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The Warsaw Voice » Business » March 29, 2012
Business & Economy
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Cross-Border Economic Ties
March 29, 2012   
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Almost 1,000 politicians, businesspeople and academics took part in early March in the 19th Economic Forum in the northern city of Toruń. The main theme of the event was cross-border economic ties.

The Toruń forum is one of the largest get-togethers of its kind in Poland, a platform for discussion about the shape of the Polish economy in a globalized world. Participants in the conference and panel discussions talked about current problems in Poland and Europe. The debate centered on economic challenges faced by Poland and cross-border ties in Europe.

“A good example of such cross-border economic ties is the Biedronka retail chain owned by the Portuguese company Jeronimo Martins,” said Jacek Janiszewski, president of the Program Council of the Integration and Cooperation Association, the organizer of the forum. “When it was entering Poland, we feared that its presence would hurt Polish farmers. But rather than choking the Polish agricultural business, the company offered it an opportunity. Working with Polish producers, it started to send Polish products to the country of its origin.”

The role of big retail chains in the expansion of Polish food exports was the topic of one of the discussion panels. Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki, who took part in the forum, said that such chains may present both an opportunity and a threat to agricultural producers. “Polish products are present on foreign markets thanks to some retail chains,” Sawicki said. “As a result, the value of Polish agri-food exports—owing to their quality and competitive prices—is now impressive, reaching 15 billion euros last year. But it is worth encouraging the chains to attach more importance to the brand names of the firms which produce the products.”

Dariusz Sapiński, president of the Mlekovita dairy cooperative, said on his part that it was thanks to the big chains that Polish consumers have an opportunity to buy high-quality products at low prices. And Tomasz Suchański, managing director at Jeronimo Martins Dystrybucja, said that chains such as Biedronka, where Polish products account for over 90 percent of what it sells, enabled Polish agricultural producers, both big and small, to expand or survive in recent years.

There was also a debate about development prospects for districts where deposits of fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, have been discovered.
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