources.
Mr. Angel Milev, Program Director of Enterprise Europe Network - Bulgaria, noted that from a business perspective the main problem hindering economic growth is the lack of a coordinated strategy which takes into consideration all economic sectors, as well as a public institution in charge of its implementation. He confirmed Mr. Yalamov’s conclusion that businesses can only be successful if they invest in innovations and fill market niches.
Prof. Teodora Georgieva, Senior Expert at Applied Research and Communications Fund highlighted the importance of the science-business link for economic growth. Currently in Bulgaria such cooperation exists mainly as a result of personal connections between business leaders and science experts. According to Prof. Georgieva, this collaboration should be institutionalized, in order to be more efficient and produce tangible results.
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)