Biuletin nr 54

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Minister Henk Kamp

participates in NPCC business drink NPCC sends open letter to the Polish government

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54 Spring 2016


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Bulletin Spring 2016 6

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NPCC

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CHAMBER CALENDAR

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REPORT

A word from the Chairman

Minister Henk Kamp at our business drink

10 NEWS

FROM THE NPCC

14 ANALYSIS Open letter to the government 17 COLUMN

Staf Beems

Minister Kamp particpates in NPCC business drink

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18 INTERVIEW

Chief Economist of ING Bank Śląski Rafał Benecki

20 INTERVIEW

Adriaan Palm Chargé d’affaires Netherlands Embassy

22 COLUMN

Paweł P. Mlicki, Ph.D.

23 COLUMN

Huub Droogh

24 INTERVIEW Coen Meijer’s outlook on doing business in Wielkopolska 27 NEW

MEMBERS

NPCC’s open letter to the government

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30 NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS 32 ANALYSIS Why S&P downgraded its credit rating 33 NEWS FROM THE EMBASSY

34 COLUMN

Remco van der Kroft

Adriaan Palm Chargé d’affaires Netherlands Embassy

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NPCC

Word of the Chairman Dear members and friends of the Chamber,

Bulletin is the quarterly magazine of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce. It aims to provide a selection of important and relevant information about the chamber and on bilateral business relations and activities between the Netherlands and Poland. Go to our website www.nlchamber. com.pl to find previous issues of our bulletin. Please email any of your comments to office@ nlchamber.com.pl. Publisher: NPCC Managing Editor: Elro van den Burg Editor: Anna Kawałowska Karolina Brudek-Slegers Columnists: Huub Droogh Paweł P. Mlicki Staf Beems Remco van der Kroft Photos: Elro van den Burg Netherlands Embassy in Poland Advertisement management: NPCC Contact: www.nlchamber.com.pl office@nlchamber.com.pl +48 22 279 46 67

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To start the year on a positive note, the Polish economy delivered another year of growth. According to the latest preliminary estimate at the end of January by the country’s Central Statistical Office (GUS), the Polish economy grew by 3.6 percent last year, up from 3.3 percent in 2014. The main driver of growth was domestic demand and net exports. Annual inflation is expected to be around 0.9% in 2016 and the unemployment rate will further fall towards around 9.5%, in a statement published by the National Bank. Based on this data, Poland remains an interesting destination for many foreign companies. Nevertheless, due to a shift in Polish politics, we can observe a change in the perception of Poland as a stable, predictable and credible economic partner. Based on the many calls we have received from concerned members, questions are being raised about the stability of the country and changes in the investment climate. Some members have announced that they will either postpone or re-allocate their future investments in Poland. These concerns are driven by several factors: 1. The recent downgrade of the S&P credit rating to BBB+ with a negative outlook. 2. The speed at which new legislation is being introduced and the limited dialogue with stakeholders prior to its implementation. 3. The recently announced and implemented sector-specific taxes (i.e. hypermarkets, banks and insurers). 4. In addition, recent public statements on foreign investors raise questions regarding Poland’s attitude towards investments from abroad. In our role as a representative body for the common interests of our members on issues that could impact the growth and prosperity of our community, we shared our concerns in a letter to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Development and the Minister of Finance and we requested to have a consultation and dialogue with them. As a result we have meetings planned with the Minister of Finance and Development (and economy). When we printed the bulletin it was still too early to say anything about the meetings. During the February business mixer, we welcomed the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Henk Kamp, and we shared our concerns with him as well. More details of his visit can be found in this Bulletin. We hope that the government will build on this signal from us and many other business communities and change its tone and future legislation towards the international business community in Poland. We still believe there is a sound base for Dutch-Polish entrepreneurship and as a chamber our number one goal remains to help businesses of all sizes to grow and prosper. For 2016, we have started organising study trips for companies interested in doing business in Poland. The first one is scheduled for April 2016 and any companies which are interested can find more details on our website. The NPCC can look back on a good start to 2016. Our New Year receptions in Warsaw, Poznań and Łódź were well attended and the Legal Morning with Ecovis Milczarek & Partners shared the latest amendments to employment contracts and the labour code on which the current government is working. I am pleased to welcome Mr Tomasz Lisewski, CEO for Royal Philips in Central Eastern Europe, onto our board. We are delighted to have a representative of our founding member on our team. The coming months are packed with activities but please mark already Saturday, September 10, in your diaries for our annual flagship charity event “de Rijsttafel” in the Intercontinental Hotel. We are committed to making the event bigger and better than last year and rest assured that we aim to raise even more money for our charity - the “Akogo?” foundation. As usual, it will be a wonderful evening and a great opportunity to entertain yourself and your business partners. All these activities will be published in our quarterly magazine Bulletin, on our Facebook page and on our website. We are currently working on a complete restyling of our site that will make it easier for you to remain up-to-date on all the chamber’s activities. In this edition of the Bulletin, you can read an interview with ING economist Rafal Benecki, a look-back at our New Year events and an account of the visit of Mr. Klaas Knot, president of the Dutch National Bank. Despite the current turbulent times, we are grateful to serve so many members’ interests and we are committed to delivering another successful year together. On that note, we look forward to welcoming you at one of our upcoming events. Happy reading! Robert-Jan Treebus Chairman, Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

OUR PLATINUM SPONSORS


Chamber

agenda

Activities of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce 1 March 2016 Business Drink with Italian Chamber

26 April 2016 King’s Day Location: Poznań

10 May 2016 Business Drink Time: 18:30-21:00 Location: to be confirmed Warsaw

Time: 18:30-21:00 Location: Hotel InterContinental Emilii Plater 49 Warsaw

10 March 2016

Businesswomen Meeting

Time: 15:30-18:30 Location: Sound Garden Hotel Żwirki i Wigury 18 Warsaw

12 March 2016 Night of the Proms

Location: Łódź More information on our website

16 March 2016 Skating event

Location: Warsaw Stegny skate stadium More information on our website

5 April 2016 Business and Investment Climate Survey 2016 presentation of results

12 May 2016 Speed Business Mixer Location: Gdańsk More information on our website

May 2016 Transport Seminar Location: Poznań More information on our website

4 June 2016 Automotive Picnic Location: Warsaw More information on our website

7 June 2016 Business Drink Time: 18:30-21:00 Location: Hotel InterContinental Emilii Plater 49 Warsaw

Location: Warsaw More information on our website

5 April 2016 Business Drink Time: 18:30-21:00 Location: Hotel InterContinental Emilii Plater 49 Warsaw

19-21 April 2016 WorldFood Fair

Location: Warsaw More information on our website

14 June 2016

Speed mixer with DWK Location: Poznań More information on our website

17 June 2016 End of Season BBQ Location: Poznań More information on our website

Go to our NPCC website: www.nlchamber.com.pl for the latest information on our events issue 54

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Minister Kamp talks to the Managing Directors of Philips, Grupa Żywiec, PKP and Energy Match

NPCC meets

Minister Henk Kamp During the February business drink of the mixer at the premises of the Embassy. More NPCC, Mr Henk Kamp, Minister of Economic than 80 guests were present at the event. Affairs from the Netherlands, was present to It is the second time that Minister Kamp attends a business drink give a speech and talk to the Dutch business during his visit to Poland. Minister Kamp wanted to attend as it community in Poland. On that occasion, the would give him an excellent opportunity to inform the Chamber on reason of his visit (the EU Presidency) and to hear what Dutch Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy invited the entrepreneurs and companies thought of the functioning of the the Chamber to have the monthly business internal EU market.

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During his speech, Minister Kamp discussed the cooperation between Poland and other European countries and the positive effects that both Poland and the other 27 members had received from EU membership. Mr. Kamp only briefly touched on the subject of the business climate in Poland and some of the worries that many companies currently have. “I judged that this was because he didn’t want to show any prejudice on the topic and also he

The Minister talked to Dutch and Polish entrereneurs and businesspeople

effect on the Polish transport sector, he encouraged us to continue doing business in Poland in spite of the temporary turbulences.”

Kamp visited the NPCC businessdrink for the second time as a Minister of Economy

wanted to show that he was open to discuss any opinions on doing business in Poland,” said Marek Ostojak, General Manager of TB Truck & Trailer Serwis, a DAF Trucks Dealer, who was present at the business drink.

Ostojak discussed the influence that politics has on the business in Poland. “We have the situation that even though the performance of your organisation may be excellent and KPIs are being met, it does not necessarily mean that the expected operational results are secured. I am referring here to the transport boycott by the Russian market. Never before have we been so dependent on

After his speech, Minister Kamp mixed with a number of CEOs and entrepreneurs, discussing with them their experiences of doing business in the Polish market. Marek Ostojak had a long talk with the Minister: “He was open and very interested in the concerns that we have in Poland. For instance, when I talked about issues such as the boycotts that are in place with Russia and the negative

Kamp informed himself about the issues with doing business in Poland

decisions made by politicians.” Ostojak also discussed the large investment that TB Trucks is planning to make in Poland. “We are at the forefront of investing millions of EUR in a modern after accident repair centre for trucks, trailers and busses near Warsaw. And, of course, our owner is concerned about the political developments in Poland. He asked me, ‘Marek, if this was your own money, would you invest currently in Poland?’” A toast was made by the Dep. Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic affairs.

Ostojak was born in Poland but raised in the Netherlands, where he also studied, and he was able to give a little background

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Adrian Heymans (left) was pleasantly surprised about how up to date the ministers knowledge was on Poland.

information from a Polish perspective. “Ever since I’ve been back in Poland, I’ve tried to be a ‘Polander’ who connects both countries. I think that Minister Kamp liked that combination of building bridges and achieving results for a Dutch company, especially as my company is selling 25% of all DAF trucks in Poland.” Minister Kamp also discussed with the CEOs issues concerning the project development companies Ghelamco and ECC Real Estate. Adrian Heymans of ECC Real Estate: “I was impressed by the fact that he was very up-to-date about the general situation in

a negative aspect to putting this in the media. Project development companies like ECC or Ghelamco have to deal with investors from abroad. When there is negative publicity, it is more difficult for us to do business.” Minister Kamp also participated in a conversation with the Managing Directors of Philips, Grupa Żywiec, PKP and Energy Match. Sjoerd Veldhuijzen van Zanten of Energy Match said: “Representatives of the larger companies were able to come up with actual examples that genuinely intrigued him and I am sure that this helped him further in his preparations for his meetings the next day.” Kamp also took the opportunity to talk to a few Polish entrepreneurs and shared some thoughts with Staf Beems, who found his meeting with the Minister ‘refreshing’. “Kamp definitely wasn’t there to tell us what he thought about Poland. On the contrary, I would say, he was very open to our opinions.” Beems discussed a little of the history of Poland and how the country had overcome communism. “Poles have quite a history behind them. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t trust you from the beginning. You should also give them some time to adapt, and that is the same approach that you should take with this government,” says Beems.

