How have Polish-French relations changed over the past 25 years?
French investors have responded to Poland’s needs. We have been involved in privatisation processes since the beginning. There have been huge foreign investments and this seems to be forgotten today. It started with company acquisitions (TP SA, Orbis), restructuring, and technology transfers. It was followed by the supplementation of services, more greenfield investments, and the relocation of industry. Since accessing the European Union, Poland has made a massive transformation and is a developed country today. Human capital is very high. This is what we call partnership. We constantly need new technologies and digitalisation but this is what we are actually working on.
The energy sector is also important.
Absolutely. We will soon know the decision on the selection of a contractor for Poland’s first nuclear power plant. Poland no longer needs to adapt to the existing solutions, but can make its own decisions and determine the best course of action.
Nasi inwestorzy rozumieją, że Polska jest rozwiniętym rynkiem i aby odnieść sukces, należy dopasować się do potrzeb rynku – mówi François Colombié, wiceprezes Francusko-Polskiej Izby Gospodarczej.
What place do French investors hold in the Polish economy now?
We are third in the ranking. Germany is first and we share our place with the United States. We have invested EUR 20 billion, which has translated into 200,000 jobs in Poland. With subsidiary businesses, this is up to 400,000 jobs.
What is the role of the French-Polish Chamber of Commerce?
It is ready to meet the needs of our members expecting tangible benefits. We still rely on networking and business contacts. This includes not only the relationships between companies but also with other organisations, such as the Employers of Poland, the National Chamber of Commerce, all foreign chambers, Lewiatan, and government administration. We also participate in legislative consultations and make proposals for many years to improve the economic situation.
We help investors who want to enter Poland or France. We have a specialised department that deals with partner search and market research. The coronavirus was followed by increased interest in the Polish market from French companies.
What are the prospects for further cooperation?
People sometimes tend to think that relations between France and Poland are worse than they used to be. They mean politics and unfortunate statements from both sides. However, the truth is that our investor base is strong. Half of the CEOs in French companies are Polish. This might not be reported in the media, but the base is solid and promising. People work together as partners. Take the example of EDF, a candidate to build a nuclear power plant. They also operate in the UK and up to 20% of their subcontractors are from Poland. This partnership will become even stronger.
Our investors understand that Poland is a developed market and they know they have to adapt to the needs of the market to succeed. Our Chamber can help with this and support Polish companies to grow in France.
—Recorded by Grzegorz Balawender
Partner: Francusko-Polska Izba Gospodarcza CCIFP