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Fast economic growth requires investing abroad – university professor

SOFIA, Bulgaria, December 3 ------ If Bulgaria wants its economy to grow fast, it should invest abroad, including in developed countries, Todor Yalamov, Deputy Dean of the Economics Faculty at Sofia University and professor at Soka University in Tokyo.

Yalamov took part in a discussion on "The Future of Joint High-technology Innovation between Bulgaria and Japan", organized by Nihon Tomono Kai - Club of Friends of Japan in Bulgaria, as part of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture in Bulgaria. Yalamov said Bulgaria used to share in joint ventures in Japan, the United States, Western Europe and the Soviet Union. Such enterprises were established for various reasons. One of the factors which propelled the Bulgarian electronics industry was that its output was not intended only for the domestic market but for the whole Soviet bloc, and Bulgaria was a gateway for Japanese businesses to expand into Eastern Europe.

The professor noted that Bulgaria, as an EU member, is required to provide official development aid to non-EU countries. Development aid is beneficial for the donor country, too, because part of it goes back to the donor in the form of trade agreements and consultation services, he said. Bulgaria's attention should be focused on Africa as the continent with the fastest growing economy, which is the target of strong competition among large countries providing development aid, he said. To Bulgaria, the developing market of Africa nowadays can be what the Soviet bloc market was in the 1980s, Yalamov said. As an example, he cited Bulgaria's Software Group, which is very well positioned in Africa and Oceania. In other words, he said, there is a link between Bulgaria's foreign policy and its partnership with Japan, not just in the sense of two-way investment and trade but also through investment and trade with third countries with developing markets.

Moreover, investments here in Bulgaria have almost reached their limit, Yalamov said. Other areas in which Bulgaria can deepen its relations with Japan are "university diplomacy" and "citizen diplomacy", he said. Datex is another interesting example, the professor said. The company is the product of Bulgarian-Japanese relations of the 1980s. Its leaders hold doctoral degrees from Japanese universities, which enables them to establish contacts with other companies to do research and development for them in Bulgaria. In the field of citizen diplomacy, Bulgaria needs to maintain a close relationship with the Bulgarian community in Japan. There are over 100 Bulgarians teaching at Japanese universities, and they can open many doors, Yalamov said. He holds that new investments in Bulgaria should rest on the foundation created by other foreign investors who have tested the viability of their innovative products on the Bulgarian market. Yalamov recommended to the Bulgarian high-technology companies seeking a foothold on the Japanese market to get to know the local culture in great detail.



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