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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 12, 2007
The Chinese Connection
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Poland Prepares for Expo 2010
December 12, 2007   
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Anna Kamińska, vice-president of the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ) and commissioner-general of the Polish Section of the Expo 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai, talks to Andrzej Ratajczyk.

In mid-November, Poland formally decided to join the Expo 2010 world exhibition in Shanghai. What hopes is Poland pinning on the event?
The Expo exhibitions are the largest and most important and prestigious promotional events in the world. Unlike other, commercial fairs and exhibitions, the official participants are countries and international organizations. An enormous advantage of the exhibition is its huge number of visitors who come to the national pavilions. You do not see that anywhere else. We thus believe that our participation in Expo will help promote Poland on the international arena. We want to show Poland as a modern and dynamically developing country that is attractive to investors, tourists and college students alike.

The Expo 2010 organizers are hoping to break all previous records. Their plans involve a record number of 70 million visitors and a record number of exhibitors from 200 countries. This wealth of promotional opportunities is much bigger than at any other world exhibition held so far.

The Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency has considerable experience in events of this kind. The agency prepared Poland's previous Expo presentations in Hanover, Germany, and Aichi, Japan. How did Poland do at those events?
At Expo 2000 in Hanover, Poland for the first time ever held its presentations inside a pavilion that we designed and built on our own. It was a spectacular promotional success. The whole of Poland's Expo 2000 agenda as well as the exhibit, the Polish pavilion, regional presentations, cultural events, and Poland's National Day at Expo, got the highest acclaim from experts and enjoyed a lot of interest among Expo visitors. In all, more than 3.2 million people visited the Polish exhibit at Expo 2000.

Poland's participation in the most recent world exhibition, Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan, was immensely successful as well, as testified by long lines of people outside the Polish pavilion-which attracted a total of 1.5 million people throughout the event-and enthusiastic reviews from visitors. The Polish exhibition, "See the Beauty," and the Polish program at Expo 2005 were also very well received by Japanese leaders and the media.

Every Expo is a perfect opportunity to improve Poland's image, promote the country, and create favorable conditions for new economic and tourist contacts. There was clearly a reason why in 2006, the year after the exhibition in Aichi, the number of Japanese tourists in Poland rose rapidly, as did the value of Japanese investment here. The early start of preparations for Expo 2010 and the great deal of attention that Poland is paying to its presence in Shanghai are a good promise of another turnout record at the Polish exhibition.

How is work going on Poland's participation in Expo 2010?
Although the event is still a few years away, we by no means think there is plenty of time left for the preparations, especially because we really want to come up with a range of versatile and competitive proposals for the Chinese market. One notable effect of our work so far is an outline of an agenda for Poland's participation in Expo 2010, approved by the economy ministry.

In principle, this is the starting point for all projects related to Poland's participation in Expo 2010. It would be good if this idea now became the basis for a broader project by those governmental and nongovernmental organizations which are responsible for the promotion of Poland in China. The size of the Chinese market and the challenges it presents necessitate more diverse projects in China and their efficient coordination.

This outline agenda will help create a coherent image of Poland built on familiarity with the country brand and the positive associations it evokes. In the long run, this should produce tangible results such as better general knowledge of Poland in China, an increased interest in Poland among the Chinese, higher exports of Polish goods to China, an influx of Chinese investment, and more Chinese tourists coming to Poland.

The Polish exhibition in China is supposed to meet three basic criteria: it should be interesting and attractive to visitors; it should contribute to the promotion of Poland; and it should fit in with the leading theme of Expo 2010, which is "Better City, Better Life."

Would you agree that the Shanghai exhibition will offer an opportunity to improve Poland's trade balance with China?
Expo 2010 will be a good opportunity to develop a program to promote exports and work out mechanisms to support Polish business in China. Our experts can see plenty of opportunities to develop cooperation in sectors such as the machine industry, mining and environmental protection. The analyses also concern opportunities to introduce Polish food products and cosmetics to the Chinese market.

China is a market with a huge potential, but in the past few years Poland has failed to take advantage of opportunities to develop economic cooperation with China. Suffice to say that in 2006 Polish exports to China totaled $760 million, while its imports were worth $7.6 billion. The deficit in trade with China accounted for 44 percent of Poland's entire trade deficit in 2006.

The leading theme of Expo 2010 is "Better City, Better Life." How does Poland plan to contribute to the debate on the quality of life in cities?
Like the themes of the previous Expos, the 2010 one calls for stable and sustainable relations between the rise of civilization and respect for nature. The main idea of Expo 2010 is harmony between humanity and nature, the past and the future. This is the starting point for a sustainable development of cities. The organizers of the Expo in Shanghai want to draw the public's attention to the fact that unless effective action is taken, the uncontrolled rise of cities will aggravate the current problems and eventually have a negative impact on the quality of life in cities.

Expo 2010 will also be an excellent opportunity for individual countries to share their experience in improving the quality of life in cities. Poland has enormous achievements in redeveloping cities, and that is worth sharing. We also want to show the special role that various Poles including internationally-renowned Polish-born architects have played in designing and redesigning contemporary cities-hence the leading theme of the Polish exhibit: "People Create the City."
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