Taiwan Trade Center in Warsaw
Interview with Jeremy M. Horng, Director
-What's aim of Taiwan Trade Center Warsaw in Poland?
-We've been here for more than 6 years. Taiwan Trade Center Warsaw is one of the CETRA's worldwide branches. CETRA is Taiwan's foremost trade promotion organization. We introduce Poland's market to Taiwanese businesspersons, which includes providing them with information about contacts with companies and other organizations. We invite Taiwanese to visit Poland whatever for participating trade fairs, searching investment chance, etc. So far there is no less than 300 companies visiting Poland each year.
-How do you evaluate the Polish economic development?
-Poland has so far tried very hard to attract foreign direct investment. It accumulated more than US$65 billion. The change was huge. The Polish economy is dynamic and developing very fast. Poland is a big country, however, its system in doing business is still complicated, which makes doing business more difficult here. The good thing is that privatizing of economy is keeping on going.
-Is there anything Poland can learn from Taiwan's experience in the economic development?
-We are quite different in culture, tradition, social society, and economic and political situations. Basically, you have to urge people to pursue excellence; let people launch their own initiatives; encourage people to develop their business. The small-and-medium-size enterprises (SMEs) generated Taiwan's economy miracle. Our government converted Taiwan into the hi-tech industry and export-oriented economy. The Poland probably can take it for reference.
-What can the Taiwanese businesspersons offer to the Polish counterparts?
-Mostly the services. We can help Polish businesspersons establish worldwide network links. For example, Taiwanese entrepreneurs are one of the biggest partners in pushing and networking China to the world. The mindset and concept are even more important in the present global village than ever before. You have to be aggressive and active in doing business.
-How do you execute you work?
-The Polish market is big enough. Poland is the hub site for the Central and Eastern Europe, and a big country. Many traditional industries and hi-tech factories are being shifted from West to Eastern Europe. Taiwan is strong in the electronics, IT, machinery, etc. We concentrate on technology-intensive business, not labor-intensive sectors. We are the third biggest global player in the IT industry since 1995. Poland today needs a driving force for its business development. We will see more and more Taiwanese come here on business purpose. We are currently preparing a proposal named "Taiwan Products Distribution Center Poland," which will organize a group of companies together to invest in Poland.
In addition, I do hope Polish businesspersons take the advantage of our services. For example, we are going to hold a "catalogue show" on 11-16, December 2003 in three big cities in Taiwan. This event co-organized by The Warsaw Trade Office Taipei is to help Polish companies develop Taiwan market.
-Do you see any disadvantage of Poland?
-Poland has a high education level, high quality work force. Poland is located geographically in the center of Europe, which presents very good opportunities for companies to set up operations here as base for activity in the Central and Eastern Europe. But there are some negative factors, ex. relatively poor development of infrastructure, the high costs of employment that have to do with social security payments, the percentage is almost equal as Germany's, the very complicated taxation regulations, too many red tapes, visas, work permit regulations, and so on. We know Foxconn, one of the biggest players in IT industry invested in Czech 2 years ago. Another one is going to Czech too. A World Bank survey on conditions for doing business around the world showed that Poland ranked close to the bottom, in the category of length of time to enforce legal contracts. On average it takes a few years in Poland. This could be a very significant factor, because if you are owed money by a business partner, supplier or client, and it takes so long to get a decision that you should be repaid, the company could well have disappeared by then.
-What is your suggestion?
-Czech provides better environment. Its officials are more open-minded, helpful and provide real one-stop service. Here the bureaucracy continues to be a barrier. Just being allowed to stay here cost us a lot of effort. As a trade promotion organization, we want to encourage people to come here. Unfortunately it is not easy at present.
-What is the outlook for our mutual trade relation?
-Taiwan is the 16th biggest overseas investor in the world, being particularly active in the manufacturing sector. But we are gradually making more and more effort on trade and marketing. There are currently about several hundred businesspersons visiting Poland, they are eagerly interested in establishing ties with Poland. According to our statistics, the trade value was US$232 million in 2002. Taiwan had a trade balance of US$68 million. But from Poland's statistics it was US$574 million. Taiwan had a trade balance of US$444 million. The difference between two statistics shows that quite a big part (about 70%) was indirect trade being done through the West European countries. Why couldn't we deal directly for the other big part? Nevertheless, I very much believe that, especially once Poland joins EU, the trade value will continually increase. The relations in every aspect will be getting stronger.
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