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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 18, 2009
Italy in Poland
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More Than Food And Fashion
November 18, 2009   
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Emilio Lolli, economic counsellor at the Italian embassy in Warsaw, talks to Hilary Heuler about economic relations between Poland and Italy.

Italy is one of the most important trade partners for Poland. How significant is this relationship on the Italian side?
I would say that this relationship is also very important for Italy. The question is interesting, because we in the embassy always talk about the position of Italy in Poland. But after checking, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Poland is also very important for Italy as a foreign trade partner. This year we held the first Enhanced Summit between Poland and Italy, with the participation of the two prime ministers, together with five ministers on each side, including those with economy and infrastructure portfolios. This kind of summit is only organized with our main partners in the European Union, so the fact that we held it here is very significant. Poland is the ninth most important destination for our exports, and the 14th main source of imports. So it's a fairly well-balanced, mutual relationship, one that is positive for both countries. The fact that Poland joined the EU was of course very important in terms of trade relations, since inside the common market everything is easier.

Do Italian investors see the Polish market as a single country or as a number of separate regions?
I think they see it as a single country. They probably are interested in the special economic zones, but those zones aren't the same as the regions. I think these zones are an important tool for attracting investment. One example is £ód¼, where Indesit has four factories, two of them built just last year. Indesit's executives report cooperation is perfect with the authorities there, and there has been a sort of household appliances "district" created around the company's premises. It's worth talking about these districts-there is also one around Fiat-where smaller producers follow the big companies to sell them parts.

What is the main Italian export to Poland? And what is the main Polish export to Italy?
When I first asked myself this question, I was thinking that probably food or fashion were Italy's main exports to Poland. They are of course very important, but I was surprised to find that it is actually machinery. Italy exports technology, mainly in the mechanical sector, which I think is good because it shows that Italy is contributing to the development of Poland's industry. Often Italy is not considered to be a technological country, but we clearly do have a lot to add to this sector. As for imports from Poland to Italy, the main imports are actually cars. There are a lot of car producers in Poland, and one of the biggest is Fiat. It's a historical presence dating back to the 1920s-there is a museum of historical cars outside Warsaw, and there you can find a bus from the 1930s produced by Fiat Polska. And right now, factories in southern Poland are producing the new Fiat 500. It's one of Fiat's jewels, very popular in Italy, and it's only produced in Poland. Other companies also produce here-Indesit, for example, Ferrero, and many others-which is a sign that very sophisticated goods with a lot of added value are made in Poland. Italian manufacturers trust factories here to produce high-quality products.
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