Blog Posts | 03-05-2022 | BZ members worldwide
For the Netherlands, Poland is number eight as an export destination and tenth as a country of origin for our imports. Of all the countries in Central Europe, Poland is our most important trading partner. What can the Dutch embassy do for entrepreneurs? An interview with Ambassador Daphne Bergsma.
How would you describe the trade relationship between the Netherlands and Poland?
“Strong, diverse and with great growth potential. The total volume of bilateral trade in goods between Poland and the Netherlands grew to 27.2 billion euros in 2021. More and more Dutch companies are discovering Poland and making money there by selling advanced machinery, paints and pharmaceuticals. Even in the lockdown year 2020, trade between the two countries increased. For the Netherlands, Poland is number eight as an export destination and tenth as a country of origin for our imports. Of all the countries in Central Europe, Poland is our most important trading partner. “
So the impact of the corona pandemic was limited?
“Certain sectors, such as the do-it-yourself sector, exported well during that period. It’s also interesting there nearshoring is in the spotlight: We are currently receiving a lot of questions from companies that no longer want to build new production sites in Asia, but are looking closer to home. For Dutch entrepreneurs already active in Germany, Poland is only a short distance away. ”
Poland has about 3,500 Dutch companies.
“Dutch farmers, IT entrepreneurs and transporters came here to try their luck after the revolution in 1989. Many small and medium-sized enterprises have production facilities in Poland. The Dutch Thaumatec in Wroclaw, for example, designs and manufactures smart healthcare devices using artificial intelligence. In addition, there are relatively many transport companies. Everywhere you see trucks from Raben driving. And did you know that some companies have their common service center here? Low wages and a relatively highly educated population make Poland attractive. The most rewarding work we do is to help Dutch newcomers to the Polish market. We provide information on politics, economics and culture, put companies in touch with the right people and organizations, trade missions and match-making with Polish companies. ”
In which sectors are the opportunities for Dutch entrepreneurs?
“The market research we have done shows that there are plenty of opportunities in renewable energy. The most potential? Wind energy at sea! Poland will build huge wind farms in the Baltic Sea. This means options in installation, control and maintenance. Together with the Dutch Wind Energy Association, the embassy is organizing a conference on offshore wind energy.
In addition, many Poles are tired of air pollution: Cities are investing in greener and public transport. There is great interest in Dutch IT solutions, charging stations, sustainable mobility and smart city development. Alfen, a Dutch manufacturer of charging stations for electric cars, works on the roads in all kinds of Polish municipalities. Different parties meet for the New Mobility Congress. In addition, the demand for railway components, train control and signaling systems and rolling stock is high. That’s why we’re also contributing to the Rail Freight Summit program this year. “
Circular economy is still in its infancy in Poland. Are there opportunities for pioneers there?
“Hell yes! Every year the embassy organizes the circular economy week to share inspiring examples. A Dutch company opened a recycling plant in Wroclaw, where old clothes are recycled into textiles. We helped the company lobby to change the Polish rules so that the recycling industry can work in a greener way. “
What differences should entrepreneurs take into account?
“There is a lot of energy, creativity and zeal in the relatively young Polish economy. The Dutch see Polish entrepreneurs as dedicated, solid and pragmatic. In general, Poles are a little more formal and hierarchical. The Polish bureaucracy sometimes surprises – or frustrates – Dutch entrepreneurs. If a company feels really badly off by the Polish government, we can come to the rescue. We are careful about that, because there are often other channels available, and we do not want to waste our powder too quickly with the Polish government. Main difference: In the Netherlands, entrepreneurs, governments and knowledge institutions are used to working together on solutions. This approach is less developed in Poland. The embassy therefore tries to bring different parties into contact with each other. ”
How does the Dutch embassy support entrepreneurs?
“We try to help every Dutch company with a financial demand as best we can. We go the extra mile for Dutch entrepreneurs who want to do business sustainably. The goals of sustainable development are very important to us: We try to translate these goals for example, a developer of vegetarian products wants to build a factory near Szczecin for the production of vegetable proteins as a raw material for meat substitutes.The subsidy for a feasibility study has just been approved.
We share our knowledge with the Dutch business community in all possible ways: one-on-one, via social media and events. For example, we arrange an online talk show for Dutch entrepreneurs with the Dutch-Polish Chamber of Commerce every month. ”
How does the work at the Dutch embassy contribute to the Dutch economy?
“With our service and information supply, we pour lubricating oil into the Dutch trading machine. We give Dutch companies a helping hand so that they can sell their products or services better, or further develop their activities in Poland. This generates income for the company and contributes to employment and prosperity in the Netherlands. That is what we do for the embassy. ”
This article has previously appeared in GLOBE Magazine.
Also read the article on doing business in South Africa