E N F O R C E M E N T   AND   C O M P L I A N C E

Click here for the Trade Agreement



What is this Agreement and what does it do?

Who benefits from this Agreement?

How can this Agreement help my company?

Can the U.S. Government help me if I have a problem?

How can I get more information?

What is this Agreement and what does it do?

This Agreement establishes a framework for the development and expansion of commercial relations between the United States and Bulgaria. Each Party accords most favored nation (MFN) and non-discriminatory treatment to each other's products. (MFN means treatment no less favorable than that accorded to products from any third country.) The Agreement also improves market access for goods and services, facilitates the establishment and operation of company offices, and strengthens intellectual property protection. Procedures are provided to enable each Party to protect its domestic industries against market disruption caused by a rapid rise in imports from the other country. Guidelines for the settlement of disputes arising from commercial transactions are also included.

This Agreement was signed by the U.S. Trade Representative and the Bulgarian Ambassador to the United States on April 22, 1991, and it entered into force on November 22, 1991, after it was approved by the U.S. Congress. It remains in force for successive periods of three years, unless one Party informs the other at least 30 days prior to the expiration of a three-year term of its intent to terminate the Agreement.

Who benefits from this Agreement?

Any U.S. company or individual interested in exporting to Bulgaria or doing business there can benefit from the equitable and predictable commercial environment that has been established by this Agreement.

How can this Agreement help my company?

MFN and Non-discrimination

The Agreement provides that each Party shall accord unconditional most favored nation (MFN) treatment to products from the other Party in all matters relating to:

customs duties and charges of any kind relating to imports and exports;

methods of payment for imports and exports;

rules and formalities relating to imports and exports, including those relating to customs clearance, transit, warehousing and transhipment;

taxes and other charges on imported products; and

laws, regulations and requirements affecting the sale, purchase, transport, distribution, storage and use of products in the domestic market.

The Agreement also provides that each Party shall accord non-discriminatory treatment to products from the other with respect to the application of quantitative restrictions, the granting of licenses and the allocation of currency needed to pay for imports.

NOTE: Bulgaria has signed free-trade agreements with a number of countries in Southeast Europe and with the European Union. Tariff rates for products originating in these countries are, in many cases, less than the rates charged to products originating in the United States and other countries granted MFN status by the Bulgarian Government.

Market Access

The United States and Bulgaria made various commitments that improve market access for each other's products and services. They agreed that any direct or indirect taxes or charges of any kind on imports shall not exceed those imposed on domestic products. Similarly, imports shall be treated no less favorably than domestic products with respect to laws and regulations that affect their offering for sale, purchase, transportation, distribution, storage or use. Technical regulations and standards shall not be adopted or applied with a view to creating obstacles to international trade.

In accordance with the statement in the Agreement's preamble that the evolution of market-based institutions will aid the development of mutually beneficial trade relations, the signatories agreed that contracts for goods and services shall be based on independent commercial judgement and customary commercial considerations such as price, quality, availability, delivery and terms of payment.

Business Facilitation

The Agreement spells out the treatment that each country shall accord to the other's companies. Key provisions, as they apply to American companies and individuals doing business in Bulgaria, are: The Bulgarian Government shall encourage and facilitate the holding of U.S. trade promotional events such as fairs, exhibitions, missions and seminars in Bulgaria, and shall allow duty-free import and re-export of all articles used in such events. The Bulgarian Government shall accord American companies treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to companies of any third country. Representatives of U.S. companies shall be allowed to import office equipment, and they shall have access to office space and living accommodation at non-discriminatory prices. They shall be able to engage agents, consultants and distributors and to hire employees who are U.S., Bulgarian or third country nationals. U.S. companies in Bulgaria shall be allowed to advertise their products in the media or by direct mail, and they shall be free to conduct market studies in Bulgaria. They shall also have non-discriminatory access to products and services of the Bulgarian government, including public utilities, at fair and equitable prices.

