AmCham May Monthly Meeting
The May Monthly Meeting was held on Monday, May 9, 2022. Our guest speaker was Mr. Krzysztof Drynda, Chairman of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH). AmCham Chairman Tony Housh moderated the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Drynda reminded us about the dual role of PAIH. On the one hand, PAIH's role is to attract foreign investment to Poland and help them settle their businesses. At the same time, on the other, PAIH strongly supports Polish companies in their expansion to foreign markets, including the U.S. market. Mr. Drynda said that the role of PAIH does not end when the investment decision is made. It goes far beyond, and the Agency is able to support investors in tackling their daily issues while they operate in Poland. PAIH has over 50 Foreign Trade Offices that support Polish entrepreneurs abroad, including 4 of them in the U.S. (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston).
Mr. Drynda underlined the role of American investors in Poland. As the largest non-EU investor with a growing share, U.S. companies create a significant value in the market. What's most important, these investments are complex and help the Polish economy not only to grow but also to develop.
Answering the first question, Mr. Drynda clearly stated that today the main task for PAIH is to convince investors; although there is a war in Ukraine, Poland is still, or maybe even more than before, an excellent place to invest. PAIH is taking that challenge and keeps working with business and opinion leaders, explaining that Poland is safe and ready to support investment. Using the example of the global VW CEO visit to Poland that PAIH recently hosted, Mr. Drynda invited all AmCham Members to get closer with PAIH, including an arrangement of high-level visits and discussions that will help build and sustain the reputation of the country.
'Nearshoring' and Poland's role in rebuilding the Ukrainian economy was the next topic discussed. Tony Housh asked about the actions taken by PAIH to guarantee a role for Poland and companies located in Poland in that process. Mr. Drynda mentioned numerous activities, such as diversification of target markets and direct support for Polish entrepreneurs (over 90 export grants). He encouraged AmCham members to cooperate with the supported companies. This PAIH strategy is based on Poland being considered a gateway to Europe with a considerable advantage of understanding both western and central European markets. Supporting local businesses creates economic benefit and a solid foundation for future foreign investments.
The next factor, extremely important for growth, is securing a sufficient number of employees. PAIH, together with the Government, keep working to find a solution to that problem. Shortening the lead time for foreigners’ work permits will be necessary, especially when existing (COVID) regulations expire. Mr. Drynda is aware of that and promised to intensify the efforts. He also mentioned ‘Poland.Business Harbor’ – a program initially dedicated to Belarusian specialists who want to work in Poland. The program is now extended to Ukraine. Mr. Drynda also confirmed that there are no plans to close the program soon. On the contrary, he is willing to expand the program to new countries. The number of applications is growing – from 300 per month to almost 5,000 after the war in Ukraine started.
Jolanta Jaworska, AmCham Vicechair, commented that Poland is not unique in the lack of specialists, especially in IT. That should mobilize us, even more to encourage talents into Poland. With that, she opened a discussion on the reputation of Poland as a place to do business. The current presence of Poland in media and numerous international discussions (in the context of the war in Ukraine and humanitarian help for refugees) should be converted into benefits for Poland and companies located in Poland. Mr. Drynda agreed that this was an excellent moment to strengthen Poland’s international position. In his view, the stability of the Polish legal system has grown. Some issues that might have affected investors' perception of Poland, such as 'Polexit' widely discussed in 2021 or the 'Discovery issue,' have been removed. PAIH is willing to build direct relations with investors, not only before or during the investment process – they encourage settling and maintaining long-term relations with AmCham member companies.
At the end of the meeting, Tony Housh and Mr. Drynda circulated back to the process of rebuilding Ukraine. They both agreed that 'strong and prosperous Poland, as a neighbor to Ukraine (…), will be the best possible thing to help rebuild Ukraine'. U.S. companies facilitating projects and materials operating from Poland will play a significant role in the process of rebuilding the Ukrainian economy and may become the motor for the growth of Poland for the next decades. It's too early to discuss details, but the mechanisms and role of Poland in that process should soon be defined.
Mr. Drynda concluded with the statement that PAIH will work on building a positive image of Poland as a place to invest, will encourage investors by direct contact, and welcome support of all AmCham member companies in these processes.
View meeting gallery HERE