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Bulgaria ready to sweeten its bid to win Volkswagen plant: lobby group


SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria is ready to offer more incentives to Volkswagen to build a new plant in the country after the carmaker postponed a decision on building it in Turkey amid criticism of Ankara's offensive in Syria.

Sofia is ready to boost its offer and double the subsidies available to Volkswagen to 260 million euros from an initial 135 million, Rosen Plevneliev, a board member of the non-governmental Bulgarian Automotive Cluster, told Bulgaria's BNR public radio on Wednesday.

The Balkan country has been in Volkswagen's shortlist for the new plant and the announcement regarding Turkey, has raised its hopes.

"Yesterday's statement was a good start. But there is a long way to go before we can see what the final decision will be," Plevneliev, who is also a former Bulgarian President told BNR.

"Bulgaria has prepared a wonderful proposal, which offers the utmost possible under European Union laws," Plevneliev said.

The cluster, which unites over 54 companies in the automotive sector and car part industry, has been involved in lobbing for the Bulgarian bid.

"We can expand our cooperation with Volkswagen in different areas. Bulgaria is to build infrastructure for electric cars. We also have ideas how to back up the carmaker with additional infrastructure and educational measures, Plevneliev said.

The economy ministry declined to comment both on whether Sofia is improving its offer or on an eventual subsidy increase.

A ministry spokesman said that until there is a final decision, Bulgaria and Turkey are both contenders for the new plant.

With a Volkswagen decision on hold, neighboring Romania said it has initiated new talks to lobby for the investment.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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