The 3rd European Union - China Economic Cooperation Forum - 30-05-2014
Graf. PTWP

After high hopes from two or three years ago, concerning the economic relations between Poland and China, we are somewhat disappointed today. The political rapprochement did not result in any spectacular contracts. The causes for such a situation and the ideas for breaking the deadlock were discussed during the 3rd European Union – China Economic Cooperation Forum which took place as part of the European Economic Congress in Katowice.

In spite of some successful Chinese transactions completed in Poland (the civil part of Huta Stalowa Wola or Fabryka Łożysk Tocznych in Kraśnik), the participation of Covec in the motorway construction programme, which ended in a failure, has remained an infamous symbol of cooperation between Poland and China. Worse still, the mutual knowledge of cooperation between both countries is often being reduced to that episode. It was precisely the lack of knowledge of business conditions predominant in both countries that the attendees of the debates referred to as the basic reason for the unsatisfying contacts.

However, there are also other causes. When it comes to investments, Chinese business seems interested in acquisitions rather than Greenfield-type projects, whereas Poland does not have much to offer in this regard to our potential partners from behind the Great Wall: some of the industries have already been privatised earlier and the Polish authorities are unwilling to lose control over the remaining ones with majority Treasury shareholding.

In part, however, the intensity of cooperation below expectations results from the fact that it began almost at the same time when China began to change its economic model, moving from an export-oriented economy to the building of a strong internal market. In other words, the Chinese economy has to gather strength for further development.

The change of the economic model is both a risk and a huge opportunity in general, and for Poland in particular. To put it in a nutshell, it means that China ceases to be a mere factory of the world and becomes a consumer, which presents Polish exporters with new opportunities. It was clear from the debates held during the EEC 2014 that the Chinese will be interested in the import of consumer goods in the near future.

The aspirations of the Chinese society are growing fast; therefore, a doubt could arise from the utterances made during the debate as to whether the rest of the world will manage to satisfy the rapidly growing appetite of the Middle Kingdom this time. What are the conclusions? We should strengthen mutual contacts, deepen mutual knowledge (the cooperation between universities was an interesting idea in this regard) and adapt to the rapidly changing conditions. There has been no reason to complain about the lack of flexibility of either Polish or Chinese entrepreneurs to date.

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