Vice premier touts Poland’s stability to Japan investors

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Poland has managed to construct an easy to predict and stable economy in response to the needs of Japanese investors, Polish Vice Prime Minister Janusz Piechocinski said.

During a four-day visit to Japan, Piechocinski, who doubles as economy minister, held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a group of Japanese business leaders to promote Poland’s products and services.

“Extension of the operation period of Poland’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ) until 2026 was the first proposal I made after having taken this post,” Piechocinski, who took his current post in December 2012, said in an interview with The Japan Times on Friday in Tokyo.

“We aimed to ensure stability in economy, which is required in any business.” The Council of Ministers passed the new regulations in July.

According to Piechocinski, extending the lifetime of SEZs, initially set to function until 2020, may attract new investors willing to locate factories in Poland.

Currently, there are 14 special economic zones that have been operating in Poland since 1995, allowing investors to benefit from special tax exemptions. For enterprises opting to establish a company in Poland, the new law will also enable them to reduce start-up costs.

As another strategy to attract Japanese investors, Piechocinski has also proposed a deregulation law to ease conditions for businesses and bureaucratic procedures in Poland. The proposed solutions will impose obligations on Polish cargo harbor facilities to shorten the inspection time to 24 hours.

Facilitation of transportation routes connecting Japanese companies located in Poland with their headquarters may become an important factor in drawing investors, Piechocinski said. He stressed that enforcement of the new law will bring a competitive advantage, as the tax payment conditions will be more favorable than in Germany’s Hamburg. This will enable Polish harbors function as a window between countries located outside of the EU and the entire Europe region, he said.

“The Polish coastal waters in the Gulf of Gdansk in northern Poland, where the Gdansk harbor is situated, is the only farthest east area of the Baltic Sea that does not freeze in winter,” he added.

Piechocinski stressed that in recent years the Polish market has gained new investors and it is still supposedly the most attractive market in Europe for automotive industry or home electronics businesses. He also said that many companies show interest in entering new sectors, like Hitachi Power Europe of the Hitachi Group, which is currently building a power unit at a hard coal-fired power station in Kozienice, near Warsaw.

With new investments, Poland can benefit from Japan’s latest technology in modernizing its energy sector, he said.

“Nearly 300 businesses run by Japanese companies in Poland have significantly contributed to its success — since 2009 Polish economy has not seen any drop in the country’s GDP.”

“As the Economy Minister, I can assure competitive attractiveness in Polish economy,” he said. “What we can also offer is high-quality human resources,” he said, adding that 10 percent of university students in Europe are of Polish nationality.

Poland has always declared the importance of relations between the two countries, Piechocinski said. Poland offered Japan its support and solidarity after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters.

Going back further in history, although Poland regained independence in November 1918 after World War I, it managed to establish diplomatic relations with Japan in 1919.

“Throughout these years, Poland and Japan managed to establish a mutual relationship and understanding despite the cultural difference,” he said, adding that Japanese culture enjoys great popularity with Polish people and vice-versa.

Piechocinski, who led the Polish delegation to Tokyo from Thursday to Sunday, is also the leader of the Polish People’s Party. Piechocinski was accompanied by Ilona Antoniszyn-Klik, undersecretary of state at the Economy Ministry, and polish business representatives.