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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » June 29, 2012
America in Poland
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Big U.S. Investment Welcome
June 29, 2012   
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Polish Deputy Economy Minister Ilona Antoniszyn-Klik talks to Andrzej Ratajczyk.

How would you evaluate the current state of economic cooperation between Poland and the United States?
We have good economic relations with the United States. We want to shape them further in such a way so as to make sure that bilateral cooperation is even more beneficial to both partners.

We must keep in mind that the United States is the world’s largest importer and the most advanced economy in terms of technology. The conditions for doing business there are very good. European business people can easily and efficiently export goods and services from the United States to other places in the world. I think this is a market of many opportunities, also for those Polish exporters for whom the United States is not as yet a priority market.

At the moment, nearly 80 percent of Poland’s exports in terms of value go to markets across Europe. We would like to change this situation by making it easier for Polish companies to establish a presence on non-European markets such as Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Algeria, Turkey, and the United States.

To this end we have established a network of Exporters’ and Importers’ Service Centers (COIE), in which experts help businesspeople for free to find potential business partners in other countries, including the United States. They also provide information about the conditions of doing business on selected markets abroad and help determine where it is the most advantageous to start selling specific products or services. To take advantage of the services of COIE experts it is enough to send a question by e-mail or make an appointment at one of the 16 centers operating out of the province chairmen’s offices in Poland’s largest cities.

Thanks to the Exporters’ and Importers’ Service Centers, in addition to other factors, we are already seeing an improvement in Poland’s exports to the United States. That Polish firms are increasingly eager to do business in the United States is shown by the value of Polish exports to the U.S., which in 2011 totaled $3.7 billion, a threefold increase over 2003. Imports from the U.S. also increased by more than two and a half times during this period, reaching $4.8 billion in 2011.

Does the level of bilateral trade and direct investment reflect the potential of both countries?
It is difficult to compare Poland with the United States. The two countries are quite different in terms of economic potential. We are primarily interested in large U.S. investment projects associated with the creation of new jobs in Poland. The Americans, in turn, look for well-educated and qualified staff, which we can provide.

With our stable economy and large market, we attract investors from the United States interested in investing capital in our country. Research by KPMG and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) shows that key factors for American investors in choosing Poland as a location for their projects have included the quality of Polish workers, their professional skills and education, and the Polish economy’s potential for growth, its economic and financial stability and the size of the Polish market. Poland’s biggest selling point in the eyes of American investors is its location in the very center of Europe. We believe that American investors will continue to appreciate these pluses.

Certainly, our mutual economic cooperation has enormous potential. We can share experience and exchange knowledge in new and rapidly developing fields such as e-government, the internet economy, science and technology, and education. Especially valuable areas of Polish-American economic cooperation include energy, innovation, and biotechnology. The U.S. experience in these areas can be very useful for Poland.

What are the chances for a revival in bilateral economic relations?
The chances are high, but a lot of depends on what we do. First of all, we should vigorously promote Poland, its strengths and economic potential. This is the main factor in increasing trade and investment.

The Polish economy is now promoted by special departments abroad run by the Polish Ministry of the Economy. A network of 48 Trade and Investment Promotion Sections (WPHI) operate as part of Polish embassies and consulates on all continents. In the United States, such departments operate in Washington D.C. and New York. They provide information about Poland and the U.S. market, encourage American businesses to invest in our country and facilitate the establishment of economic relations between Polish and American companies.

We also want to increase the interest of Polish companies in the American market. Thanks to the network of Exporters’ and Importers’ Service Centers, small and medium-sized companies can be better prepared for starting business operations on foreign markets. Before they start operating in the U.S. they can find out about ways of making their presence felt in a specific area and about the business conditions there. They can find out about what kinds of products they can sell on the best terms and where as well as who they can work with.

Which sectors of the economy offer the best opportunities for developing cooperation?
Thanks to the high degree of flexibility of Polish and American companies, we can cooperate in various fields. When deciding to do business in the United States, Polish businesspeople should focus on food, natural and organic products, medical supplies or business services. Polish furniture, glass, ceramics, and yachts and boats have also been very sought after in the U.S. for years.

In addition, as part of the Economy Ministry’s promotion program, we have identified 15 Polish industries with the best prospects for development in terms of exports, ones that could be competitive not only in the U.S. but worldwide. These include the furniture industry, construction, windows and doors, protection and preservation of historical monuments, machinery and mining equipment, IT and ICT services, production of yachts and pleasure boats, jewelry and amber, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, medical and measuring equipment, cosmetics, clothing, leather accessories and goods, the defense industry, medical tourism, and Polish food specialties.

What do you expect from the Polish-American economic summit to be held in June?
The summit means a further strengthening of trade cooperation between the U.S. and Poland. So far we have established close economic relations with the United States, and we also share political and military ties.

The Polish-American summit will not be a one-off event. In the following months we expect to carry out joint promotional projects beneficial to both partners, in both Poland and the United States.
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