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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » September 30, 2011
Italy in Poland
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Business Across Cultural Boundaries
September 30, 2011   
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Donato Di Gilio, chairman of the Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Poland, talks to Ewa Hancock.

You have been chairman of the Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce for the last two years. How has the chamber changed over this time?
The Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce plays an increasingly important role on the Polish business scene. Italian Chamber membership now covers many segments of the economy and includes business organizations of every size. Being responsible for representing such diverse interests, we operate more effectively not only in the economic and political environment but also in the social community.

How does the chamber help Italian investors?
The chamber supports Italian investors in dealing with central government and local authorities and helps them build connections that benefit their business. We also offer a matching service between Italian and Polish companies, aimed at finding business partners. Besides that, we are a member of the Polish Confederation of Private Employers, of which our secretary-general Cristiano Pinzauti is one of the vice- presidents. We are the only international chamber that indirectly takes part in and—on behalf of PKPP Lewiatan—influences the activities of the Trilateral Commission.

We are also a member of the International Group of Chambers of Commerce, an organization that brings together most of the biggest European chambers and the American chamber, based on the idea of our former president Vittorio Hemsi. The Italian Chamber of Commerce offers opportunities to participate in seminars, forums and round-table discussions with authorities, members of the administration and international leaders.

We also provide our members with value-added programs such as discounts on different kinds of services.

Does the chamber conduct any lobbing on behalf of Italian companies?
I wouldn’t say that the chamber conducts lobbying; we are not a lobbying firm. What we do for our members is to help them contact and deal with local and central government authorities and Polish and Italian institutions. The chamber, as a member of PKPP Lewiatan, can also represent companies in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Brussels and in the Entrepreneurship Council.

We also provide networking opportunities and bring the business community together by finding a common area of interest.

What are the barriers that Italian companies face when doing business in Poland?
Doing business across cultural boundaries often carries some risks. Even if everybody now agrees that equipping people with the appropriate cultural awareness impacts and influences business effectively, it is hard to entirely adapt to cultural differences. The biggest barriers that Italian companies face in Poland are essentially the different kind of organizational culture, the local bureaucracy and the language. After observing the Polish market, Italian companies and the relations between them for more than 20 years I can say that these barriers can also be challenging for business development. At the end of the day, after having done business, Italians and Poles always find common ground.
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