On the second day of his visit to Washington, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev went to the headquarters of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He met with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson to whom he extended an invitation on behalf of the government to visit Bulgaria. Nelson confirmed that he will visit Bulgaria in October 2024, the press office of the Finance Ministry said on Thursday.
At their meeting Vassilev and Nelson discussed the opportunities for deepening scientific cooperation between Bulgaria and NASA. “Bulgaria has companies, technologies and space traditions that can be extremely useful,” the finance minister said. He recalled that in November 2023 Bulgaria joined the Artemis agreement – a NASA programme, which involves 34 governments, working towards returning humans to the Moon and expanding space exploration to Mars and other space objects.
Nelson said he is looking forward to visiting Sofia in the autumn.
Bill Nelson has led NASA since May 2021. In his long career as a congressman and senator, he has authored a series of laws related to science and space. He is regarded as one of the leaders of the US national space programme, an advocate for combating climate change and a supporter of high-tech training programmes. In 1986, he trained and flew with the crew of the space shuttle Columbia.
Earlier in the day, Vassilev and Economy Minister Bogdan Bogdanov discussed opportunities for American investment and job creation in Bulgaria with representatives of leading American companies TESLA, Honeywell, Northrop-Grumman, Lockheed Martin, FedEx, C4V. The two ministers also participated in the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the American Chamber of Commerce. American businesses expressed interest in investing in high technology, energy, innovation, electric vehicles and medical products, and in Bulgaria’s military industry.
“American businesses are welcome in Bulgaria if they are looking for skilled personnel, but if you need cheap labour, you better stay at home,” Vassilev told representatives of major companies. He highlighted Bulgaria’s investment advantages, pointing out that for the first time the current government has started to support Bulgarian and foreign investors for capital projects with the maximum state aid allowed by the EU.
Bogdanov stressed that trade between Bulgaria and the US has been growing since 2017, despite the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “In 2022, bilateral trade reached an all-time high of USD 2.035 billion. Bulgaria wishes to continue and develop this positive trend. Our country is interested in attracting American capital investments in high-tech industries and high value-added services,” Bogdanov said.