On 2 March 2017, entrepreneurs from Upper Silesia and Zaglębie along with representatives of local business support and development institutions met for an event organised by the BPCC. The event took place at the Reden Panorama Bar in a newly-opened Hotel Holliday Inn in Dąbrowa Górnicza. The economic debate was dedicated to investment climate in Silesia, focusing on the factors for choosing the region as a base for the operations in Central Europe. Guest of honour was Marcin Bazylak, deputy mayor of Dąbrowa Górnicza.
Urszula Kwaśniewska, regional director of BPCC, greeted the guests, after whom spoke Paweł Siwecki, the BPCC’s CEO who said that in the chamber’s Silver Jubilee year, the BPCC is even closer to its members in the regions as well as offering comprehensive investor support.
The debate was initiated by Anna Zapart, senior manager at Grant Thornton, who discussed the results of the 10th edition of the survey Investment climate in Poland. The survey is conducted each year by PAIiIZ (recently transformed into the Polish Agency of Investment and Export, PAIH) and Grant Thornton. The overall rating for the investment climate in Poland is 3.75 in the scale of 1-5 and is a noticeable improvement compared to 2007 when the report was conducted for the first time. Upper Silesia was rated at 3.84, slightly better than the rest of the country.
The advantages of doing business in Poland include a large and receptive market, availability of materials and components, availability of sources of finance, a much improved transport infrastructure, support from public institutions and economical zones which offer attractively located land with easy access to transport routes. The availability of well-educated graduates and professionals was also noted. As an ideal place that combines business, education and public sector Ms Zapart gave the example of Opole, the city that’s well managed and supports its sustainable development. The quality of the legal and regulatory environment and the inflexibility of auditing authorities were indicated as areas for improvement across in Poland and Upper Silesia.
97% of respondents would choose Poland as a place for their operations again.
Michael Dembinski, the BPCC’s chief advisor, presented the results of the foreign direct investment report conducted for 14 international chambers operating in Poland, including the BPCC. It assesses the impact of FDI on Poland’s economic development, and looks at the direct and indirect benefits that foreign capital invested in Poland has brought over the past 25 years. The report was premiered the previous day at the Ministry of Economic Development in Warsaw. The overall cumulative value of foreign direct investment in Poland is 712 billion zlotys.
The report showed that among the main benefits for Poland was the acquisition of know-how and knowledge on how to do business on international level and improving the organisational culture in firms. As a result, Polish firms can compete more effectively on international markets. The majority of income generated by foreign firms remain mainly in Poland, with more than half of profits getting reinvested. However, international and Polish firms all seek a greater legislative and regulatory predictability.
Mr Dembinski referred also to the impact of Brexit to the value of British pound. Currently the exchange rate is attractive to British exporters, having fallen against the zloty by 16%. The final outcome of Brexit will all be down to the negotiations, and will affect different sectors in dofferent ways. Should the UK leave the European single market and the customs union, the automotive industry, with its complex supply chains, could be hard hit, but the IT sector is less likely to be affected. Because the UK’s manufacturing sector contributes a lower proportion of the country’s GDP than countries like Poland or Germany, the UK is forced to import more goods than it exports, it is likely to maintain a high trade deficit after Brexit, and will still have to import many goods – and indeed food. Although it will be harder to export to the UK because of new tariffs, regulations and customs barriers, the UK will still be a great opportunity for Polish manufacturers because of Poland’s lower cost base and relative proximity to the market.
Both Ms Zapart and Mr Dembinski answered questions from the participants in the open session, and the area of interest seemed to be the legislative field and regulations. The talks were continued in an informal way during the lunch that followed the meeting, and many business cards were exchanged.