Georgian - Polish Business Forum promises even closer ties
Bronislaw Komorowski, the President of Poland, and a key high level Polish official opened the Polish-Georgian business forum on July 27. The forum aims to discuss opportunities for development projects, growth in exports and foreign direct investments.
In total, more than fifty delegates representing energy, construction, insurance, finance, food production and the engineering industry fields visited Georgia to share their experience and present investment plans with their Georgian colleagues.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Komorowski, highlighted the importance of developing economic and political relations between the two countries. “The friendship between Georgia and Poland is priceless […] we have to strive to achieve even more free markets in a time of democracy which is a difficult process but attainable.”
According to Komorowski, Poland is ready for closer economic cooperation with Georgia. He also encouraged Georgian businesses to list their companies stocks on the Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE). The WSE is one of the biggest stock exchanges in central Europe where international companies are traded.
Nika Gilauri, the Prime Minister of Georgia underscored in his speech, Poland’s active lobbyist role in the international arena, especially in the European Union and some factors that “are the premise for developing the mutual business cooperation between the countries.”
He said that Georgia has especially close political and economic relations with Poland and it plans not only to maintain these relations, but to further deepen them. “The visit of the Polish President and the business representatives is a clear confirmation of this and in the nearest future we will see the increased FDI from Poland in Georgia including in tourism, healthcare, energy and the agriculture sectors,” he noted.
The event was co-organized by the National Investment Agency of Georgia (GNIA), the Polish Embassy in Georgia, the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Georgian Employers Association.
According Keti Bochorishvili, the Director of GNIA, which is an arm of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the amount of Polish investment is increasing in Georgia: it was $10.8 million in 2009, $23.4 million in 2010 and $10.1 million in the first quarter of 2011 alone.
The figures illustrate a promising picture in the trade sector as well. The trade turnover between Poland and Georgia increased in 2010 to $54 million, a 24% increase from 2009.
Polish businessmen have shown a keen interest in doing business in Georgia. According to Marcin Jastrzebski, the Vice President of the Polish-Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, approximately 40 Polish companies are currently operating on the Georgian market.
However, Jastrzebski, emphasized in an interview with Georgia Today, building greater cooperation with Georgia is a priority, and in the near future new agreements on trade and merchandise, construction and financial sectors are expected to be reached. Mulling over the potential in the Georgian market, Jastrzebski noted that one of the Polish food-producing companies plans to open an enterprise here.
In order to find out more about Polish entrepreneurs interests, Georgia Today interviewed Marek Kordas, Chairman of the Management Board of the Polish Engineering Company, an infrastructure development company.
“It is my second visit in Georgia and I have explored the construction as well as tourism sectors of Georgia that sound interesting,” said Kordas, who participated in the forum in search of a Georgian partner to find new avenues for building a four-star hotel in Batumi. “GNIA promised to help me find a land plot in Batumi and I hope that by the end of September this year we will start building the hotel with Polish investment.”
He pointed to the need for wider informational campaigns to gain the interest of Polish business circles to invest in Georgia because “most of them don’t know Georgia’s real potential.”
Another Polish businessman, Marek Czerski, President of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Polish Reinsurance Company, expressed interest in expanding its presence in Georgia. His company has been working with Georgian insurers since 2002. Some of the companies he has worked with include Aldagi BCI, GPI Holding, IC Group since and would be glad to find more partners.
From a Georgian perspective, Giorgi Shagidze, the Deputy Director of TBC Bank, which is second largest bank in Georgia by total assets, has become interested in listing stocks on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. “Every company that strives for future development needs its stocks to be traded successfully on the stock exchanges,” he said.
At the end of the sessions, delegates from Poland made business to business meetings with their Georgian colleagues, where they swapped business cards and exchanged ideas with the hope that this forum would have a follow-up meeting for future business agreements.
By Tamar Khurtsia