Report – After China success, Bulgaria is seeking more automotive investments image

Building on its success in attracting a new vehicle plant for China’s Great Wall Motors, the East European country is now stepping up efforts to win more auto industry investment.

The nation has lagged neighbors such as Hungary, Romania and Serbia, where automakers including Daimler, Renault, Ford and Fiat have invested in expanding vehicle production.

The country’s slow law enforcement and complex administrative procedures can represent a risk for investors, but Bulgaria has been successful in winning new plants from suppliers, helped by low corporate and personal taxation, a skilled workforce and a stable economic climate.

“Proximity to western European markets and being part of the EU’s harmonized regulatory framework are also key considerations,” said Ernst & Young consultant Diana Nikolaeva.

In 2012, Great Wall opened its first European factory in Lovech, in northern Bulgaria, in a joint-venture with local Litex Motor Corporation. The 50,000-unit capacity plant builds the Steed pickup from kits supplied from China. Currently, Great Wall sells its models in two markets in Western Europe: Italy and the UK.