Marek Ostojak: „He was open and very interested and he encouraged us to continue doing business in Poland.”

Poland.” Heymans advised the minister to discuss the issues that currently affect the business community in bilateral meetings with his Polish counterparts instead of taking it to the press. “There is

The evening took an interesting turn when Minister Kamp gave the floor to the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, who has lived in Poland for half a year. In a few fluent Polish sentences, he made a toast and wished all of the participants a wonderful evening. “That was a splendid idea and it shows again how relaxed this Minister is,” Staf Beems commented. EB

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Chamber

news and events

New Years’ Reception in Łódź On 22nd January, local Chamber members and their partners met at the new Quale restaurant at Villa Schreer, ul. Narutowicza 48, for the annual New Year’s Reception. They were welcomed by Jasja van der Veen and Sławomir Karasiński, the local Chamber representatives in Łódź. After a short opening speech by Jasja van der Veen, short toasts were made by the Vice-President of Łódż, Wojciech Rosicki, ING Bank Śląski S.A., the main sponsor of the reception represented by Filip Trojanowski, Adria Airways, the cosponsor of the reception represented by Mariusz Jachimek, and our host at Villa Schreer, Mr. Jacek Ciepłucha.

The 45 guests then went for a tour around the first floor of the palace, during which our host Mr. Ciepłucha explained the history of the building and its original owners, highlighting some recent renovation issues, interesting details in the ceilings, the wine rooms, lighting installations and his current company offices. He also showed us the oldest insurance policy existing in Polish, dating from 1808, which is kept in his office (his company Quantum is an insurance brokerage house). After the tour we continued the reception with some drinks and snacks in the restaurant located on the ground floor of

Winner Marcel Koppert (left) receives a return flight ticket Łódź - Amsterdam with Adria Airways

the villa. Some of the companies which were represented during the evening included KPG, Fujitsu, Syzan, Fortak & Karasiński, MCKB, Vetipak, Bartolini Air, ING, Adria Airways, Eurostep, Infosys, KS Serwis, Colourama, Konvert, Reinboutt, Dimar Polska and Raben. During the business card raffle, Marcel Koppert was the lucky winner of the main prize - return tickets for 2 people to Amsterdam from Adria Airways.

NPCC board member Jasja van der Veen (left) together with Sławomir Karasiński (second from left) welcomed the guests during the NPCC New Years’ reception in Łódź on 22 January.

New Years’ Reception in Warsaw

Mark Samborski also won a whiskey bottle plus 5 hours of free legal service from Fortak & Karasiński Radcowie Prawni, and 5 other winners were presented with a special calendar and wine bottles from ING.

coming half-year when the Netherlands takes over the EU presidency. Together with Guusje, Robert-Jan toasted in the new year and wished everybody a successful business year.

The New Year’s Reception attracted around 70 guests to the Hotel Bristol in Warsaw. Chairman Robert-Jan Treebus welcomed the guests and summarized the most significant events for the chamber over 2015. He also presented the planned activities for the year to come and gave his views on the economic developments in Poland. Guusje Korthals-Altes, Head of the Economic Department, gave a presentation on what to expect in the

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Chairman Robert-Jan Treebus welcomes the guests and presents the plans for 2016


Chamber

news and events

New Years’ Reception Poznań

Guests were mixing during the New Years’ Reception

On 14 January our representation in the Wielkopolska region made a good start into 2016 with a New Years’ reception held in the City Park Hotel.

Chairman Robert-Jan Treebus gives an outline for the year 2016

Chambers send their remarks on public procurement law Together with other bilateral chambers of commerce, the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce has been participating in a project on Public Procurement Law. The position of the bilateral chambers has been sent to the Minister of Development, Mr Mateusz Morawiecki. The document consists of statements reinforcing comments from the business

The event was organised by Christine Colijn (right) and the Wielkopolska committee

Sinterklaas visits Wrocław

The event was attended by over 70 people, which once more showed that the NPCC is a valuable brand in our Dutch community in Wielkopolska. Participants listened to speeches of Chargé d’affaires of the Nethelands Embassy in Poland, Mr. Adriaan Palm Mr. Adriaan Palm and Chairman Robert-Jan Treebus of the NPCC.

After the official part, the members took the discussions further to the more social part with a piece of good food and a nice drink. Thank you all for participating, we look forward to see you next time.

The visit of Sinterklaas was well received by the Dutch community in Wrocław

environment in relation to the proposed amendments to the public procurement law.

The Sinterklaas meeting organised in Wrocław by several of our members had an excellent turnout. This event, held in Match Point in Wrocław, is always highly appreciated by the Dutch community since it is so strongly connected to Dutch culture.

We would like to offer our special thanks to our colleagues from the GermanPolish Chamber of Commerce (AHK) for coordinating the process and to our member Arcadis for supporting us in the preparation of the project.

Thirty-four participants came to the meeting and all 18 children who visited Sinterklaas received presents. Special thanks go out to Staf Beems, Guido Vreuls, Pieter Sijpkens and Joanna Kwanioska for organising the event.

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BOOK LE A TAB R OU FOR Y TS! CLIEN

Join our

Charity Rijsttafel 2016 Excellent entertainment, Indonesian food and Dutch snacks

Networking

Charity raffle with great prizes

Join our Charity Rijsttafel event on 10 September. • Enjoy networking with 350 guests. Book seats for your clients and friends; • Watch several great performances and dance to your heart’s content; • Excellent Indonesian food prepared by the kitchen of the InterContinental Hotel • Win tickets provided by Air France KLM to an exotic destination and much more. Other Quality gifts such as a visit to a spa or a weekend in a luxurous car are very welcome.

Where: InterContinental Hotel Warsaw When: September 10, 2016 18.00-02.30 Dress code: Black Tie Preferred rijsttafel2016@nlchamber.com.pl

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NPCC STUDY TRIP POLAND

4-5 APRIL 2016 Take part in our study trip for companies from the Netherlands. Join our field trip to Warsaw on 4th and 5th April 2016. This year the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce is organising two study trips to Warsaw for Dutch entrepreneurs and businesses who want to explore their opportunities in the Polish market. The first study trip will take place on 4th and 5th April 2016. It is expected that the economy in Poland will grow by 3.7% this year. And with its large internal market, low unemployment rate and being a springboard for further exports to the East, Poland is looking in particular for foreign companies that will strengthen the knowledgebased economy. Subscribe quickly and take advantage of the early bird discount! Fact-finding mission The fact-finding mission is not only meant for new exporters who need a comprehensive introduction to the Polish market to learn how they can be well-prepared before entering the market, but it is also for those companies wishing to expand their existing business activities and who want to look at the feasibility of such a project. Programme During the two-day study trip, you will get first-hand information from Dutch and Polish speakers who will explain the cultural differences, the important legal aspects, ways of finding business partners

Meetings with Polish entrepreneurs and the forms of establishing a company as well as giving tips on approaching the market. There is a networking meeting planned in the evening with around 40 Dutch entrepreneurs who are already successful in the Polish market. During a session at the Ministry of Regional Development / Economic Issues, you will be fully updated on the needs in the knowledge-intensive companies sector. After these sessions, you will have knowledge about the ‘do’s and don’ts’ in Poland, and you will have extensive capabilities to test the feasibility of your plans as well as having a good overview of the needs of the Polish market. Unfortunately, no more than 15 companies can participate in the trip. Do not hesitate and sign up now. You won’t need to worry about the costs. Cost The organisational cost of the mission is €1500. This includes air travel, meals, accommodation and transportation within Poland. Companies that are active for the first time in a foreign market (starters) can apply for partial reimbursement of these costs in the form of a voucher worth up to €1500, which is available through RVO. Important information:

Visit to companies in Poland

Mission Dates: 4 and 5 April Deadline for registration: March 7 Download the registration form: NPCC website - nlchamber.com.pl

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NPCC shares concerns with

Polish government in open letter In January the NPCC has send letters to the Polish Minister of Development (Economy), Finance and to the Prime Minister. By doing so we wanted to express our concerns with regard to recent developments in Poland and the impact they might have on the investment climate in the country.

In the letter, which you can download from our webpage nlchamber. com.pl, we describe the change in perception of Poland as a stable predictable and credible economic partner, based on many calls we received from concerned investors. Netherland and Poland have a long and stable trade tradition and we will do our best to keep that good relation. Many members approached the NPCC for support We always had a keen eye on activities of the government and that didn’t change during the elections in October. On the morning after the elections we have held an election breakfast. The message of the two speakers was: Don’t judge the book by its cover, let’s wait and see what kind of proposals they will come up with and what changes in the budget they will make. At the end of 2015,

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Publish

ed

2 legraaf in De Te

ry Februa

2016

when we presided over the IGCC, the international group of chambers’ of commerce of which we are a member, we have tried to set up a meeting for our members with president Duda. We have send two letters and contacted his office, however unfortunately without any results. During the months after the election, in our office and via our board members we received more and more questions about the course of the current government.


