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The Warsaw Voice » Other » May 20, 2009
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Fostering Ties
May 20, 2009   
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Theodore Xypolias, Counselor for Economic and Commercial Affairs at the Greek embassy in Warsaw, talks to Ewa Hancock.

What opportunities attract Greek companies to Poland?
Poland is a priority country for Greece in terms of bilateral commercial and economic relations, investments and development of joint ventures in general. The size and extensive potential of this market make Poland an attractive and important partner for Greece and Greek companies.

According to data from the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ), the total amount of Greek investment in Poland in 2003-2008 was over 600 million euros.

The strong Polish economy-despite negative GDP forecasts for Poland due to the recent international financial crisis-and the economy's sound fundamentals provide a basis for the successful economic performance of possible new Greek investments on the Polish market.

The competitive character and the attractiveness of the Polish economy are two other crucial factors for Greek companies interested in investing in Poland. Service, education and IT centers are often set up by young entrepreneurs who are able to make effective use of European Union Funds and eager to apply innovative solutions.

Poland's convenient location, in the very center of Europe, makes this country a perfect investment destination for Greek enterprises targeting both Western and Eastern Europe. From Warsaw it takes only several hours either by car, train or airplane to reach a number of European capital cities such as Berlin, Moscow, Vienna, Bratislava, Kiev, Vilnius and others.

Greek investors who opt for Poland should have few problems in finding appropriate staff. Highly qualified workers and well educated specialists are widely available. This may have much to do with the fact that Poland has almost 500 academic centers. There is also a considerable number of young people educated by Polish universities of technology, highly sought-after experts in IT, modern technologies and a variety of other technology fields.

All the above-mentioned factors create perfect conditions for Greek investors in search of human capital for new projects and new investments.

Finally Poland is attractive for future Greek investors due to its domestic market; a consumer market of almost 40 million. Poles form over a third of the citizens of the new European Union member states.

Poland is the 30th largest market in the world, with its position strengthening year after year due to rapid economic growth and the increases in pay that follow.

Can you give an example of a Greek success story in Poland?
A good example of a successful Greek investment in Poland is that of Polbank-EFG. Although its name sounds very Polish, Polbank has distinct Greek roots. It's a subsidiary of Eurobank-EFG, the second-largest bank in Greece, in terms of assets and a leader in areas such as consumer loans, credit cards, loans for small and medium-sized businesses, mutual fund management and corporate banking. Polbank started its operations in Poland on Feb. 14, 2006, as Polbank-EFG.

After three years on the Polish market, Polbank-EFG has a network of more than 360 branches here. Polbank targets individuals and small businesses, all those who are looking for transparent, easy-to-understand products with attractive prices. It wants clients to have access to all the solutions they need in a single banking outlet. That's why it offers safe loans, customized credit and housing loans with a financial security package.

It has been focusing on organic growth. "Po prostu po ludzku" which roughly translates into English as "simply for people" is not just a slogan, but a vision under which Polbank's employees and managers want to help Poles understand and take better care of their finances. This means transparent and understandable rules, no hidden fees and products with attractive prices. The priority and obligation with regard to clients is to provide services of the highest standard.

What kind of barriers do Greek businessmen face in Poland?
Greek companies and Greek investors interested in expanding their activities in Poland can follow a careful step-by-step approach, mainly targeted at establishing stable trade links with selected Polish companies or retail outlets.

We think Greek products supported by different promotion activities such as participation in various trade exhibitions or business delegations or similar events can overcome market access difficulties, through the establishment of a reliable distribution network, based on regular trade relations with Polish partners.

Specially for some strategic sectors, for example the food sector, we have to underline that Poland's economy underwent a radical transformation to a market-oriented economy between 1989 and 2009 and food consumption patterns also changed, resulting in increased consumption of various food products.
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