September Monthly Meeting - panel discussion after the Economic Forum in Karpacz.
On September 13, AmCham members met at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel for their Monthly Meeting to discuss the topics of the stakeholder dialogue at the 32nd edition of the Economic Forum in Karpacz, where AmCham had been present with its AmCham Diner for the tenth consecutive time.
The speakers were Radosław Kaskiewicz, Vice President & Managing Director of 3M East Europe & Middle East Africa Region at 3M Poland and also member of the AmCham Board of Directors; Krzysztof Krawczyk, Partner, Head of Warsaw Office, CVC Capital Partners; Marta Poślad, Director, Public Policy at Google, and member of the AmCham Board of Directors; and Marek Żółtowski, Senior Regulatory Manager at BAT. The discussion was moderated by Elżbieta Czetwertynska, Citi Country Officer in Poland, CEO of Citi Handlowy, and also a member of the AmCham Board of Directors.
In her introductory remarks, Elżbieta Czetwertynska said that the Economic Forum in Karpacz offered great opportunities to engage in discussions about topics that were of common interest to the stakeholders in the Polish economy.
Among the most important takeaways from the forum, Czetwertynska listed a report from the Warsaw School of Economics SGH, according to which, in 2020-22 Poland had the highest economic growth in Central and Eastern Europe, while at the same time, the country was lagging behind other CEE countries in attracting foreign direct investment.
Czetwertynska also said that incidentally, during the forum in Karpacz, the Monetary Policy Council announced a decision to lower the interest rate by 75 basis points, which surprised the banking sector. Following the announcement, there were many discussions among the forum participants about the depreciation of the złoty and the inevitable prolongation of inflation in Poland, which all add to the economic instability in the country.
Marta Poślad said that the digital agenda of the Economic Forum in Karpacz centered around hopes and concerns associated with the ongoing digital transformation. Hopes were related to artificial intelligence (AI) and its positive impact on the economy, while concerns addressed bad actors such as Russia and China and how they used online networks to advance their interests internationally.
Poślad said that while the growing importance of AI has been recognized by the G20 countries, this game-changing technology is non-existent in political debate in Poland, which concerned forum participants.
Marek Żółtowsk said that foreign investments are few and far between in eastern parts of Poland, which is why US investments in those regions are even more impactful than in more industrialized regions of the country. They are associated by the regional folk with economic stability and security, which is of special importance today while the war rages in the east.
Radosław Kaskiewicz said there had been many discussions in Karpacz about energy transformation in Poland, which is an important issue for energy-intensive manufacturing companies. One of the conclusions was that Poland will need a transition period to meet the deadlines set by the EU on its energy system transformation. Another conclusion was that following the decommissioning of coal power plants, Poland will have to use nuclear energy to fill the gap in energy production before the country’s fully renewable energy generation is in place.
Kaszkiewicz also said that at the forum, 3M and AmCham Poland held the Sustainability Breakfast with representatives of the Polish Ministry of Finance, who made it clear that only 25 percent of the cost of energy transformation across Europe will be shouldered by EU member states while the remaining 75 percent will be financed by the private sectors. With this, Kaszkiewicz noted, came an important question of what incentives and opportunities will be available for potential investors and creditors.
Krzysztof Krawczyk said that despite all economic complexities, the general mood among the participants of the Economic Forum in Karpacz was optimistic. One reason for that was that the employment levels across the Polish economy were all-time high. An additional factor adding the the optimism at the Karpacz Economic Forum came from a report issued by the Polish General Statistical Office GUS, according to which the inflow of migrant workforce to Poland will continue to be strong in the decades to come. This was good news for investors given that Poland’s population is forecast to shrink to 30.5 million by 2060 from 34 million.
Krawczyk also said that among the discussions at the forum was the poor state of robotization in Poland, which amounted to 37 percent of that in Germany and 60 percent in Europe. The saturation of robots and automation in the Polish economy is approximately 2 to 3 times lower than in Czechia or Hungary and 5 times below the global average.
Robots and automation come to Poland with foreign investment projects. Meanwhile, in 2019, the level of FDI inflow to Poland was the lowest since 1989. “We should be very vocal about the importance of US investors in Poland who bring in the knowhow and money for an IP-based economy,” Krawczyk said, adding that “This is the only answer to the demographic crisis Poland is going to have. The Polish government should create a more predictable and stable legal environment for investors while investors should be given more flexibility for how they up-skill and re-skill their workforce.”
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