Published of the Tele on the website graaf on 7 February

A combination of events changed the positive perception of Poland

Published on the website of Dutch national broadcaster NOS on 2 February

P ub

Dutc lished in

h emplo

The final trigger to write a letter to the government was the recent downgrade by S&P of the credit rating of Poland, which has a direct impact for Dutch entrepreneurs in Poland. Other important factors are the speed at which legislation is introduced, which leaves not much room for stakeholders or opposition to make remarks to the laws. Also the sector specific taxes for insurance, banking and retail sector that are currently proposed or already implemented gives advantage to a specific group of local retailers in Poland. In addition we were surprised by statements of the government. On 15 December Prime Minister Beata Szydło said that the ‘Golden era’ for foreign companies ‘has just ended’. All those four factors have been clearly stated in the letter that has been send on 28 January. At the same time the IGCC has send out invitations for meetings with the Ministry of Regional Development and Finance. Nevertheless the current outlook for the Polish economy remains bright Although we have some concerns we want to stress that we see and keep seeing Poland as an interesting country to invest in. The fundamentals in Poland are strong: A solid growing GDP, a large population that covers for an internal consumer market with

yersm

Forum agazine

ruary 18 Feb

strong domestic demand, high educated labour force and good infrastructure outlays, and so on. Therefore with our letter it is our aim to signal a problem in a very early stage in order to start a dialogue and create mutual understanding. Broad coverage of NPCC letter in Dutch media In order to draw attention to our actions, we have reached out to our media contacts in the Netherlands. Daily newspaper De Telegraaf has published two articles, the letter has been mentioned in the most popular current affairs program on Dutch Radio, NOS Radio-1Journaal and have been mentioned by employer’s magazine Forum of VNO-NCW. All of those publications can be found on our website as well. As a result of our actions we have been invited for a meeting with Minister Morawiecki. NPCC will continue the dialogue with the government First of all we have received a confirmation from the Ministry of regional and economic affairs that they are willing to set up a meeting based on the letter they have received. On top of that also the IGCC has received confirmations for meetings with the Ministry of Finance and Regional affairs. At the time of printing the meetings didn’t take place and therefore it is still too early to say anything about the results. EB

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Column Staf Beems Entrepreneur and owner of Silesia Consulting

Do you know where we’re going to? Business contacts, friends and family have been asking me recently about my opinion of the new Polish government. Let’s first do some number crunching. What worries me is that out of 30,564,609 registered Polish voters, only 15,563,499 actually voted, which is 50.92%. The party which formed the present government (PiS) received 5,711,687 votes. As you can see, the Polish population was not really that interested in the elections, caused by a general disinterest in politics, a phenomenon which we can see everywhere and also in Europe. If politicians are not able to attract more „customers”, then something is fundamentally wrong. A business which cannot attract more than 50% of its potential customers should consider what is wrong with its marketing. The first decision should be: reduce costs and consequently your staff (members of parliament). Why does 100% of the parliament have to represent only 50.92% of the registered voters? The next question concerns the PiS majority in the Polish Sejm. In my humble opinion, it is all relative. How many countries have, or have had, a government with a oneparty majority. Too many to mention: the USA, France, the UK and Russia, to name but a few. Sometimes there are countries and their people who need a „leader” and do not like a democracy. Everybody gets what they deserve. Barak Obama started with „Yes, we can!” but the conclusion after 8 years is „No, I cannot”. Similarly, Angela Merkel recently told us “Wir schaffen das” but I would bet that again after 8 years the conclusion will be „Wir schaffen das nicht”. The comparison between politics and business does not entirely hold water, admittedly, although some self-reflection for politicians

would be very healthy. Poland is sceptical about Europe and its leaders, which is not that strange for anyone that knows its history and how the country was created by the European leaders after World War II. Politicians don’t have to defend their profit and loss every month and they don’t have to fight for their customers. In other words, their product is only „words”. What an easy job. Having said that, I am surprised by the reactions to the new government from outside Poland. “Brussels” is the first, of course, but who, or what, actually is Brussels? Do we feel represented by the European Union, the European Commission or the European Parliament? Do they speak the same language, speak with one voice and have a unified strategy, if any? I don’t think so. Good examples are the recent discussions on Greece, the Middle East, Africa, Turkey, ISIS, terrorism, refugees, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and so on and so forth. Fortunately, the European Parliament has made a decision about vacuum cleaners. Should we be happy with Juncker, the ex-finance minister of Luxembourg who was responsible for the biggest black money banking system in Europe? Do we have to be happy with Tusk in Brussels? In my humble opinion, he was ultimately responsible for what happened in Poland with the election result. Or, closer to our own country, what about Timmermans? He speaks so many languages, but does he speak the right words? Brussels, with all its institutions, is great for civil servants, but not for us - Europeans. Should we be happy with Brussels making a deal with Turkey for 3 billion Euros? Let the Polish problem - if it is a problem - be a Polish problem and let the Dutch problem be a Dutch problem. Please, Brussels, solve your own problems such as the economy, the parties of le Pen and Wilders and the issues with safe borders. Hands off Poland. Start to be the „Secretariat” of Europe - nothing more, nothing less and develop a strategy and do not just react, but act. Do something for us and not for yourself. I’d like to finish by reflecting on the title of the beautiful song by Diana Ross called “Do you know where you‘re going to?” My answer is no. I know only that Brussels and the new Polish government don’t know either - and that worries me. But there is hope. One of the best ambassadors under whom I served once said to me: “Staf, do not worry. Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves.” Not literally, of course...

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Rafał Benecki Chief Economist at ING Bank Śląski

Outlook

for 2016 is positive Bulletin talked to Rafał Benecki, Chief Economist at ING Bank Śląski, for his take on the performance of the Polish economy.

sense that Polish export companies used to spend relatively large amounts on investments in Poland. Given the worse sentiment externally, they will export less at the beginning of the year. On the other hand expected acceleration of consumption calls for rising companies’ capacity.”

What is the expected GDP growth for Q4 of 2015?

Are there any other factors that we have to consider when we look at 2016?

Rafał Benecki: “The GDP grew in the last quarter of 2015 by 3.9%, which is a very strong figure given 3.5% in the third quarter. We presume this end of the year acceleration was driven by one major factor - public expenditure from EU funds, for example in the railway sector. On top of that, public consumption was much stronger than expected. But other components of the domestic demand proved to be quite resilient. Consumption grew by 3.1%, which is in line with the third quarter. In our opinion, the outlook for the coming year is quite positive, but the drivers will probably be different to those at the end of 2015. We believe consumption will be rising robustly in 2016 as it will be supported by the child benefit programme introduced by the new government. This could potentially speed up GDP dynamics by 0.5-0.7%. The private investment should also grow and altogether private demand should offset the slowdown of public investments and exports which are expected to suffer due to worse sentiment externally within the main trading partners in the Eurozone. Polish economy still serves as the growth leader in the region with really low inflation.” Can you focus a bit more on the expected public investments in the coming year? “I believe that public investment may slow down further in 2016 after a short pick-up in the fourth quarter. There is normally some kind of gap between the previous and the new budget of EU money. We are now experiencing this gap in both public investments and public spending and while private investment should be quite strong, it will probably not be strong enough to offset this loss.” Is this gap the only cause of this slower growth, or are there any other causes? “I think the external environment is not that supportive. We see slightly more pessimistic investment plans at the end of 2015, which is a negative sign for 2016. This reflects the pessimistic expectations of exporters, who were among the most expansive investors in the

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“Some people are of the opinion that the banking tax may, to some extent, slow the dynamics of credit but we think more binding are new capital requirements, but we don’t think that this factor may significantly influence GDP growth.” What about the proposed tax on retail? How would it affect GDP? “We are not expecting a significant impact here either. But it may cause price rises of 0.2% so this is a very limited impact. If you also take into account that oil prices are really low, this is helping to keep inflation low.” Can you tell us more about exports and imports? “In terms of exports, we are quite worried that the weak growth in the emerging market economies may negatively affect Poland’s main trading partners such as Germany, and also the UK, Italy and the Netherlands. Especially those countries with a large share of exports may be affected by poor growth in the emerging markets. We can also observe signs that the US business cycle is in a very mature phase, which results in less robust growth than previously expected. Both elements will be a constraining factor for Polish exports. On the other hand, we have a very weak zloty, which is a factor working in the opposite direction. This is why we expect the net exports to be neutral for Polish growth, not negative. In terms of imports, if we see an increase in consumption, this will probably affect imports as well. The balance between the two will be at best neutral while in 2015 this was slightly positive.” Talking about the weak zloty, it is currently supporting exports but is it also worrying for you in the longer term? “The most critical element in terms of financial stability is mortgages in Swiss Francs, so with the weaker zloty the cost of servicing FX mortgages is rising, but still the situation is much better than in Hungary. The low level of non-performing FX mortgages shows this is not a social problem as it was in Hungary.


We should remember that the situation in the labour market is quite sound and the interest rates in Switzerland are low and these both factors contribute to better credit capacity of those who are holding FX mortgages. On top of that, there is also some corporate debt in the FX currencies, but it is very limited. The rating agencies are often pointing out that the Polish economy has a very high total foreign debt. Given this foreign debt and the weak currency, we can see a potential risk. But, in recent years, the rating agencies have fully recognised what the Polish central bank has been saying, which is that more than 50% of the foreign debt is cross-company loans. In this case, the risk of this debt is very limited. If a mother company doesn’t let its daughter company roll over its debt funding, this will definitely undermine its own assets. That is why the risk of such a scenario is low. This situation is completely different from other emerging economies, where foreign debt is also high, but where the structure of those debts is predominantly based on credits. Such a debt is much more sensitive to roll-over risk.” What is your outlook on the exchange rate? “The currency is strongly driven by political factors, but also by the proposal to exchange Swiss loans. The proposal presented recently by the Polish president, previously pledged in the election campaign, seems to have an element of political play. The president was, to some extent, obliged to present a project, but what we hear from the technocrats is that the project is not sustainable – the whole action should be postponed or significantly watered down. In the last few days, we have heard a comment from the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for economic policy, who said that this project is too costly and that there are other remedies less painful to the banking sector. Even more importantly, the Minister of Finance said that a 20-30 billion zloty cost is not sustainable for the banking sector. I also expect that the banking sector regulator will say the same. Given this, we expect that this project will not be implemented. Given that the currency has some space to recover, but also requires more benign situation on the external equity and FX markets which are recently very volatile.” What is your opinion about S&P’s decision to downgrade Poland’s credit rating from A- to BBB+? Do you agree with their opinion? “I think rating agencies are sending quite a good warning signal to the government, to be cautious with all these political changes

which are too far-reaching. Other agencies have also changed their approach and the new one is more critical as well. This warning should work and we can see early signs of rationalisation within the government. The first reaction to the rating change was rather strange, but now Deputy Prime Minister Morawiecki says that the warning they got from the rating agencies was an important signal and the government will try to be more cautious to avoid any more downgrades. In my opinion, Moody’s may still downgrade Poland a downgrade from A2 to A1 will still keep Poland one notch higher than at S&P. The message was received and that should to some extent rationalise politics, especially in terms of economic policy, while in the purely political zone we will face further institutional changes. I think the sectoral taxes will be imposed anyway, but the generous spending promises given during the election campaign, if implemented in 2017, will pose a serious threat to fiscal stability. Given all the warnings from the rating agencies, we expect the spending proposals to be contained. As I said, on the political side we can expect further controversial changes, because we are currently observing a kind of split between the politics and economic policy of the governing party. They are trying to be quite prudent in the economic area, but they may be a little bit more controversial in other areas of political life.” Can you say more about the economic proposals in the budget for 2016? “In my opinion, the budget is fairly well prepared, with limited risk of an uncontrolled increase in the deficit. The problem is that there are some one-offs which are being used as revenues. In this case, a big challenge for the 2017 budget is spending that won’t be covered by new revenues. These warnings from the rating agencies should help to make the spending side of the budget more sustainable. For example, the increase in the tax-free amount for personal income tax should be split into several steps, while the idea to lower the retirement age should rather be abandoned. The government economic development plans require a sound banking sector and funding from EU, thus Polish government should pursue a responsible macroeconomic policy.” EB

