Professor Henry Srebrnik

Professor Henry Srebrnik

Monday, August 07, 2017

Poland Strengthens Trade Relations with China

By Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Journal Pioneer

During a visit to Poland in July I was walking in Warsaw's Lazienki Royal Baths Park, which occupies over 76 hectares of the city centre.

While I was there, a large Chinese trade delegation arrived for meetings with Polish officials at the Lazienki Palace, once a home of Poland's kings. It is situated in the park.

This did not come as a surprise. China views Poland as an important partner for cooperation in central and eastern Europe and within the European Union.

It is all part of China's project to recreate the ancient Silk Road that served as an avenue of trade between China and Europe.

The new Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious rail and maritime network, will encompass some 60 countries, in a drive by China to become a bigger player in global trade.

But it cannot be fully implemented without Poland. So perhaps for the first time in China’s long history, entering Poland lies in China's strategic interests.

"Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit," Chinese President Xi Jinping told the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which met May 14-15 in Beijing.

Poland's Amber Road rail project, which will cover countries in the Baltic region, is a major component of the Chinese plan in this part of Europe, remarked Xi .

Meeting with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, who was in Beijing to attend the Forum, Xi highlighted environmental protection, finance, high-tech industries, infrastructure and logistics as areas where China and Poland could step up collaboration.

"I am counting on further close cooperation in the political sphere within the framework of comprehensive strategic partnership and that it results in mutually beneficial, measurable economic ties," Szydlo said after her face-to-face meetings with Xi ahead of the summit.

"We want to cooperate with China in the fields of infrastructure, environment, tourism and cultural exchange," she added while in Beijing.

"The Belt and Road is perceived as a realization of the strategic partnership that has been connecting the two countries since 2011," stated Krzysztof Senger, Vice President of PAIH, the Polish Agency for Investment and Trade.

During a visit to Warsaw June 19-21, 2016, President Xi reached agreements with Polish President Andrzej Duda to promote economic ties within China's Belt and Road and Poland's Amber Road frameworks.

Some 40 deals and memoranda of understanding were signed, mostly related to construction, raw materials, energy, new technologies, finance and science.

"I am convinced that Poland can continue to have a very important role in building ties between China and Europe," Xi told a news conference.

In his talks with Xi, Duda said that "Poland stands ready to become a portal to Europe for the world's second largest economy."

Addressing the Polish-Chinese international conference in Opole, in southwest Poland, on April 25 of this year, Duda reminded the delegates that the evolving Belt and Road Initiative is "proof that Poland appreciates the meaning of this project and is very interested in it."

Concrete examples of common initiatives could already be seen, such as the Lodz-Chengdu rail cargo connection and partnerships between various academic and research centers.

Xu Jian, the Chinese ambassador to Poland, asserted that Poland, as a big and important country, was an important partner for China.

Poland is a "gate to Europe" as far as the Belt and Road Initiative is concerned," Xu said, adding between 2013 and 2016, Chinese-Polish trade volume rose from 14.8 billion U.S. dollars to 17.6 billion U.S. dollars, with a six per cent average annual growth rate.

Poland has seen numerous Chinese banks open branches throughout the country. They promote further Sino-Polish cooperation in energy, resources, transportation, infrastructure and manufacturing. They also seek to enlist overseas financial advisors to help Chinese enterprises expand abroad.

The Bank of China branch in Warsaw, opened in 2012,is fully integrated into the Polish financial market and provides comprehensive services to Chinese and Polish entities and individuals.

It has been involved in a number of important projects. For example, it provided 140 million U.S. dollars in refinancing credit support to Capital Park Group, invested in the Eurocentrum Office Complex, and participated in a real estate project with the Polish Blue City Group.

China Everbright International recently acquired Poland’s largest waste disposal company, Novago, with financial support from the Polish branch of the Bank of China. Worth about 141million U.S. dollars, this deal is the largest project ever undertaken in Poland by a Chinese enterprise.

Chinese-Polish economic relations are growing, as the Belt and Road Initiative takes shape.

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