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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » February 23, 2012
Switzerland in Poland
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Dynamic Development
February 23, 2012   
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Lukas Beglinger, the Swiss ambassador to Poland, talks to Ewa Hancock.

How do you assess the outlook for Swiss-Polish trade relations?
Bilateral trade and investment relations have developed in a dynamic manner since Poland’s accession to the EU. In 2011, total bilateral trade volume amounted to 3.3 billion CHF (zl.11.5 billion), which exceeded Switzerland’s trade volume with countries such as Canada, Brazil or South Korea and was roughly equivalent to our trade figures with Russia. With a cumulative stock of direct investments of more than 5 billion CHF, Switzerland ranks seventh among foreign investors. Swiss companies continue to perceive Poland as a highly promising market and interesting partner country which offers considerable growth and cooperation potential in many fields. Many companies use Poland as a production hub for exports both to the East and West, including to highly competitive markets such as Germany. Thanks to its excellent fundamentals and numerous assets, in particular its talented and ambitious labor force, Poland represents much more to Swiss investors than just an extension of their production facilities. All major multinational Swiss companies are present in Poland, but increasingly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well. Switzerland and its companies, products and services enjoy an outstanding reputation in Poland; in fact, according to a recent study, Switzerland is ranked first in terms of the general image of its products and services in Poland. The deep-rooted, historic mutual sympathy between the Swiss and Polish people and the fact that they share a lot of essential values and attitudes are highly conducive to ever closer economic ties.

Hence, it is essential that business and the governments of both countries contribute to tap and exploit this great potential as much as possible. Among others, there is high potential in innovative sectors. Poland has excellent universities with a long-standing tradition in research. In addition to scientific cooperation with Swiss partners, I observe that innovative Swiss companies are attracted by the rich pool of well-skilled and motivated young Polish workers. With its experience in applied sciences and a private sector driven by R&D capacities, Switzerland is an interesting partner for Poland.

What is the Swiss embassy doing to encourage growth in this area?
The promotion of bilateral economic and scientific relations is a clear priority in our embassy’s work, as illustrated by the recent Swiss economic mission to Poland. Our Swiss Business Hub supports Swiss SMEs keen on entering the Polish market and our Swiss Tourism Office promotes Switzerland’s tourist attractions—both are very busy! The Swiss Contribution Office is in charge of the largest bilateral cooperation program ever undertaken by Switzerland in the context of its enlargement contribution to Poland (489 million CHF or zl.1.7 billion). This important program will contribute considerably to strengthen Swiss-Polish relations in many areas, such as science and innovation, partnership and cooperation projects between local government entities, universities and NGOs. We trust that the contacts and cooperation established through the numerous projects promote the exchange of experience and know-how, mutual understanding and learning and will contribute to enhancing our bilateral relations at all levels.

Do Swiss businesses have confidence in Poland?
As mentioned, Swiss businesses generally consider Poland a stable and reliable partner with excellent fundamentals and promising prospects. The majority of Swiss enterprises with a commercial presence in Poland entrusted the management of their local companies to Polish nationals, which testifies to their confidence in this country and its people. On the other hand, awareness of Poland’s business potential can and should be further enhanced in Switzerland. In the 1990s, Swiss business reacted rather slowly and prudently to the fundamental transformation taking place in Poland, but this reserved attitude has meanwhile given way to a highly positive and active approach. I rarely meet a Swiss executive who is not impressed by the determination with which Poland is transforming and developing its economy.

Do you expect this year’s European soccer championships to lead to an increase in Swiss visitors to Poland?
The Swiss people will pay a lot of attention to Poland during the tournament, which is most welcome for our bilateral relations. We had the pleasure of co-hosting the Euro 2008 tournament. I am impressed by the dedication of the Polish authorities involved in preparing this year’s championships. As the Swiss national football team did not qualify for Euro 2012, I do not expect masses of Swiss football fans to come to Poland, but the Swiss-based UEFA and FIFA headquarters and numerous football enthusiasts of foreign nationality living in Switzerland will certainly contribute to the number of visitors from my country.
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