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The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 3, 2008
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Business Aplenty
September 3, 2008   
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Luis Filipe Pereira, economic and trade counselor at the Portuguese embassy in Warsaw, talks to Ewa Hancock.

What is the main role of the Portuguese Commercial Office in Poland?
The functions performed by the Economic Department of the Portuguese embassy include promoting Portuguese trade and investment in Poland, attracting Polish investors to Portugal, supporting tourism, and dealing with other economic issues. The Portuguese Economic Department in Warsaw also coordinates tasks performed by the commercial and economic units of the Portuguese embassies in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

What are the most important areas of business between Poland and Portugal, and which sector is the most attractive for Portuguese investors in Poland?
The key Portuguese investment projects have been related to services, mostly in the banking sector, as well as the distribution and civil engineering sectors. Projects in areas such as molds, packages, waste management, and wind power have been equally important.

How substantial is Portuguese involvement in Poland?
According to the National Institute for Statistics in Portugal, Portuguese exports to Poland last year increased by 15.7 percent compared with the same period in 2006. In the first three months of this year, our exports to Poland grew by 26.3 percent. Imports from Poland dropped by 3.6 percent in 2007, but increased by 29.3 percent in the first three months of this year.

Last year Poland was ranked the ninth largest market for Portuguese investments, compared with sixth place in 2006 and 14th place in 2005. According to Banco Central de Portugal, the value of direct Portuguese investments in Poland in the last three years amounted to 775.17 million euros, including 269.54 million euros last year. Nevertheless, the actual value of Portuguese investments in Poland is definitely higher, as these figures do not take into account profits generated by Portuguese companies which have been reinvesting in Poland.

From the prospective of Portuguese companies, what makes doing business in Poland most difficult?
The major difficulties encountered by Portuguese companies in Poland are, most of all, of legal and administrative nature. Even though the Polish legal system is now undergoing a number of upgrading processes, it still has not been fully aligned with the Western European system. For example, expropriation difficulties typically experienced by construction companies, time-consuming licensing procedures, non-functioning private and public partnership arrangements, and decisions postponed by central and regional authorities, are among the key problems faced by foreign-based companies, including Portuguese ones.

Despite these difficulties, many Portuguese companies perceive the Polish market as an attractive destination. The considerable size of the market, the country's economic growth, the need for national modernization, the availability of EU subsidies, the presence of international investors and the unique geopolitical location that facilitates access to other markets such as Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, are among the factors that may considerably influence the activities taken by Portuguese companies planning to launch their international operations, considering Poland as their investment target.
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