BPCC Chairman's and CEO's note

with Antoni F. Reczek and Paweł Siwecki

With a firm date for a Brexit referendum, the coming months will be dominated by the debate as to whether Britain should remain in or leave the EU. The BPCC believes it is in the best interest of both the UK and Poland for Britain to remain in. But the debate is likely to be heated, the result too close to call. One way or another, this will be a hectic year for the Chamber. As we advance into 2016, it is clear that it will be busier than ever.

The year has kicked off with a number of  major events in Warsaw, across Poland and the UK. As you can see below, the calendar is full of activities aimed at promoting BPCC members and offering networking opportunities with business – and the public sector.

At the invitation of the Marshal of Świętokrzyskie province, the BPCC's Krakow office organised a meeting on 12 January with regional exporters, during which members from Ebury, Lacrosse, Bibby Factors, KMC Logistics and law firm L&D explained to over 70 companies different aspects of doing business with the UK.

This was followed by the BPCC Kraków New Years Cocktail Party on 14 January.

On 20 January, our chief advisor Michael Dembinski was in Katowice to brief local members and guests on the investment climate in Poland, a lengthy discussion centred around the prospects of Brexit followed the presentation. Member firms Grant Thornton and Ebury also took an active part in the event.

Risk management was the topic of our first policy group event of the year. Representatives of Lloyds of London, the British Standards Institution, PwC, Dentons and Howden Group came to the British Embassy in Warsaw on 25 January to look at identifying, assessing, mitigating and transferring risk, based on UK best practice and standards. Over 50 members took part, the panel discussion was particularly lively.

The BPCC's friends of Scotland came together on 27 January to celebrate Robert Burns night with haggis, whisky and Scottish tradition. We hope Burns Night will become a permanent event in the BPCC calendar.  

Two workshops explaining the changes in Poland's tax law were organised by the BPCC Wrocław office; on 3 February in Poznań (with Grant Thornton), and on  16 February in Wrocław itself (with Baker Tilly).

Over in the UK, the BPCC took part in an event at the House of Commons on 4 February, highlighting the contribution made to the UK economy by Polish entrepreneurs. Our chief advisor, Michael Dembinski was among the panellists, and PBLink founder, Bartek Kowalczyk, was among the 30-plus Polish business people who've set up companies in the UK present. Polish Ambassador Witold Sobków and Dr Matthew Offord MP spoke at the reception that followed the panel discussion.

In Birmingham on 17 February, there was a meeting of the Manufacturing Industries policy group hosted by Roedl & Partner. Speakers included senior representatives of big BPCC manufacturing members, Johnson Matthey Battery Systems, GKN Driveline and Rolls-Royce. The Polish Embassy's trade and investment team was also present.

Back in Warsaw, the British Embassy was the venue for a meeting of the Transport, Logistics and Infrastructure policy group on 19 February. The event, Infrastructure in Poland,  was a chance for members to hear the new government's plans for road and rail projects, financed mainly by EU funds from the 2014-2020 financial perspective. Under-secretary of state at the new Ministry of Development, Witold Słowik, set out the programme, and listened to members' concerns about the barriers they faced when dealing with public procurement. Representatives of member firms Mott MacDonald, Deloitte, DZP and Profitia/CIPS were present.

On 23 February, the BPCC was represented by two BPCC representatives  at a meeting organised by the International Group of Chambers of Commerce with finance minister, Paweł Szałamacha. Among the subjects discussed were the controversial new turnover taxes on banks and retail chains. On the same day a multi-chamber speed-business networking event held in Poznań was organised by the BPCC's Wrocław office.

Another PBlink seminar took place in Ealing, West London, on 24 February, inaugurating the fourth year of cooperation between PBlink and the BPCC, working together to network and promote Polish entrepreneurship in the UK.

Thirteen events in less than six weeks!   

At the same time, the BPCC has been involved in three major policy initiatives with third parties. The German chamber of commerce, the AHK, has brought together other chambers in Poland from across the EU to prepare a joint letter to deputy premier Mateusz Morawiecki, concerning the implementation of the EU Directive on public procurement into Polish law. We consulted our members, asking them to identify the major obstacles they face when tendering for public projects, and what changes should be made.

Meanwhile, the French chamber, the CCIFP, coordinated the drafting of a joint letter from international chambers to Henryk Kowalczyk, minister – member of the Council of Ministers, and Paweł Szałamacha, the finance minister, concerning the new retail tax regime.

Finally, the BPCC has joined the Alliance for Personalised Medicine, and will be actively supporting the development of molecular and genetic diagnosis for an entirely new approach to healthcare.

Trade and export activities are traditionally centred around one-to-one help to British exporters, but recently the BPCC has begun actively promoting export opportunities uploaded on https://www.exportingisgreat.gov.uk/. Our export support for British exporters runs on a year from 1 April – 31 March, so we are nearing the third year of a very successful partnership with UKTI. A BPCC Trade Mission from the UK is coming to Warsaw on 15 March, please join us for the evening networking at the Polonia Hotel to meet inbound businesses.

Please save the date for our second Exporting to the UK forum, which will take place on 19 May in Kraków. This will be a chance to meet Polish-owned medium-sized businesses looking for trade partners that can help them enter the UK market. Details to follow soon.

Please pencil Wednesday 27 April in for the Annual General Meeting at the British Embassy Warsaw (12.00 – 13.30). We hope to see you there!

And finally – after 24 years – a major change. The BPCC will no longer be holding an Annual Ball; this year instead, we will be sitting down to a Gala Dinner, which will be held on Thursday, 27  October.

Read more: http://bpcc.org.pl/contact-magazine/issues/12/