Bulgaria Woos China's CSR to Invest in Train FactoriesBusiness | March 14, 2011, Monday // 19:29| views
China's CSR may start producing railway cars and engines in Bulgaria. Photo by infoseekchina.files.wordpress.com
Representatives of the world's largest manufacturer of electric locomotives, China's CSR, may invest in Bulgarian engine and car production facilities, according to Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov.
On Monday, Tsvetkov showed CSR executives around a railway engine plant in Sofia – the locomotive depot of the Bulgarian State Railways BDZ in the Poduyane Quarter.
The CSR delegation said their visit is taking place at Tsvetkov's invitation that he made during his visit to China in December 2010.
CSR, or China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd, has declared interest in investing in locomotive production and maintenance facilities in Bulgaria.
In addition to the locomotive depot in Sofia, they are going to visit the car repair plant in the town of Septemvri, and the state-owned company "Transport Construction and Recovery", which rebuilds and constructs Bulgaria's railway infrastructure.
According to Transport Minister Tsvetkov, CSR may be drawn to invest in Bulgaria thanks to the fact that it can provide the Chinese industrial giant with both a direct access to the vast EU market, and with the lowest tax rates in the EU.
He was quick to note that it is too early to speak of concrete investments on part of CSR since the Chinese company was still researching the capacities of the Bulgarian railway manufacturers.
"It is essential for us to have a major foreign investor in the railway transport because this will stimulate the reform in the sector," Tsvetkov commented, just three days after Bulgaria avoided a massive strike of railway workers over a reform plan for the state railways coordinated with the World Bank that threatened to lay off thousands of workers.
Bulgaria is also expected to be firmly on the map of China's railway investments as the latter is trying to develop a high-speed rail connection to Europe.
During Bulgarian Transport Minister Tsvetkov's visit to China in December 2010, he and China's Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun signed a memorandum for bilateral cooperation in railway transport.
The document was signed in the presence of Zhang Dejiang, Vice-Premier of the People's Republic of China, right before the opening of the 7th World Congress on High Speed Rail.
The memorandum defines the spheres of cooperation, which include the transit through Bulgaria on Eurasian transport corridors, modernization of existing railway infrastructure, research in the field of railway technology, including development of rapid and high-speed rail, exchange of experts.
During their meeting, Tsvetkov and Liu discussed the specific actions for the realization of the goals, envisioned in the document.
The two agreed that an expert group should be sent from China to Bulgaria, in order to explore the possibilities for joint manufacturing of wagons and locomotives in Bulgaria in compliance with the standards and technical requirements of the EU.
Tsvetkov also met with China's Minister of Transport, Li Shenglin, with whom he negotiated the creation of a contact group of experts, which would be responsible for outlining the specific topics and areas of the bilateral cooperation in the maritime, river and air transport.
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