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The EU presidency will put the Netherlands

on the map in Poland Adriaan Palm is Chargé d’affaires ad interim at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from January until August 2016, when the new Ambassador will start working in Poland. What are the objectives and plans you hope to achieve in the coming months of your position here in Poland? “Basically, what I want to do is build on what has already been set up and achieved over the last couple of years here at the Embassy. I was Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy and my colleagues and I work as one team on the basis of a multi-annual strategy. We have jointly agreed on a number of priorities and priority sectors. First of all, we support SMEs with their access to the Polish market. That is where the NPCC also plays an important role as partner with its many members among Dutch companies in Poland. Secondly, we focus on four priority sectors. The first one is the entire water sector, in which we have developed a lot of activities in various parts of Poland, also jointly with individual Dutch companies: with our water road shows and “partners in business” programme, we have been able to penetrate the Polish market. We have the energy sector, transport and logistics sector and last but not least we have

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the agro food sector. These are four important sectors where we see opportunities to strengthen our presence as the Netherlands here in Poland and where we focus our activities on. Furthermore, the way we work together in the Netherlands is worth underlining. Combining the expertise and capabilities of government, knowledge institutions and the business sector enables us to be more effective and more creative in coming up with solutions for the challenges that we are facing nowadays. And this principle we are also using in Poland. A good example is the Cities in Transition project - an event held in Poznań in November last year. I think it is also interesting to see that in Poland there are more and more public-private partnerships being established. That is something where Poland has a future as well. Finally, the Embassy works as a networking organisation, which means that we bring people together - the government, knowledge institutions and the business sector. We thus try to help the Dutch business community in increasing their business possibilities. This all helps to contribute to our common Polish and Dutch well-being.” Could you please tell us a bit more about your previous experience as a diplomat? “I came to Poland from Moscow, where I was Head of the Political Section. But politics and economics in Russia are very often closely


linked together. I had many contacts there with people from the economic section. We addressed the main economic challenges and in that way we acted as problem-solvers for the business community. Prior to my posting in Moscow, I used to work as Head of the East Asian Division, working together for a better business future in for example China, Japan and South-Korea. We focused both on trade to those countries and on attracting investments from those countries to the Netherlands helping economic growth.” Do other Embassies have a similar focus on supporting Dutch business or is this a unique approach of the Embassy in Warsaw? ‘’All Embassies play a role in increasing the access of Dutch businesses to the local markets. It is one of our core activities. But of course it is country specific. Increasing access to the Russian market with a large role of the government is very different from activities you have to organize in the US, and there are big differences with for example increasing trade with developing countries and with the Chinese market. However, in all countries as Embassy we try to focus on the needs of the business society, the business community and the local circumstances to provide the best services we can.’’ In the current six months, the Netherlands holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Can you tell me what we in Poland will notice from this role? “We see opportunities in two ways. First of all, the presidency of the EU will put the Netherlands and what the Netherlands has to offer further on the map here in Poland. Secondly, we want to work jointly with Poland on our European agenda. When it comes to the internal market, the digitized market and the goods and services market, there is still a lot of regulation and overregulation that needs to be addressed. We want to avoid any unnecessary burden for the business community and we need to offer better regulations. This part of the agenda was also discussed when Minister Kamp was in Poland in the beginning of February. He told various ministers that we would like to cooperate in order to bring the completion of the European internal market closer, in the interest of everyone: the business community and the citizens of Poland and the Netherlands. At the same time, that visit gave us the opportunity to address the concerns of the Dutch business community in Poland with regard to the trade and investment climate in Poland, as was mentioned in the Chamber’s letter. I think that is also a way how we can combine both bilateral and EU agendas effectively. One of the priorities for us as Presidency and for Poland is innovation. We have a lot to offer and it is an important subject on the agenda. It is also of great interest to the Polish government and the Polish business community. In this respect, we try to see where we can work together and how we can use such visits to stimulate bilateral cooperation. This is also linked to the role of the Embassy, which is to bring business interests forward. When we discussed all the concerns of the business community with the Minister of Development, Mr. Morawiecki, he said, “I am willing to enter into a dialogue”. It is our role as an Embassy to help make sure that this

dialogue takes the right form, bringing the Polish government and Dutch business community together. In addition, coming back to the subject of the Netherlands’ EU presidency, we have a number of flagship events which will refer to the presence of the Netherlands and the Dutch business community in Poland. I want to name two. We are going to have a TEDx event focused on innovation at the end of March/beginning of April. During the King’s Day celebrations on 28th April in Warsaw, the Dutch garden in Łazienki Park will be opened. These are the kind of events that will give us, the Netherlands, an extra chance to put ourselves on the map with Polish decision-makers and the Polish community as a whole. Hopefully, at the end of the presidency, we can state that not only have we made progress on the European agenda, but also on the bilateral agenda between the Netherlands and Poland.” What, in your opinion, are the decisive elements for companies and entrepreneurs looking to invest in Poland? “This question should rather be asked to the business community. But, of course, we have a lot of contact with people here - we talk to them and ask them why they came here. Poland has always attracted lots of investors and lots of entrepreneurs. The main reasons mentioned are a stable environment, high economic growth, a large internal market, a steadily increasing disposable income and, in general, well-educated staff available at competitive salaries. In addition, Poland is regarded the most attractive country for foreign investment in Central and Eastern Europe. For example, from its location perspective, Poland can be a hub from the Netherlands through Belarus to Russia. Finally, Poland wants to change itself from a manufacturing to a knowledge economy. Knowledge transfer is something where the Netherlands has a lot to offer. Maybe with the new government, some companies may want to wait and see how the situation will develop. But in general, these are the reasons for people to invest in Poland and why they want to do business here.” Can you see any changes or shifts on the Polish market in recent times that have influenced the economy and the business sector? “I think it is difficult to predict how the Polish economy will develop in the next few years. There is a long list of legislation being prepared by the current government. I think it is important that the local and international business community, including the Dutch companies, is consulted before essential pieces of legislation are put to the vote in parliament. This would then create stability and a proper legal and economic framework, which is in everybody’s interests. That is also why we are glad that Deputy Prime Minister Morawiecki has indicated his willingness to engage in dialogue with the Dutch business community and we as an Embassy would like to proceed with that as soon as possible. From my perspective, it will not just be a one-off event, but I hope and expect that it will be a continuous dialogue.’’ KBS

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Column Paweł P. Mlicki Ph. D. Deputy Director Dehora Consultancy Group

The dark side of economic migration When I moved with my family to the Netherlands in 1989, we were undoubtedly objects of curiosity for our new neighbours and colleagues at work. The iron curtain had just fallen and relatively few Poles lived in Holland at that time. Those who did were mostly soldiers, and their descendants, who had participated in the liberation of the country and decided to settle there when the Yalta Conference finally set the seal on Poland falling under the Soviet Union’s political and military sphere of influence. Fifteen years later, in 2004, when Poland became a member of the EU, the number of officially registered Poles in the Netherlands amounted to 21 000. Over the past few years, this number has risen by more than 400% and last year surpassed the 100 000 mark, according to data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). And that figure refers only to those who are registered. The real number, according to most estimates, is 3 to 4 times higher. The majority of the newcomers are economic migrants. Among them are many poorly-educated people who speak no foreign languages and frequently come from areas in Poland affected by high unemployment and other social problems, including learned helplessness. Typically, they come alone and plan to stay in the Netherlands only temporarily in order to earn enough to change the financial situation of their family. Often, however, the harsh reality, especially in a country still recovering from a deep economic crisis, as the Netherlands is, presents Polish workers with unexpected issues. It can happen that their workers’ rights are not fully respected and they don’t know where or how to complain in order to claim these rights. Moreover, they are usually not members of trade unions. Some of them perform undeclared work. Even if they work legally, they frequently

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do not know the conditions of their contract as it is written in Dutch. They usually work through a temporary job agency, which means that they have few rights in the event of being made redundant. Sometimes it is hard to get any kind of job, especially for those who are not flexible concerning the sort of work they can do. As a result, work-related stress increases and they feel frustrated by the fact that they are failing and not able to meet the expectations of their family back in Poland concerning the quick improvement of their financial situation. Social isolation and loneliness often hit migrants, especially those who do not speak any foreign languages and therefore cannot communicate or build relationships with their Dutch colleagues and neighbours or other foreign workers. If we add to this picture the well-known fact that Poles have little trust in one another and show little national solidarity when encountering difficulties abroad, then their mental stability and health can be at risk. And the longer they stay abroad, the bigger the chances are that their family will break up and there will be no good reason to go back: with no money and no loved ones waiting for them. All these factors cause many Polish economic migrants to require psychological support. The most common problems are depression, several sorts of anxiety disorders, alcohol and soft drugs abuse, and gambling. In order to assist with this situation, and reduce the problems resulting from the language barrier, the mental health organisation „GGZ Keizersgracht” was founded in 2009. It is a collaboration of psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists, most of them Polish, who offer professional, individually-targeted assistance to adults and children. The 25 devoted employees of GGZ Keizersgracht can only help people who are insured, however. Those who cannot afford the treatment are thus left to fend for themselves and this poses a real challenge to the Dutch and Polish authorities. Postscript My collaboration with the NPCC Bulletin started in February 2010 and over the past 6 years I have written some 24 columns, an activity which I have enjoyed immensely. All good things must come to an end, however, and in agreement with the editorial board of the Bulletin, I have decided that it is now time to make room for someone else. I’d like to thank you all for the interest shown in my column over the past 6 years and I wish you all great success in your business activities in the future.


