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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » May 31, 2012
Italy in Poland
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Land of Opportunity
May 31, 2012   
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Donato Di Gilio, chairman of the Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Poland, talks to Ewa Hancock.

What kind of opportunities attract Italian companies to the Polish market?
Poland is perceived as a very attractive place to do business.

There are many sectors of great interest to Italian investors, such as the chemical sector, construction, logistics, white goods, food products, tourism, aviation, and the automotive sector.

Poland offers great opportunities for Italian companies from different points of view: human resources, labor costs, investment potential, tax incentives, and location. The exemption from corporate income tax (CIT) in Special Economic Zones promotes the development of new enterprises.

Human capital is of big value in Poland: a market of 20 million young people, and a well qualified labor force.

Poland’s geographical position in the center of Europe facilitates expansion into other markets across the EU, including growing Eastern European markets.

Besides that, the Polish market offers excellent opportunities for Italian trade because of the great demand for Italian products here.

In what sectors of the Polish economy are Italian businesses doing best?
I think we have a lot of experience in different segments of the economy, from the automotive industry to household appliances, from aviation to food processing, through financial services to construction. Estimates show that more than 1,500 Italian companies are active in Poland, including around 800 small and medium-sized enterprises. Italy is Poland’s fourth-largest commercial partner, after Germany, Russia and China.

Fiat, Ferrero and Indesit were the first big Italian companies to invest in Poland. Now we have more than 75 big Italian brands—Barilla, Mapei, Pirelli, and Brembo, to name a few.

The biggest Italian investors in Poland, Fiat, Unicredit, Marcegaglia Group, Brembo and Mapei, are active in different sectors of the economy and their investments amount to around 4 billion euros.

We mustn’t forget Agusta Westland and Astaldi either when it comes to important Italian investors in Poland.

I would say that many Italian companies from different sectors are really putting in a good performance at a very high level—first of all thanks to their professionalism, know-how, experience but also thanks to the excellent and extensive cooperation between our countries.

What are the main obstacles to doing business in Poland?
Doing business in Poland, as in other foreign countries, requires an understanding of the business environment and business culture. Of course, we have to deal with differences related to tradition, history, regulation, policies, organizational culture, work habits and language.

I can say that in my experience, as a businessman dealing with business in Poland for the last 20 years, what is important is to learn some key lessons: getting to know the environment not only from a business point of view but also in social, religious and cultural terms; learning the ropes of accounting and legal practice; and being able to build relationships. But the most important thing is that every business deals with people. This means we have to treat them with respect, understand their needs as individuals. I think in this way every obstacle will just turn into a challenge and an opportunity to draw mutual inspiration from doing the best we can.
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