On Tuesday, Michael Dembinski and Konrad Kubacki took part in an international trade day with companies from the North-West of England, held at the Lancashire County Cricket Club. Representatives of 12 British chambers from around the world (including Poland), presented their markets and the opportunities there for UK exporters. Afterwards, there was time for the local companies to speak individually to chamber staff from those countries in which they were interested in exporting to. Michael and Konrad between them met representatives of 12 companies who wanted to sell their products to Poland. Some needed to find agents or distributors, others needed help in opening doors to strategic clients, whilst most were judged as having products and services that could be sold competitively on the Polish market. Michael Dembinski, the BPCC's head of policy, said: “This event formula is extremely effective. It gives us the chance to showcase the opportunities for UK exporters in Poland, but even more importantly, it lets us talk face-to-face and offer bespoke practical help to those companies interested in doing business in Poland. I hope that other British chambers around the UK will put on similar events.
On Wednesday, the action moved to London, where at the headquarters of the London Chamber of Commerce, representatives of the 12 international chambers met representatives of accredited British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) from around the UK to talk practically about how to mesh their operations so that the 'push' from the UK would be synchronised with the 'pull' from the international markets. Michael and Konrad were joined by the BPCC's chairman, Antoni F. Reczek and CEO Paweł Siwecki, the director of the BPCC's trade team, Patrick Ney, and Monika Samuś, who is responsible for the new British Polish Business Centre. The event gave the Poland team the chance to compare their strengths and weaknesses with other British chambers around the world. “Of all the international chambers present, there are only a handful that are ahead of us in terms of being able to deliver services to UK exporters. We have a strategic agreement in place with the British Embassy in Warsaw, we've opened a business centre, we are already delivering services to British companies,” said Paweł Siwecki.
Part of the meeting revolved around accreditation of chambers, so that each one in the network would be delivering services to an agreed standard. “The key thing about accreditation is to ensure that chambers have the governance and resources to carry out the work needed to boost UK exports to a given market,” said Antoni Reczek, who will be helping the BCC accredit British chambers around the CEE region. There was also a discussion about digital platforms, access to databases and trade statistics to make the management of export promotion easier. The day was rounded off by a speech from Ken Clarke, minister without portfolio and trade envoy.
On Thursday, at Westminster Central Hall, the BCC held a major export conference, bringing together chambers from around the UK and around the world with UK exporters large and small. As well as hearing addresses from business secretary Vince Cable and his shadow, Chuka Umunna, there were inspiring presentations from speakers associated with legendary UK brands, such as Morgan and Barbour, Tyrrell Crisps and Cobra Beer. At a panel session looking at the UK chamber network worldwide, Antoni Reczek joined his opposite numbers from Mexico and Indonesia to discuss how British exporters can best be supported while entering foreign markets.
On Friday, the BPCC visited the Polish Embassy in London, to meet the ambassador, Witold Sobków, to discuss the current state of Polish-UK economic and business relations, after which Paweł Siwecki and Michael Dembinski had a meeting with trade attaché Leszek Banaszak focused on joint events to be co-organised during the rest of this year and in 2014. These events will look at sectors such as logistics, defence and security, tourism, fashion and public-private partnerships.