Column Huub Droogh Huub Droogh is an urbanist and president of RDH Architekci Urbaniści in Poznań

Saturday afternoon in Poznań… Urbanist and president of RDH Architekci Urbaniści in Poznań Poland is protesting again. A democratically-chosen national parliament is putting an axe to the roots of the constitution. Prosecutors are to be placed under the direct authority of the Minister of Justice, and public media is under state supervision. The separation between Church and State - already not Poland’s strongest achievement - moves even further apart. The media compares recent developments with the situation in the powerful neighbour to the east, or sees a similarity with pre-war politics over the border in the west. The Saturday afternoon meeting at Plac Wolności in Poznań has more of the character of a friendly school reunion than a serious demonstration. The well-dressed audience behaves in a civilized way. The less inspiring speakers can count on modest and polite applause; the more gifted ones on generous and unprompted laughter. The protesters are carrying European flags. Banners are asking for intervention from Brussels, the United States and even NATO. During the last national elections, less than 51% of potential Polish voters participated. The last European elections had a turnout of less than 24%. During the last Christmas holiday, I read Svetlana Alexijevitsj’s book ‘Het einde van de rode mens’. The Nobel prize-winner paints an incisive portrait of the Russian middle class after the collapse of the Soviet system. Teachers, scientists, researchers: the backbone of society which carried and welcomed the change of system. A few years after the introduction of ‘democracy’, their individual economic and social position was marginalised. Dealers, ‘businessmen’ and politicians took over the spotlight in society. ‘Maybe we didn’t have much during the Soviet years, but neither did my neighbours,’ is one of the quotes from the book. ‘At that time, we were a part of society - we counted,’ is another. Poland isn’t Russia. You can’t compare Poland after 1989 with Moscow after 1991. But the book got me thinking. Over the last decade, the media has presented the political issues of

Warsaw as if they were the issues of Poland. But is it the reality of the primary school teacher in Mieszalki, the police officer in Nowa Ruda, the nurse in Zawiercie or the ZUS employee in Chełm? Granted, step by step over the past few years they have obtained a little bit more material wealth. But their neighbours in Warsaw have a lot more, as their TV sets tell them every day. Healthcare, elderly care and baby care, the educational system, the quality of public administration. For those without additional money to buy their way through, these are the daily sources of trouble and irritation. How to trust the fancily-dressed politicians, putting themselves every evening in the spotlight of debate shows with Warsaw’s impressive skyline in the background? What’s in it for those 8-to-4 workers to prolong the mandate of such representatives for another 4 years? The demonstrators at Plac Wolności will not do a U-turn on the current attack on the basic principles of decent governance. They are not steelworkers, miners or farmers. They don’t spread the fear of violence, or the threat of strikes which will harm the daily functioning of society. They are not the lead-in to a civil war. This small part of the intellectual middle class, who make the effort to show their disapproval between their late breakfasts and Saturday afternoon shopping, only underline the government’s statement: it’s still a free country and it’s still safe to voice your protests. Then who will turn around the current movement? The combined political opposition of Petru and Schetyna, supported by the coordinated activities of the intellectual middle class? ’Two Poles - three opinions’, as the proverb says. I have been travelling all over the country for years. As a consequence of my daily work, I meet many local politicians, NGOs, civil servants, directors of public institutions and owners of SMEs. Over the years, I have visited hundreds of town halls, schools, universities, prisons, homes for the elderly, cultural institutions, homeless shelters and parishes. Many of the people I spoke to appeared to be engaged and well-informed citizens, working to improve the conditions of their local communities which they feel responsible for and earning very modest salaries at the same time. They are PiS voters - due to their religion, their disapproval of the immoral behaviour of greedy ‘businessmen’ and their aversion to ‘Warsaw politics’. Not all PiS voters are religious fanatical supporters of an unworldly power-hungry leader. A lot of them are very aware that Europe brought Poland more than just money. It also brought freedom of speech, the start of an independent justice system, free travelling and connections with international networks of trade, research and innovation. Decent people, ashamed of the weak intellectual level of the new Polish leadership, are afraid of what international repercussions will come. Ironically, it should be, and will be, they who will lead the opposition against what’s going on. Let’s give them the time which they, and this young democracy, deserve.

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Coen Meijer: It is the combination

of differences

that gives an opportunity Can you tell us something about the history of your company both in Poland and in the Netherlands? Coen Meijer, Area Director Nordic, Central and Eastern Europe: “Zeelandia in Poland is part of the Royal Zeelandia Group of companies. We develop, produce and market bakery ingredients all over the world. We started off in 1900 when a miller’s son experimented a little with some versions of bakery products in those days. We are now active in over 100 countries worldwide and we have fully-fledged production and sales operations in over 25 countries. The annual turnover of the Group is around half a billion Euro. We are financially in a good shape. Every day we try to improve our innovation culture in the company. The first legal invoice issued by Zeelandia Poland dates back to 1993. It has been an upward journey ever since. We are a typical businessto-business company. Our clients are both large and small-scale bakers, who either have their own network of shops or sell onwards to retail. Zeelandia Poland is a solidly-growing food company. We are amongst the market leaders in our segment and feel at home in the industrial landscape in Poland.” Zeelandia has been present on the Polish market for over 20 years. Has it been an uphill battle or a smooth ride? “In the first place, I don’t think that smooth rides in business exist. I would almost argue that every day is survival of the fittest. This was the case in 1993 and is still true now. The year 1993 was right after the fall of communism in Poland, which created an economic boom. Basically anyone with a good business idea would be successful in that period. It was the era when we started our activities. We took our initial ideas straight from the Netherlands and tailored them to Poland. It was a struggle to find out what would work in Poland. It was all about discovering new ground and that wasn’t an easy process.” Did it help your business that Poland joined the European Union? “In a word - yes. I believe that Poland belongs to the heartland of Europe. Poland is a member of the European house of values; much more than just an export country or a source of cheap labour. Populism is visible everywhere. For example, in Warsaw the extreme right is protesting against immigrants, but this is also happening in Italy, in the Netherlands and in Germany. In that respect, Poland has proved that it is part of Europe, for better or for worse.

We think that no company can survive on its own. We, Zeelandia Poland, belong to the Royal Zeelandia Group of companies and we need our sister companies’ know-how and best practices in order to survive. Many of our early local competitors were on their own at the time. We had 25 competitors in those days, now we have 5 and that tells the story. In the early days, after the economic turnaround, managing innovation and doing business couldn’t work properly with closed borders and that is still very much the case today. The Polish market is not easy, and being an entrepreneur is a difficult profession, but it seems that we, the Zeelandia people, know what we are doing. It cannot be difficult enough for us. The more difficult it is for us, the more difficult it is for the competition. But I know one thing, we will survive.” What advice can you give to new Dutch entrepreneurs and companies that currently want to enter the Polish market? “I believe that by default the foreign Polish market is different from the domestic Dutch market. Therefore, one should prepare for a different approach. Copycat ideas from the Netherlands are no guarantee of success in Poland, or anywhere else. Many entrepreneurs have made this mistake and failed. If you asked me whether Zeelandia Poland is a Dutch company or a Polish company, my answer would be “I don’t know”. It’s very much a bit of both. With seed capital from the Netherlands and the talent from Poland, we have made a fantastic business together. The trick is to tailor your products and services to the requirements of the local market. My second tip is don’t be stingy. Get yourself well-informed before you start and don’t take shortcuts. A solid business needs to be wellgoverned and that requires solid business plans, good auditors and good lawyers, etc.’’ What is your opinion about the culture difference between Poland and the Netherlands? “I am very reserved on that topic. Obviously, I can observe culture differences but the question is what the benchmark is and how to compare them. What is the global benchmark of culture? I think the question should rather be what the combination of cultures is and what that gives you. A practical example from my own perspective: food. Let’s take Polish bread, which is different from German bread. I do not think that there is any sense in trying to prove which bread is tastier. The end-consumer

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decides. It’s survival of the fittest those who can adapt best to the local taste patterns are the winners of tomorrow. Thanks to culture differences, good entrepreneurs stand a chance. If we had one global common denominator, half the entrepreneurs would be out of business. Therefore, we should not focus too much on culture differences - Coen Meijer: “It is the combination of differences that gives an opportunity”.” Recently, a new retail tax was introduced. The current government is working on a tax on large retailers. How is this going to influence your industry and your company? ‘’I think it is too early to tell how it will influence our company and our clients. All that is said at the moment is pure speculation. Though it is doubtful that the proposed taxes will have a material long-term negative effect on our type of business. Or rather, on our type of businesses. Other sectors of the economy may have different reflections. However, an economy does not only deal with facts, but also with emotion. The signal that goes out from these banking and retail taxes is one of entrepreneurial unfriendliness. In the broader perspective, the recent developments are not good for Poland‘s reputation in the European Union. To make matters worse, the prospect of a government being active in the media does not connect well to European values. Governments should leave a free press unharmed.” Why did you decide to choose the Wielkopolska region and locate Zeelandia there? What is so interesting about that region of Poland? “In 1992, we were on our way to Warsaw by car from the Netherlands. It was a second-hand car and we could not make it to Warsaw in one day. So that is why we spent the night in Poznań. That is where we decided to stay and that is the strategic background of us being here in Poznań. Just to indicate that entrepreneurs do not always plan their

way ahead. A fair amount of pragmatism is also involved. However, later on it turned out that we were in a great spot. Salary levels in those days were half of those we found in Warsaw. We could not have started this company, because of the labour intensity in those days with the salary levels in Warsaw. This was a good reason to stay in Wielkopolska. Wielkopolska is a vibrant region. It is a great region located in the west of Poland, where a large part of the food economy is based. From a distribution point of view in Europe, it is an excellent place. We feel well-located in relation to Germany. We also benefit from the everimproving connections within Poland. We have a proactive local government and good staff. Would I choose Wielkopolska again if I had to start over? Yes, I probably would. It is a pleasant area to settle in, with an economically well-developed market in Poznań. The wider metropolitan area contains one and a half million people. So for a small start-up company, this is enough to begin with. For a start-up company, it has all the services available, qualified labour and good universities where you can get your students straight from the lecture rooms.” Zeelandia has taken a long time to prepare and develop the recipes of its bakery products. What is your recipe for success on the Polish market? “A good recipe for a business is always to find your own local unique story. Performances of the past elsewhere are no guarantee of success in this country. Entrepreneurs often complain about competition, but I am a fan of the quote, “You are your own worst competitor”. It is also worth underlining the role of the community of entrepreneurs with a Dutch background here in Poland. It is well worth being part of a community which not only includes companies, but also stakeholders such as the Embassy, the Chamber of Commerce and so on. They are doing a good job with activities both in Warsaw and in Poznań.’’ KBS

