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The Warsaw Voice » Other » October 29, 2008
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Spanish Success
October 29, 2008   
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The president of the Polish-Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Stefan Bekir Assanowicz, speaks with Ewa Hancock.

What is the function of the Polish-Spanish Chamber of Commerce?
The Polish-Spanish Chamber of Commerce, in existence now for eight years, is a non-profit, non-governmental institution that offers Polish and Spanish firms the opportunity to forge trading partnerships and work together on educational projects. Currently we have a membership of 130. We are one of the most vigorous bilateral chambers operating in Poland and count on a continuous increase in the number of companies working with us.

We offer our members:
  • The opportunity to take part in trade fairs and business trips to Spain with the possibility of a refund of up to 60 percent of costs;
  • The opportunity, based on individual needs, to organize defined, sector projects, also with the possibility of recouping up to 60 percent of costs;
  • The opportunity (free of charge for member-firms) to promote their companies to our Spanish partners, who are regional and branch Spanish Chambers that have unlimited and direct access to firms within a given sector. Membership of a Chamber is mandatory in Spain;
  • Professional advice, free of charge, on topics such as company registration in Spain, product certification, labor laws and how to export Polish products to Spain. The Chamber's office has detailed information on the last topic;
  • Free inclusion of each member-firm's details and an advertisement on the Chamber's website (www.phig.pl) in two languages;
  • Free subscription to the Chamber's bilingual newsletter and brochures sent to us by the Ministries;
  • Free inclusion of each member-firm's details in a bilingual folder handed out during conferences, domestic and foreign trade missions and official visits;
  • Free participation in the annual members' general meeting;
  • Invitations to take part in Spanish trade missions visiting Poland;
  • Inclusion on a list of firms that are eligible for an array of discounts for hotels, plane tickets, restaurants, translation agencies, travel agents, transport firms, training schools, printers, bookshops, language schools, consulting firms, car-hire firms, real-estate agencies and conference organizers.

We protect and represent the interests of our members. We facilitate the search for trade partners and make information about member-firms' activities widely available in both Poland and Spain. We provide market and financial-economic information to promote export and scientific-technical-industrial cooperation. We help to organize exhibitions, trade fairs, seminars and other promotional events. On a day-to-day basis we inform members about any events that have links with the economies of both countries.

We work together with the Spanish Embassy in Poland, the Polish Embassy in Madrid, the Polish Consulate General in Barcelona, the trade departments of diplomatic posts, the Polish Chamber of Commerce and regional and branch Chambers of Industry.

What does the Chamber consider its biggest successes to date?
We have had several successes. A very important achievement is being able to organize working meetings with top goverment representatives and the opportunity to discuss topics that are directly linked to member-firms' activities. For two years, we have helped to organize the Polish-Spanish Renewable Energy Forum. The economic program that we prepared for the international EXPO 2008 exhibition in Saragossa, "Water and Sustainable Development," was a huge success, as was our "Polish Regions-Spanish Regions" conference on July 7 in Saragossa. The fact that over 200 people from both the Polish and Spanish sides participated in the conference is testimony to how important it was. Conference attendees included Polish Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak; representatives of the Polish Ministries for Regional Development, Infrastructure and Environmental Protection; Polish district governors, and also representatives of the Spanish government and the President of the Aragonia government. An undoubted success for the Chamber was that it doubled its membership over two years.

Did this year's Polish-Spanish Renewable Energy Forum achieve expected goals?
Decidedly, yes. Almost 100 firms from both countries took part. The Forum looked at completely new renewable-energy technologies and in all certainty resulted in the forging of technical and trade contacts between Polish and Spanish firms.

In which sector of the Polish economy are the Spanish investing the most willingly?
After a period during which the Polish market was significantly impacted by the activities of Spanish developers, Spanish interest has now swung towards the renewable-energy sector. The European Union's mandate for 15 percent of Poland's energy by 2020 to come from renewable sources is without a doubt the driving force behind this trend.

What do your members regard as the biggest obstacles to doing business in Poland?
The complicated company registration procedure, a lack of financial incentives in the form of sector tax breaks, which should be promoted, and in many areas the lack of cohesion with European law. A separate problem on a national scale is that central and regional administrations are afraid of any wide application of Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) in nationwide and regional projects.
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