The history and the achievements of the Rousse-based Bulgarian-Romanian business organisation
This text was provided to “The Bridge of Friendship” blog by the Bulgarian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is going to become part of a digital book on the Bulgarian-Romanian relations today.
On 10 September 2003 leading Bulgarian and Romanian companies established the Bulgarian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Rousse.
The creation of this organisation was initiated by the Rousse-based company “Prista Oil”. The idea was that the Chamber supports and develops the commercial relations between the firms in the two countries, to protect the economic interests of its members before public institutions, to encourage and support the possibilities for cross-border cooperation.
31 major Bulgarian and Romanian firms united behind this idea and became co-founders. The Bulgarian companies were “Alen Mak”, “Albena Invest Holding”, “Orgachim”, “Aroma”, “Bella Bulgaria”, “Kaolin”, “Naftex”, “Glavbolgarstroy”, “Lukoil Bulgaria”, “Olineza”, “Monbat” and others. Among the Romanian companies there were firms such as Babe Communication, Policolor, Transporturi Bucuresti Noi, Omnimpex, Rompetrol, Prista Oil Romania, Lukoil Downstream.
Challenged by what was standing before us, we started working. We identified the legislative difficulties of the two countries, the difficult border control regime, the lack of information and contacts about the neighbouring country as obstacles. Over time we started overcoming these difficulties one by one. Our entrance in the EU allowed us to communicate easier, to meet, to find more joint issues of action.
Over the years the Chamber was joined by Bulgarian and Romanian companies from different economic sectors – industry, transport, tourism, commerce, services, international business organisations with interests in the two countries. The Chamber is a member of Pro Danube International – a union of private companies and public authorities, which works for the improvement of transport on the Danube and its navigable tributaries. It is a collective member of the Bulgaran Chamber of Commerce and Industry – a part of the biggest business network in the world – the one of the chambers of commerce. The BRCCI also cooperates actively with around 15 bilateral chambers of commerce in Bulgaria, which allows for exchange of experience and good practices and expands the network of contacts with firms, organisations and institutions.
The BRCCI has been the official representative of the Bucharest-based Romexpo center for Bulgaria. Thanks to our support a lot of Bulgarian companies have reached out to foreign markets for the first time (and their first foreign market was the Romanian one), visited different specialised expo centers, met partners, found clients. The Romanian companies also started to gradually come to Bulgaria, as they were supported and encouraged by the Chamber’s team.
Over time we have answered thousands of questions. Hundreds of firms have used our services and expert knowledge. We have supported tens of companies to participate in expos in Romania (TIBCO, Construct Expo, Indagra, agricultural producers’ expos, etc.). We prove in the b2b meetings that one of our strongest skills is to create contacts, to connect the companies, which realise their potential at the neighbouring market over time.
In these 17 years we developed a beautiful partnership with the embassy of Romania in Sofia and Bulgaria’s one in Bucharest. The economic advisers there and the two embassies have always been easy to access and opened for communication. In the conditions, in which we work in the last three months these institutions are the trusted source of information for us.
Today there are 11 experts, who work at the Chamber, which makes our organisation one of the largest bilateral chambers in Bulgaria and the only one, which is not based in Sofia. On a daily basis our team works with more than 100 firm members and more than 200 other companies partners. We work on projects for better transport connection between the two countries, for cross-border mobility of the labour force, for entrepreneurship and innovations.
Our key advantage today is the information, which we receive from the two countries, two large networks of contacts and our accumulated experience. If we have to do a mathematical equation for our formula, it would look like that: information + contacts + experience = success.
It is a matter of fact that upon the Chamber’s establishment the trade volume between Bulgaria and Romania was 300 million dollars, while now it is 5 billion euro. Our northern neighbour has become the second largest commercial partner of Bulgaria. This gives us confidence, because we have our humble contribution to this success.
We look forward to the future, relying on the technologies, but we don’t forget that personal contact is the first step towards the good partnership. We make webinars on current economic issues. We organise discussions with successful managers, who share their experience with the executives of the companies, that try to have market presence in the neighbouring country. We continue to be the bridge, through which the Bulgarian firms reach Romania and the Romanian companies step on Bulgarian lands.
Photo: The Bridge “New Europe” at Vidin – Calafat (source: Pixabay, CC0)
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