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New members of

the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

Orańska Orańska (*) is a boutique hotel, owned by a Dutch-Polish couple, in the Polish Sudeten mountains at the foot of Śnieżnik (1425m). For 2016, in addition to short stays, we also offer a brand new RESET programme. The RESET programme is intended for people looking for a time-out in their daily obligations and their normal eating patterns. We offer silence, clean air, wonderful scenery, first-class food, crystal clear water and committed service. The RESET programme is a 7-day-course based on vegetable and fruit juices, nuts and water, draining out toxics, renourishing your body with all the necessary nutrients and providing new energy. To maximize results, we only buy our fruit and vegetables from trusted sources, as much as possible locally (vegetables) from farmers we know. Taste for us is the key because we believe that good (naturally-produced) food should taste good. As we are such a small company, we are able to focus completely on our guests, help them enjoy their stay and forget about their daily troubles. Orańska means ‘of Orange’, referring to the Dutch royals. Why Orańska? It’s because in the 19th century a Dutch princess, Marianne van Oranje-Nassau, lived here and did a lot of good deeds for the local inhabitants. We could only benefit from what history had prepared for us by using the name Orańska for our hotel. Orańska ul. Wojska Polskiego 25a 57-514 Międzygórze Tel. +48 607619265 e-mail: rezerwacja-oranska@wp.pl www.oranska.com

Multi Poland Sp. z o.o. Multi Poland Sp. z o.o. is a leading owner, manager and (re)developer of high quality shopping centres across Europe and Turkey. As a well-capitalised, growth-oriented, pan-European retail platform, Multi is focussed on creating, managing and improving sustainable rental income.In Poland, Multi manages six shopping centres: Magnolia Park in Wrocław, Galeria Twierdza in Kłodzko, Galeria Leszno in Leszno (currently being expanded), Galeria Twierdza in Zamość, Galeria Tęcza in Kalisz and Wzorcownia in Włocławek. In 2015, Multi Poland officially commenced the construction of Forum Gdańsk. The new centre will offer 63,000 m2 of gross leasable area in a perfect location in the inner city of Gdańsk, adjacent to the main railway station, the Old Town and key municipal buildings. Forum Gdańsk has been designed to revitalize the historic areas of the former hay and crayfish markets, and will combine a retail scheme with the creation of quality public space and the modernisation of the road infrastructure. Multi’s Polish office is located in Warsaw and serves as the company’s headquarters for Central and Eastern Europe, supervising projects in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Latvia. Globally, Multi currently owns or manages over 90 shopping centres, which receive more than 400 million visitors per year, spending an estimated 4 billion euros annually in more than 6,000 stores, restaurants and attractions. Multi has over 650 employees across its mall management, asset management, development and support businesses.Multi is active in 13 European countries, including Turkey where it is the largest owner and manager of shopping centres. Multi uses its design group, T+T Design, for all urban development and architectural concepts. Since its foundation in 1982, Multi’s projects, which regularly act as the engine for revitalizing a city or region, have been internationally recognised for their innovative nature, architectural quality, sustainability and profound sensitivity to local environments. Multi Poland Sp. z o.o. ul. Złota 59, 00-120 Warszawa tel. +48 22 2222800 e-mail: office-pl@multi.eu www.multi.eu

Heisterkamp Transport Sp. z o.o. Heisterkamp Transportation Solutions provides a total concept for the transport sector. In addition to Trucking, Heisterkamp is also an excellent partner for Truck Rental & Leasing, Trailer Rental & Leasing, Trailer & Truck Service, Breakdown Service, Used Trucks and Commercial Vehicles. Over the past 30 years, Heisterkamp has experienced remarkable growth. Just one vehicle has grown into a fleet of 700 vehicles and a personnel file of over 1000 employees. The services offered by Heisterkamp have also increased tremendously in recent years. The growth can be measured by the new offices that have been opened since 2015 in Poland, Latvia, Slovakia, Germany and Romania. Heisterkamp Transport Sp. z o.o. ul. Pomorska 144/E 70-812 Szczecin tel. +48 22 5511000 e-mail: szczecin@heisterkamp.eu www.heisterkamp.eu

Rijnboutt Sp. z o.o. Rijnboutt produces designs for, and advises on, the full range of spatial planning projects. We work at every scale level, from interior to public space, from building to urban project. We welcome collaboration and we work with the client, local residents and everyone concerned to achieve the necessary commitment. We are happy to accept responsibility and we are accountable, versatile and flexible. Rijnboutt analyses its assignments at every scale level and works towards the production of integral designs and plan documents. We believe in the role and power of communication that is achieved by engaging in structured design as part of an open process. Clients and other relevant parties are actively involved in the realisation of the final design. Our expertise is based on architecture, urban design, landscape and cultural history. Rijnboutt Sp. z o.o. ul. Librowszczyzna 3 31-030 Kraków tel. +48 730190210 e-mail: info@rijnboutt.pl www.rijnboutt.pl

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New members of

the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

Kemetyl

Tesign Studio

The Kemetyl Group has rapidly become one of the largest companies in its fields in Europe, with 250 employees in 13 countries producing a turnover of some €140 million to 45 countries. Following a number of acquisitions, we have grown to be a truly complete, integrated and pan-European partner within the industry.

WHO WE ARE We are a small design office that puts real passion into each project we undertake. Regardless of the size of the project, big or small, we always focus our full attention on creating the best effect.

Present in 13 European countries, with 4 own production sites and several contractor sites, we have a unique presence. We are where our customers are. And with our staff speaking 24 different languages, we can truly live up to the slogan - „we speak your language”.

Our wide range of services always guarantees extraordinary results. We place great value on ensuring our clients are fully satisfied with our work, and this is evidenced by the many positive references and continued long-term cooperation with many clients. We look forward to working with you.

Our product portfolio contains fluids and hardware, car care and accessories as well as hygiene and household products. Major products range from screenwashes and coolants, to fuels and cleaners; from window wipes to disinfectants; and from bulk chemicals to 50ml bottles and aerosols.

WHAT WE OFFER Tesign Studio offers services in different fields of design. We focus especially on Product Design, Brand Design, Graphic Design, Marketing Design, Aerial Photography and Consulting.

As the biggest supplier of industrial ethanol in Europe, and with filling platforms across Europe, Kemetyl can combine unbeatable economies of scale with „local” production almost anywhere.

WHAT CAN YOU GAIN If you are searching for out-of-the-box ideas that will stand out and give your company a fresh boost, please contact us and we will be delighted to cooperate with you.

Kemetyl Polska Sp. z o.o. Al. Jerozolimskie 146 C 02-305 Warszawa tel. +48 22 8225390 e-mail: orders.poland@kemetyl.com www.kemetyl.com

Tax-Pol Sp. z o.o. Sp. k. Tax-Pol has been a leader in the Polish market for many years, offering income tax refunds and benefits from the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Germany, Austria, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and also VAT refunds from EU countries. As one of the very few companies on the market, we have the experience and knowledge to obtain the highest returns using simple procedures. We have been trusted by thousands of customers and the number of people satisfied with our services is growing constantly. Tax-Pol is a synonym of trust and the highest quality of services, which has been achieved by our highly specialized team over the last 15 years.We are one of the fastest-growing companies in Poland, providing services related to the reimbursement of income tax from abroad and VAT from EU countries. We have been continuously building our brand’s position in the market since 2001. Over the years we have earned the trust of thousands of consumers and traders – both domestic and foreign. The involvement of owners and employees translates into high quality services, which has led us to becoming the industry leader. Tax-Pol Sp. z o.o. Sp. k. ul. Wałbrzyska 6 52-314 Wrocław tel. +48 71 7995000 e-mail: marketing@tax-pol.pl www.tax-pol.pl

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Tesign Studio Dziećmiarki 36 62-270 Kłecko tel. +48 660449449 e-mail: studiotesign@gmail.com www.studiotesign.com

Van Stab Sp. z o.o. Sp. k. Van Stab is the exclusive distributor in Poland of a modern Dutch GeoCrete® technology used in civil and aquatic engineering as well as in environmental protection. GeoCrete® technology has been used worldwide for: • Stabilization of land, including the construction of: – roads – sports facilities – sloping surfaces • Stabilization and sealing of land including landfill terrains • Construction of strip footings including: – pipelines of various types – retaining walls – electricity transmission poles – towers, including wind turbines • Jet grounding stabilization of land • Construction of quays • Construction of airport runways Van Stab Sp. z o.o. Sp. k. Ostrówek 12/19-21 61-121 Poznań tel. +48 61 8671429 e-mail: biuro@vanstab.pl www.vanstab.pl


New members of

the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce

CFE Polska Sp. z o.o. CFE began its activity in Poland as a general contractor in 1996. The first project completed by CFE Polska was the Opel production plant in Gliwice. The first project carried out for General Motors on the Polish market won an award for strict compliance with health and safety standards and accident-free works. In the following years, CFE Polska gained extensive experience in the construction of shopping centres and department stores for leading chains such as Carrefour, E. Leclerc and Platforma. The company completed the majority of those projects as the main contractor under “design and build” contracts. CFE Polska has also had the opportunity to be the general contractor in other sectors of the civil engineering market, e.g. on many projects involving multi-storey office and residential buildings equipped with modern ventilation and air conditioning systems and built with the highest-quality materials. CFE Polska constructs all buildings according to the strictest requirements – both in terms of structure and architecture as well as safety and environmental protection. The company’s projects are regularly awarded in “Site of the Year” (organised by the Polish Association of Civil Engineers and Technicians) or “Safe Site” (organised by National Labour Inspectorate) contests, for such achievements as the high quality of construction works, short realisation times, compliance with safety standards and using environment-friendly materials. CFE Polska Sp. z o.o. ul. 17 stycznia 48 02-146 Warszawa tel.: +48 22 456 16 00 e-mail: cfe@cfe.com.pl www.cfe.com.pl

Hotel Bristol, A Luxury Collection Hotel With over 100 years of exceptional history, Hotel Bristol is one of Warsaw’s landmarks and an emblem of a proud nation. The hotel is situated in one of the most prestigious locations in Warsaw, on the historic and renowned Royal Route which is just a step away from the most fashionable street in Poland – Nowy Swiat. The majestic neo-renaissance facade of the Hotel Bristol is surrounded by the Old Town and the Royal Castle, adjacent to the Presidential Palace. The magnificent location of the hotel will captivate every explorer looking for an unforgettable travel experience and the touch of living history. Today, Hotel Bristol reflects the traditions and rich cultural heritage of Poland which give the country its strong feelings of national pride. For over a century it has been at the heart of Poland’s rich history, witnessing the transformation of Warsaw into a modern-day luxury destination. Following a meticulous and extensive restoration, Hotel Bristol offers a mesmerizing experience, reminiscent of Warsaw’s ‘belle époque’ from the beginning of the 20th century, coupled with contemporary comforts and conveniences, maintaining its tradition of a unique, luxurious masterpiece with an artistic spirit. Bristol Hotel ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44 00-325 Warszawa tel. +48 22 5511000 www.hotelbristolwarsaw.pl

