Bulgaria - Country Commercial Guide
Selling to the Public Sector
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Government procurement in Europe is governed by both international obligations under the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and EU-wide legislation under the EU Public Procurement Directives. U.S.-based companies can bid on public tenders covered by the GPA, while European subsidiaries of U.S. companies may bid on all public procurement contracts covered by the EU Directives in the European Union.

Many governments finance public works projects through borrowing from the Multilateral Development Banks.

U.S. companies bidding on foreign government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government Commercial Advocacy. Within the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters in competition with foreign firms in foreign government projects or procurement opportunities. The Advocacy Center works closely with its network of U.S. Commercial Service offices worldwide and inter-agency partners to ensure that exporters of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance of winning government contracts. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agency officials expressing support for the U.S. exporters directly to the foreign government. Consult the Advocacy Center’s program web page on for additional information: https://www.trade.gov/advocacy

Under Bulgaria’s procurement law, a government procurement agency, Public Procurement Agency, (https://www2.aop.bg/en/home/), which reports to the Minister of Finance, was established to ensure and monitor the implementation of the state’s public procurement policy.

Bulgarian law uses the following public procurement procedures:

  • open public tender 
  • restricted tender
  • competitive dialogue
  • competitive procedure with negotiation and open publication
  • negotiated procedure without prior publication, and
  • design contest

Procurement opportunities exist in numerous infrastructure sectors such as airports, energy, roads, and railroads.  All international and domestic companies are eligible to participate in public procurement tenders. The Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) https://www.cpc.bg/en/homepage  is the authority that enforces both the Law on Public Procurement and the Law on Protection of Competition.  A law on ‘public – private partnerships,’ adopted in 2012, states that a public partner in a public – private partnerships can be:

  • a minister or the head of department;
  • the mayor of a municipality; or
  • a state and/or municipal public organization.

AmCham in Bulgaria has an active Public Procurement Working Group which can also be consulted for additional information (https://amcham.bg/).

U.S.-Based Financing

The U.S. Export-Import (EXIM) Bank is a source of export financing and insurance for U.S. transactions in Bulgaria.  If approved, Exim Bank will guarantee a commercial bank loan up to 85 percent of the value of the contract. Exim Bank will also accept guarantees from larger municipalities. 

Previously known as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today.  More information: https://www.dfc.gov/

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (TDA) promotes U.S. exports by funding feasibility studies, technical assistance, training programs, and orientation visits. More information: https://ustda.gov/

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an innovative and independent U.S. foreign assistance agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. More information: https://www.mcc.gov/about

Financing from International Institutions

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (https://www.ebrd.com/), whose largest shareholder is the U.S. Government, has a number of programs available for U.S. companies and has an office in Bulgaria (https://www.ebrd.com/bulgaria-data.html). The Bank provides loans and takes equity stakes in infrastructure and private-sector development projects and mandates open competitive tenders. For more information: https://www.ebrd.com/work-with-us/project-finance/funding-process.html

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of World Bank Group, can provide financing, investment and guarantees. Investment opportunities include loans, equity investments, trade and commodity finance, derivatives and structured finance and blended finance. It can also mobilize additional funding through parallel loans, loan participations, partial credit guarantees, securitizations, loan sales, risk sharing facilities and fund investments (https://www.ifc.org/en/home). The World Bank also can provide guarantees (IBRD/IDA) for private sector projects. They could be combined with project bonds to finance transactions for construction, operation, and others, securing a lift-up in the rating of these bonds. See: https://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/guarantees-program

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) is part of the World Bank Group.  Its purpose is to encourage foreign investment in developing countries by providing credit enhancement and investment guarantees, including political risk insurance, against the risk of currency transfer, expropriation, war, civil disturbance and breach of contract by the host government.  For more information, please see: https://www.miga.org/ Image removed.

EU-Based Financing

As an EU member, Bulgaria has access to project financing from EU structural and cohesion funds for grants, loans, loan guarantees and co-financing for feasibility studies and infrastructure projects in several key sectors. During the program period 2021 — 2027, the cohesion fund provides for several key sectors, including environment, sustainable development, energy, and trans-European networks related to transport infrastructure (TEN-T). For more information: https://www.eufunds.bg/en

Financing from the European Structural and Investment Funds covers 12 operational programs: Good Governance, Environment, Innovation and Competitiveness, Maritime and Fisheries, Science and Education for Smart Growth, Rural Development, Human Resources Development, Fund of Funds, Regions in Growth, Community-led Local Development, Transport and Transport Infrastructure, and Programmers for Territorial Cooperation. and is available in five separate funds:

  • European Regional Development Fund - Regional and Urban Development
  • European Social Fund - social inclusion and good governance
  • Cohesion Fund - economic convergence of less developed regions
  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
  • European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

Bulgarian officials are the key decision-makers for structural funds.  To become familiar with the available financial support programs in Bulgaria, would-be contractors should meet with local officials to discuss local needs.

Tenders issued by Bulgaria’s public contracting authorities for projects supported by EU grants are subject to EU public procurement legislation if they meet the EU minimum contract value requirement for the eligible sector. There are no overt rules prohibiting the participation of U.S. companies as developers or concessionaires of projects partially supported by the structural funds, or as bidders on subsequent public tenders related to such projects, but it is advisable to team up with a local partner.

All projects supported by the structural funds are co-financed by national authorities and most may also qualify for a loan from the European Investment Bank. The private sector is also involved in project financing.

See approved programs at:  https://www.eib.org/en/projects/pipelines/index.htm

Trans-European transport networks, involving EU priority infrastructure projects that support the Connecting Europe Facility.

Projects in energy or transport that benefit the environment in terms of energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, developing rail transport, supporting intermodal ties, and strengthening public transport.

See: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/home_en

The Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) offers project financing for investment projects in Bulgaria. Applicants can be both newly created and existing companies with a credit and financial history. Depending on the size and requirements of the project, BDB can organize syndication or external co-financing of a loan with other financial institutions, including the European Investment Bank under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

U.S. exporters (suppliers and subcontractors) are eligible to bid on EU-financed projects. The U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Mission to the European Union https://www.trade.gov/european-union offers a tool on its website to help U.S.-based companies identify European public procurement opportunities.

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the financing arm of the EU, is a non-profit banking institution offering cost-competitive, long-term lending in Europe for private and public EU-based borrowers in all sectors of the economy. EIB projects must contribute to the EU’s socioeconomic objective to include:

  • fostering development of less favored regions
  • improving European transport and telecommunication infrastructure
  • protecting the environment
  • supporting the activities of SMEs
  • assisting urban renewal and
  • generally promoting growth, competitiveness and employment in Europe.

Seven EU Operational Programs are available to Bulgaria from the European Investment Bank to include.

The EIB presents attractive opportunities to U.S. businesses with low interest rates. However, U.S. firms must be certain that projects for which they are applying for funding contribute to the European objectives cited above. Loans from the European Investment Bank can be found here: (https://www.eib.org/en/)

Financing Resources

Export-Import Bank of the United States

U.S. Development Finance Corporation

U.S. Trade and Development Agency

USDA Commodity Credit Corporation

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

World Bank

The European Investment Bank

EIB-financed projects