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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » July 2, 2010
America in Poland
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Improving the Investment Climate
July 2, 2010   
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Roman Rewald, chairman of the board of directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Poland, talks to Ewa Hancock.

What is the structure of AmCham in Poland?
The American Chamber of Commerce in Poland is an Illinois-based, not-for-profit organization whose Polish operations are based in Warsaw. It is governed by the Annual Shareholders Meeting, which every two years selects 11 members for its board of directors from which the directors select the president, vice-presidents, secretary and treasurer. The staff of AmCham in Poland is run by the executive director, who is in charge of eight people based in its office at 53 Emilii Plater St. in Warsaw.

AmCham’s main activities are exemplified by a monthly general meeting over breakfast every first Wednesday of the month, monthly mixers for American business people and quarterly meetings with CEOs of member companies. AmCham is also known for throwing excellent July 4 parties with the best fireworks in town and, once every five years, a truly American ball to celebrate its anniversary. This year, AmCham’s 20th anniversary will be marked by a ball on Oct. 23. The best and most effective of all of AmCham’s activities is the work of its 18 committees. The member companies of these committees regularly gather together to share information regarding their particular areas of interest, prepare important statements for American investors and organize conferences and seminars. AmCham also participates in the activities of Poland’s business organizations, being a founding member of the Entrepreneurship Congress (Kongres Przedsiębiorczo¶ci), which brings together Poland’s largest business organizations, and recently, Coalition Pro-Polska, an informal association of business organizations who are concerned with promoting Poland’s business interests abroad.

What are the most important areas of business between Poland and the United States?
During the last 20 years Poland and the U.S. have had many common areas of interest, mostly because of the assistance that the U.S., both the government and private business, has provided to Poland. Today, there is no longer a need to give Poland assistance as the country has now become one which gives assistance to others. Today the focus is mainly on searching for new, common business interests. The most significant transatlantic relationship between Poland and the U.S. today appears to be in the area of energy, including nuclear energy and, especially, potential cooperation in the exploration of allegedly vast deposits of shale gas in Poland. U.S. gas companies, as the most experienced in exploring shale gas, may play a pivotal role in developing this branch of the industry, which has the potential to make Poland a very wealthy country.

How big is American investment in Poland?
In January, AmCham, together with the KPMG company, published a report called “20 years of American Investment in Poland” and held a special conference on the subject. According to this report American investment in Poland amounts to $20 billion and over 180,000 jobs can be attributed to American businesses. We like to emphasize that there is no one sector in Poland in which American investors are dominant as they are involved in many different sectors of the economy. This, of course, could change with the recent discovery of shale gas and its potential distribution, but that remains to be seen in the future.

From the perspective of American companies, what makes doing business in Poland most difficult?
The American Chamber of Commerce in Poland supports all its partners at the Entrepreneurship Congress in creating a yearly blacklist of the problems that business faces in Poland. AmCham has its own list of wishes regarding the government, the most important of which are the improvement of infrastructure, especially road infrastructure, and an improvement in the way contracts are enforced in Poland. Recently, we have been active in pushing forward the idea that the promotion of Poland needs to be dramatically improved, which includes promoting Poland as an investment destination, giving assistance to existing investors in Poland and generally improving the investment climate in Poland by limiting the state’s role in the economy.

AmCham, together with its partners from other business organizations, is taking positive steps to improve the situation.
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