Patat & More Patat & More was founded in 2013. The main goal of the company is to promote the Netherlands, its habits and the Dutch mentality. Patat & More is a food truck that offers customers fries made from Dutch potatoes, made fresh on a daily basis. Dutch fries are fried twice in ‘pure olie’ – 100% natural vegetable oil. Every client is able to enjoy original Dutch sauces, pindasaus and mayonnaise from the Netherlands. The most well-known fries in the Netherlands are called ‘Patatje Oorlog’ meaning ‘war chips’. This is nothing better than fresh fries with two sauces, mayonnaise and pindasaus, topped off with freshly chopped onion! One of the main attractions of Patat & More is also the opportunity to learn a few basic Dutch words. Customers can get a discount if the order is placed in Dutch or they can win a real Dutch orange city bike called ‘Oma Fiets’ by participating in various games and competitions. Patat & More … KING GOOD! Patat & More Sp. z o.o. ul. Pory 78, 02-757 Warszawa, tel. +48 667 926 683 e-mail: info@patat.pl, www.patat.pl

Boomerang Biuro Konsultingowe Boomerang Biuro Konsultingowe is a young company founded in 2015, but whose owner has got almost 2 decades of experience in warehouse logistics. We offer logistical consultancy and we specialise in implementing Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Boomerang can help you organise and optimise your processes, increasing efficiency and cost-reduction. We can also establish electronic data interchange between the WMS and other IT systems. In Poland, we cooperate with Davanti Warehousing to implement their WMS’s MLS Premium (Enterprise Solution) and Corax (Cloud based WMS for small/medium-sized companies) in both conventional and automated environments. We communicate in Dutch, English, Polish and German. Boomerang Biuro Konsultingowe ul. Lwa 17A/13, 61-244 Poznań, tel. +48 601197450 e-mail: info@boomerang-bk.pl, www.boomerang-bk.pl AGENCJA PRACY

eksperci od pracy

Konvert Polska Sp. z o.o. Konvert, an employment and personal consulting agency, has over 50 years’ experience and specialises in employee leasing, recruitment and personal consulting. Our company has its roots in Belgium, where we currently manage more than 70 branches. We want to expand our expertise and high standards of service to Poland. In our first office in Łódź (others to follow), we want to offer the complete portfolio of our solutions to our business partners. Services of Konvert Polska Employment Agency: • Employee leasing (temporary work) • Staff recruitment and selection at every level • Consulting on HR management • Outsourcing of payroll services • Foreign agency services. Konvert Polska Sp. z o.o. ul. Piotrkowska 183-187, 90-447 Łódź, tel. +48 42 280 10 70 e-mail: lodz@konvert.pl, www.konvert.pl

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News

from our members

SYZAN performs laser show at event forum meetings, new contacts between customers, event agencies and service providers were established and existing relations were maintained. As many as 97 companies presented their original solutions and ideas for anyone interested in organising corporate events and meetings, as well as any type of gala or ball.

It is an unusual combination of magical colours and amazing music.

The guests of the 2015 Rijsttafel Charity Ball also witnessed a fantastic laser show performed by Syzan.

During the conference and networking part of the fair, 24 esteemed experts gave presentations on brand strategy, marketing, event Syzan participated in the Evential Forum organisation and the role of events in modern marketing. On January 14th the first Evential Forum was held In the evening, there was an energetic and at the MT Poland Fair and Congress Centre. This stunning laser show by Syzan, an NPCC member was an event combining a conference with trade that also participated in the Evential Forum as an shows for the events industry. exhibitor. The participants took part in four moderated networking sessions and there was also an afterparty which was less formal in nature. During these

The Syzan team specialises in the implementation of various kinds of laser shows and they create incredible artistic light displays.

The Syzan team presents its light displays

Dimar receives Business Wings award The ‚Business Wings’ awards (in Polish: ‚Skrzydła Biznesu’), held for the 6th successive year, are a special award for companies from the SME sector. All companies in Poland submitting their yearly financial results are divided into 3 categories, based on the province where their HQ is registered and their annual turnover level.

Within those 3 categories for each province (micro, medium and larger SME business), the best SME companies are chosen based on factors such as sales growth, profit growth, financial standing, propensity to default etc from a few hundred thousand companies, all of which have a total annual turnover of less than 200 mln PLN.

Dimar received a distinction for being one of the best micro companies in the Łódż province.

During an official awards ceremony organised by Dziennik/Gazeta Prawna at the Sofitel Hotel Victoria in Warsaw on 9th December, the annual ‚Business Wings’ awards were presented to the most successful companies from the SME sector in Poland.

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Among this year’s winners was our member Dimar Polska Sp. z o.o. They received a distinction, having been nominated as one of the best micro companies in the Łódź province. Jasja van der Veen, MD and owner of the company, said: “Having unexpectedly won this award in our category in 2010, today’s distinction was again a pleasant surprise. The beauty of this award is the fact that as a company you do not apply in any way but the organiser finds you. All companies in Poland, when submitting their yearly figures for 2014, were in fact taking part in the ranking process. To be nominated as being among the best financially in your region, and in a similar turnover league to all the other existing legal entities, is a comforting thought for a single entrepreneur - something is going right.”


News

from our members

MAMAISON recognised in online vote best hotels in Poland. Both hotels, although very different, offer their guests individually designed rooms and suites as well as the highest level of service.

Presidential Suite living room at MAMAISON Le Regina

Mamaison Hotel Le Regina and Mamaison Residence Diana Warsaw have been recognised by the users of TripAdvisor, the largest international travel portal, in the category „Top 25 hotels Poland”. The five-star Hotel Le Regina is located in the Old Town of Warsaw and voters gave it a well-deserved 5th place while Residence Diana, located in the heart of Warsaw, closed the list of the top ten

TripAdvisor is the world’s largest online community centred around the theme of travel, with over 60 million users publishing 160 million reviews. Every year, it grants a selected object their highest award - TRAVELLERS’ CHOICE. As their website reads: „This is the only award in the tourism industry awarded every year, based on millions of reviews and opinions from travellers around the world. It is an award for the ‘best of the best’. The Travellers’ Choice award is a distinction for places which travellers always choose to return to.” The boutique Hotel Le Regina has 61 rooms, 2 elegant conference rooms, a well-known restaurant, La Rotisserie, and a recreational area with a swimming pool and sauna. For years, it has been recommended by the Michelin guide ’Main

Cities of Europe‘, and the restaurant is renowned for its delicacies prepared by chef Paul Oszczyk, Chief of the Year by Gault & Millau Poland and an impressive wine list selected by Andrzej Strzelczyk, Polish master of sommeliers in 2012 and 2013. “The Mamaison Hotel Le Regina is the ideal place for people who are looking for refined luxury, who pay attention to detail and who appreciate excellent cuisine,” said Agnieszka Tucharz, Director General of the hotel.

Superior room at MAMAISON Le Regina

Rosti Group acquires Bianor Poland and RomaniaFestival in Łódź Warsaw, and it has since developed a state-ofthe-art factory there (2012) and a second facility in Ploiesti, Romania, 60 km outside Bucharest (2013). Combined, the two facilities offer 20,000 square metres of modern manufacturing capacity, plus an additional 12,000 square metres of warehousing space. Bianor has in excess of 80 injection moulding machines, ranging from 50 to 1,200 ton clamping force.

Rosti Group has announced the signing of an agreement regarding the acquisition of 100% of the shares in the Dutch holding company Boog B.V., and indirectly the Bianor group of companies (Bianor) from the Dutch/German-based private equity company, Nimbus Investments. Bianor is an injection moulder and assembly-solutions provider to major OEMs within the small household appliances, electrical goods and safety accessories sectors. Bianor was founded in 1997 as a Polish-Dutch joint venture in Bialystok, to the north east of

Bianor will be incorporated into the European division of the Rosti Group, led by Executive VP and Deputy CEO, Mr Barry Coughlan, who commented, “We are delighted with the acquisition of Bianor. This will enhance our capacity, capability, customer base and geographic positioning, giving Rosti the opportunity to support additional customers within our global footprint. Bianor has an excellent culture, a skilled and dedicated workforce, modern facilities and a reputation for innovation and continuous improvement. All complementing the ‘Rosti Way’ of operating”. Mr Edwin Puijpe of Nimbus Investments, a hands-on investor with offices in the Netherlands and Germany, added: “”Together with local management, we have worked hard over the last eight years to bring Bianor to where it is today. In this period, we have invested in two brand new factories. The customer base has increased from three to more than fifteen OEM customers, all with

leading positions in their sector. We are very proud of what has been achieved through the dedicated management team and workforce, and we would like to thank them for that. We are confident that Bianor will continue to grow and develop under the Rosti leadership.” Borje Vernet, CEO of the Rosti Group, commented, “Having achieved our 2014 sales target of 400 MEUR, which corresponds to a doubling of sales since 2011, we are now focusing on our new financial targets, including a new sales target of 900 MEUR by the end of the decade. The acquisition of Bianor is a significant and strategic step in this plan and it will introduce Rosti to a number of market-leading OEMs. With Rosti’s facilities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Poland and Turkey and, following the acquisition of Bianor, also in Romania, we have excellent coverage in Europe which is a good complement to our highly successful businesses in China and Malaysia. With our dedication to customer care and our aim to always exceed our customers’ expectations, supported by a targeted investment plan, we are confident that we can continue to serve our customers in a professional way”. The transaction is expected to be closed in the third quarter of 2015, subject to the necessary approval by the Polish Office for Competition and Consumer Protection.

