Partners in Difficult Times
October 31, 2013
Belgium's ambassador to Poland, Raoul Delcorde, talks to Ewa Hancock.
Are Poland and Belgium good partners for difficult times?
Yes, I believe so. They have been good partners throughout history. Even without mentioning the historical background, I would say that today Belgian companies are taking part in the development of the Polish economy. The Belgian government is highly supportive of the Polish government’s priorities when it comes to where the EU is heading and the development of European institutions. There is a strong partnership in both political and economic terms.
In what sectors of the Polish economy are Belgian businesses doing best?
I can think of three main areas. The first and most obvious one that you see when you walk through Warsaw and other Polish cities is the real estate sector. One example is the Warsaw Spire, which is rising from the ground in front of the Hilton Hotel and will become the tallest skyscraper in Warsaw. This is a project by [Belgian developer] Ghelamco, just like many other important projects in Warsaw. Other Belgian companies have built hotels and sports centers and been involved in various housing estates. Poland’s needs in terms of real estate are huge and Belgian companies are here to meet these needs.
The second field where Belgian business is doing fine is industry. Belgian companies have state-of-the-art factories in Poland. For instance, there is the lime sector, in which we have four different factories in Poland.
There is also a factory that produces foam, needed in many kinds of equipment. We have the most advanced foam producer, Eurofoam, in Zgierz. I should also mention a very recent project by the Solvay company. Their factory is still under construction near Inowrocław and it will produce tire components.
Then, the third field where Belgium is doing fine and really picking up is a special niche in the food industry. Polish consumers have grown to appreciate Belgian beer and chocolate. We see those more often not only in stores, but in places like Batida cafes and bistros. I mention Batida, because they use Belgian chocolate in their cakes.
What would you like to accomplish before you leave Poland?
One thing which I hope I will be able to accomplish is the Belgian Day at the Economy Ministry here in Warsaw. During the event, Belgian investors would meet with Economy Minister Janusz Piechociński, the staff, people from PAIiIZ [the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency] and other investment agencies, to talk about their success stories and, sometimes, the obstacles they have met. Both parties will learn about the Belgian experience in Poland. I have already mentioned this to the Polish Economy Ministry and their first reaction was positive. I hope to accomplish this in the spring of 2014.
On the political front, I hope my prime minister will come on a visit to Poland, but this is a big “but” because we have an election coming in Belgium in May. As a result, the prime minister may not have the time to come on a visit.
Last but not least, next year will mark 15 years since we had our last royal state visit. That was in 1999 by the previous king and I hope that King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, who is half-Polish, will pay a state visit to Poland. President Bronisław Komorowski is a cousin of Queen Mathilde.