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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 8, 2009
Business coping with the crisis
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Building Bridges
April 8, 2009   
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Jacek Piechota, head of the Polish-Ukrainian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, talks to Ewa Hancock.

How many members does the chamber have, and what criteria do they have to meet? Can only Ukrainian and Polish companies apply for membership?
At present the Polish-Ukrainian Chamber of Industry and Commerce brings together 202 entrepreneurs, 152 from Poland and 50 from Ukraine. To join, all you have to do is fill out a membership declaration and pay a registration fee of zl.500 and then a monthly fee of zl.100. Membership is open to companies from any country, as long as they are interested in contributing to the development of Polish-Ukrainian economic relations. Companies from anywhere in the world qualify for membership regardless of the origin of their capital.

What services do you offer your members?
In brief, we do our best to provide our members with any assistance they need. The chamber fulfills its mission through activities that include organizing business missions, training in fields such as Ukrainian taxes, customs duties, banking, investment law, free economic zones, and trade contacts with Eastern Europe. Training also involves issues such as aid programs using national budget and EU funds to promote exports and companies' development. We hold seminars and conferences, handle trade fairs and exhibitions, prepare informational publications, match up entrepreneurs and help them find reliable trade partners, work regularly with the Ukrainian embassy in Poland and the Polish embassy in Ukraine and with government and local administration officials. We help businesses obtain all kinds of certificates and approvals. We assist Polish companies wanting to do business in Ukraine and provide the same services to Ukrainian companies in Poland.

Which projects would you count among the chamber's greatest successes?
The least spectacular successes give us the greatest pleasure-helping an entrepreneur get out of a fix, removing an obstacle, finding a reliable business partner across the border. These are the kind of successes that the partners themselves usually don't want to talk about. As for large projects, I would mention contributing to the organization of the National Exhibition in Dnepropetrovsk in 2002, in which over 170 Polish businesses wanting to enter the Ukrainian market took part. We also contributed to the 9th Polish-Ukrainian Economic Summit in Donetsk in October 2008, which attracted Polish president Lech Kaczyński and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko. Moreover, we have organized economic missions that produced lasting business partnerships. During the Ukrainian health minister's February visit to Warsaw, for example, companies from the Polish medical sector established relations with their counterparts in Ukraine. In the near future we will organize the Baltic Business Forum 2009: Ukraine-New Opportunities, a project aimed at familiarizing Polish and other EU entrepreneurs with Ukraine. Many politicians, financiers and business leaders will attend the conference, including well-known figures such as Waldemar Pawlak, Danuta Hübner, Marek Belka, and Witold Orłowski. The conference will be held April 22-24, and has attracted a lot of interest. We want this event to be held on a regular basis to show that the best way for Western European entrepreneurs to enter Ukraine is via Poland and with the help of Polish partners.
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