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Marcin Petrykowski dyrektor zarządzający S&P

S&P explains its

credit rating for Poland In January Standard & Poor’s lowered its credit rating on Poland from ‚A-’ to ‚BBB+’ with a negative outlook. Bulletin contacted the Warsaw office of Standard & Poor’s and they gave us the following explanation for the downgrade. What has changed since the last review to result in the downgrade? “The downgrade reflects our view that Poland’s system of institutional checks and balances has been eroded significantly, because we see the independence and effectiveness of key institutions being weakened by legislative measures initiated since the October 2015 election. Both in terms of their direction and extent, we see these measures as having gone beyond what we had anticipated in our baseline scenario during the last review. Since our last review in July 2015, Polish parliamentary elections saw the Law and Justice (PiS) party win an absolute majority in both chambers of the parliament (Sejm) and senate, following the victory of the PiS-supported candidate in the presidential elections in May 2015. Following its electoral victory, the new government has proposed a number of measures including: • A law regarding the composition and voting requirements of the constitutional court that, in our view, will likely impede the court’s role as an effective check and balance; • A media law that shifts the responsibility for appointing and removing directors and supervisory boards of public broadcasters to the treasury ministry, giving the government the ability to influence public media and weakening their independence; and • A law concerning the civil service that terminates the contracts of all career senior civil servants and alters a requirement regarding previous party membership. These measures weaken our institutional assessment for Poland, which reflects our view of the effectiveness, stability and predictability of Poland’s policymaking, political institutions and civil society. Importantly, we believe these measures make checks and balances between institutions, especially between the government and the constitutional court, less certain. In addition, we believe that the government’s firmer grip on public media may weaken the free dissemination of information.” Why is the outlook on the ratings on Poland now negative? “The outlook change reflects the fact that we could lower the ratings if we perceived a further weakening in the independence, credibility and effectiveness of key institutions, most importantly the National Bank of Poland (NBP). In addition, we could lower the ratings if public finances

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deteriorated beyond our current baseline scenario as the revenue and expenditure balance becomes more negative. Poland’s new government will have significant power to shape the composition of the NBP’s new monetary policy council. Eight out of nine MPC members will be replaced in January and February by new members nominated by the Sejm, the senate, and the president. Only one MPC member - Jerzy Osiatynski - will be able to stay on until December 2019. In addition, the term of NBP President Marek Belka expires in June 2016, enabling President Andrzej Duda to appoint a new NBP president. The MPC’s power is mostly confined to conducting monetary policy, in particular setting the NBP base interest rate. On the other hand, the NBP’s management board, of which the NBP president is a member, can significantly influence the NBP’s plan of operations outside the scope of regular monetary policy. We expect the newly-composed monetary policy council will be more dovish. More importantly, however, some remarks by PiS officials suggest that the new government may want to change or broaden the mandate of the NBP. We therefore believe this raises concerns about potential threats to the operational independence and credibility of the NBP resulting from politicization of the decision-making process at the NBP. This could ultimately lead us to lower the ratings on Poland.” How could the ratings or outlook on Poland improve over time? “We may revise the outlook to ‘stable’ if government’s efforts to change and control Poland’s key institutions relented or if sustained strong external performance led to further reductions in net external debt. In particular, we expect a very gradual reduction of Poland’s external debt because the current account deficit, which we expect will persist, will be funded largely through non-debt inflows. Faster-than-anticipated declines in narrow net external debt (external debt net of reserves, plus financial sector assets), which are currently approximately 57% of current account receipts, could lead to an improved assessment of Poland’s external risks. Economic growth remains relatively strong and is increasingly more broad-based. We do not anticipate a slowdown of growth in the near term as a result of the political uncertainty. At the same time, a negative impact on growth in the medium term cannot be ruled out, because banks will be further squeezed through a potential asset tax and a conversion of Swiss-franc-denominated mortgages to Polish zloty. Furthermore, foreign investors in particular are suffering from soon-to-be-introduced taxes on banks, insurers and large retail chains. More importantly, however, the Polish zloty has depreciated by more than 10% against the U.S. dollar since the first round of presidential elections in May 2015. While we do not necessarily anticipate a further weakening of the zloty, we do not think it can be ruled out given the political uncertainty and changing investor perception.” EB


Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Warsaw: The Netherlands’ EU Presidency The Netherlands will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 January to 30 June 2016. Along with the European Commission, the Netherlands will therefore share responsibility for the decision-making process in the EU. As holder of the EU Presidency, the Netherlands’ guiding principles will be for a Union that focuses on the essentials, a Union that focuses on growth and jobs through innovation, and a Union that connects with civil society. The agenda will consist of four priorities: a comprehensive approach to migration and internal security; Europe as an innovator and job creator; sound, futureproof European finances with a robust Eurozone; and a forwardlooking policy on climate and energy. Innovation, growth and jobs: to achieve that, Europe needs smarter rules – simplified rules that apply to all member states. That will

reduce bureaucracy and costs for citizens, companies and public authorities alike. It is important for citizens and civil society organisations to feel connected to Europe, which they will if they see the EU achieving results that matter. And if they can understand how the EU works. In Europe we stand stronger together. There is more that unites us than divides us. That applies to trade, the environment, the climate, energy and, last but not least, our peace, security and prosperity. The Dutch tradition of consultation and cooperation can accomplish a lot in Europe. At the beginning of 2016, therefore, both Henk Kamp, Minister of Economic Affairs, and Sharon Dijksma, Minister for the Environment, visited Warsaw to meet and consult with their Polish counterparts.

DUTCH GARDEN in ŁAZIENKI PARK Last autumn, in front of the old Orangery, a Dutch garden was created. The design of the garden follows the historical symmetry of the terrace and is based on 18th century garden design, but also showcases a large variety of plants designed to create a more contemporary look. The “natural” mixture of cultivated plants in these borders is a starting point for new plant design in urban areas. The layout suits the garden’s history, but also includes several strong new varieties of plants.

The Embassy, together with a group of Dutch and Polish companies, contributed to the establishment of this garden with several tall shrubs, 500 roses and evergreens, around 4,000 perennials and ornamental grasses and almost 50,000 flowering bulbs. With the beautiful variety of flowering plants, this garden represents one of the stepping stones of wildlife in the urban environment of Warsaw, and is therefore a good example of the ‘Green City’ philosophy. The garden will be officially opened during King’s Day, on April 28, 2016.

FLOWER EXPO POLAND, a new fair for flowers and plants in Poland, September 1-3, Warsaw At the end of 2015, the agricultural department initiated conversations between the Polish Greenery Promotion Agency (the organisational and promotional arm of the Polish Nurserymen Association) and BureauSierteelt.nl (a Dutch floricultural organisation). The two organisations recently made their cooperation more concrete with a new fair for flowers and indoor plants which will be organised during the existing fair entitled Green is Life (www. greenislife.pl). With the support of the Embassy, the Dutch guide to Best Value Procurement has been published in Poland. During a special workshop organised by the Polish Association of Engineers and Advisors (SIDIR), Dutch experts shared their practical knowledge in the field of BVP.

FLOWER EXPO POLAND will focus on international traders and the growers of flowers and plants and will be held from 1 to 3 September 2016. The Embassy will be a supporting partner of this fair, which was established as a logical result of the continuously growing market of flowers and plants - in 2015 Dutch exports of flowers and plants reached over 160 mln euro.

One of the priorities of the EU Presidency is to promote cycling as a mode of transportation in cities (as it is sustainable, efficient and healthy). The Embassy will organise a number of different promotional activities as part of Cycling Festival Europe.

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Column Remco van der Kroft

Germans, of all people, know where democracy can lead if there are no checks and balances left. The Netherlands is one of the few democracies in the world that can get away without having such a court.

Advocaat (Dutch licensed lawyer) and The Polish Constitutional Court is set down in the constitution, partner of Olczak-Klimek Van and judges are nominated for 9-year terms. The former parliament recently adopted a new law on the Constitutional der Kroft Węgiełek

Unconstitutional In December, I was sure that I would be writing this column about the new law on the Constitutional Court. Since then, a lot has happened: Polish television has been put under the direct control of the government, mass redundancies have been announced among high-ranking civil servants who have been replaced with more inexperienced ones, the police have been given wide powers to eavesdrop, the minister of justice will directly steer the prosecutor’s office and prosecutors will be allowed to break the law as long as it is in the public interest, a banking tax has been introduced, as well as a turnover-based retail tax and, as the grand finale of the first 100 days of this government, S&P has lowered Poland’s credit rating. In addition, the government has divided Poles into “good” ones and a “worse sort” (in Polish: gorszy sort). The Minister of Foreign Affairs tried to define this group as vegetarians, cyclists and those who promote renewable energy, and the Prime Minister, when commenting on the first large demonstration, referred to the participants as “…the defence of the banking lobby and the lobby of international corporations – groups that have enriched themselves at the cost of Poles” and then added, “That was a golden era for them, but that era has just ended.” As a lawyer representing companies from the Netherlands, the cycling capital of the world and a country big on renewable energy, I must definitely be at the wrong end of the spectrum. No wonder clients are calling to ask if Poland is still a safe place to invest. So, roughly one month later, I don’t know where to start. Therefore, I will just stick with my original idea. In an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about what has been happening in Poland, Dieter Grimm, a former judge of the German Constitutional Court, explains that, based on the German example, especially in a young democracy, a constitutional court is an essential tool in preventing a majority government from treading on the rights of minorities.

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Court, elaborating on the workings of the Court (nothing wrong with that), but also including a clause allowing the old parliament to appoint two new judges in place of two judges who were due for retirement after the elections. This was a rather naive attempt to retain some control after the elections. On 3 December 2015, the Constitutional Court ruled this particular clause to be unconstitutional. This decision was widely applauded by constitutional experts and would have opened the way for PiS to appoint two of its own, with a few more to follow in 2016. However, even before letting the Constitutional Court rule on this issue, the Law on the Constitutional Court was hastily amended, the appointment of the 5 judges by the former parliament was invalidated and the President appointed 5 new judges literally overnight. All pretty spectacular in itself, but the real issue is in the detail. Under the old law and the law before that, the president of the Constitutional Court could determine the order in which complaints filed were to be treated. This allowed the Court to swiftly react to laws that are obviously unconstitutional (e.g. the above-mentioned laws enhancing the power of the police and the public prosecutor) before they could be implemented.

This power has now been taken away because the new law states that complaints have to be dealt with in the order in which they are received, ensuring that the schedule of the court will be so clogged up that its existence will be merely symbolic. Looking at it from a distance, this was a brilliant political move: a government that would like so much to change the Constitution, but lacks the 2/3 majority needed to do it, can now simply ignore it. A government which regularly uses anti-foreign investor rhetoric and which is in desperate need of money to fulfil its election promises (e.g. the promised PLN 500 per child), a prosecutor who will take politically-motivated decisions, a police force that can collect evidence in any way it sees fit, incompetent civil servants and a lack of control by an ineffective Constitutional Court is an explosive mix which could eventually lead to a deteriorating investment climate. Vigilance is therefore required.


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issue 54

Bulletin


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