The Bulgarian Government agreed to make public, on a timely basis, all laws, regulations, judicial decisions and administrative rulings relating to commercial activity, including trade, investment, taxation, banking, insurance, other financial services, transport and labor.

The Agreement contains reciprocal provisions governing the status, functions and organization of each country's commercial offices. A side letter to the Agreement provides for the opening of governmental tourism promotion offices in both countries.

Financial Provisions

The Agreement states that all commercial transactions between nationals and companies of the United States and Bulgaria shall be made in U.S. dollars or any other freely convertible currency. No restrictions shall be placed on the export of freely convertible currencies. Companies and individuals shall be accorded non-discriminatory treatment with respect to opening and maintaining accounts in foreign and local currency, payments, remittances, transfers and rates of exchange.

Intellectual Property

The Agreement provides that each signatory shall provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property. Specific obligations are spelled out in detail in an exchange of letters that is an integral part of the Agreement. These relate to: copyright and related rights (including protection of all types of computer programs); trademarks; patents; layout designs of semiconductor chips; and trade secrets.

Market Disruption Safeguards

The Agreement states that both signatories agree to consult promptly at the request of the other whenever imports cause, threaten to cause, or contribute significantly to market disruption. The definition given in the Agreement for market disruption is: when imports of an article like, or directly competitive with, an article produced by a domestic industry are increasing so rapidly that they cause or threaten to cause material injury to the domestic industry.

If consultations fail to resolve the problem, the importing country may impose quantitative import limitations, tariffs or any other measure "to such an extent and for such time as it deems necessary" to prevent or remedy the market disruption. If warranted, the importing country can take emergency action to prevent or remedy market disruption without prior consultation, as long as consultations are requested immediately thereafter.

Dispute Settlement

The Agreement states that nationals and companies of either Party shall be accorded "national treatment" (treatment no less favorable than that accorded domestic individuals and companies) with respect to access to all courts and administrative bodies in the territory of the other Party. Arbitration is encouraged for the settlement of disputes arising from commercial transactions, and each Party is obliged to ensure that an effective means exists within its territory for the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards.

Joint Commercial Commission

The Agreement established a Joint Commercial Commission to review the operation of the Agreement, consider additional ways to develop and diversify trade and exchange information on commercial, industrial and technological cooperation. The Commission is co-chaired by senior officials of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations. Periodic meetings are held alternatively in Sofia and Washington.

Can the U.S. Government help me if I have a problem?

Yes. If your company is experiencing difficulties exporting to Bulgaria or doing business there because the Bulgarian Government is not complying with this Agreement, contact the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance's hotline at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Center can help you understand your rights and Bulgaria's obligations under this Agreement, and it can work with other U.S. Government officials to help you resolve your problem. The U.S. Government, if appropriate, can raise the particular facts of your situation with Bulgarian authorities and ask them to review the matter.

How can I get more information?

The complete text of the U.S.-Bulgaria Trade Relations Agreement is available from the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance's web site.

If you have questions about this Agreement or how to use it, you can e-mail the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance (TANC), which will forward your message to the Commerce Department's Designated Monitoring Officer for the Agreement. You can also contact the Designated Monitoring Officer at the following address:

Designated Monitoring Officer

U.S.-Bulgaria Trade Relations Agreement

Office of Eastern Europe, Russia and Independent States

U.S. Department of Commerce

14th Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230

Phone: (202) 482 - 4915

Fax: (202) 482 - 4505

The Designated Monitoring Officer can also provide you with useful trade leads and contacts.

For additional information about trade and business relations between the United States and Bulgaria, you may wish to consult the Country Commercial Guide for Bulgaria, which is prepared annually by the U.S. Embassy in Sofia. It is a valuable resource for any American company doing business in Bulgaria. You may also wish to e-mail the office of the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, which helps U.S. companies enter the Bulgarian market and expand their sales there

TANC offers these agreements electronically as a public service for general reference. Every effort has been made to ensure that the text presented is complete and accurate. However, copies needed for legal purposes should be obtained from official archives maintained by the appropriate agency.