Poland, UAE share strong ties in strategic areas
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski in Warsaw this year.-AFP
Klaudia Lach, First Counsellor, Head of Political, Economic and Consular Division (as Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the Republic of Poland) shares her thoughts on bilateral relations.
In the Middle East, the UAE is a strategic political and economic partner of the Republic of Poland. Last year Poland celebrated 25 years of Polish-Emirati diplomatic relations and both countries stressed on their commitment to the development of mutual relations.
In June this year Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum visited Warsaw on a two-day visit and discussed bilateral relations with the President Bronislaw Komorowski (who first visited the UAE in December 2013) and President-Elect Andrzej Duda (who commenced his term on August 6, 2015).
According to Lach, Shaikh Mohammed praised the democratic and urban development in Poland. The visit highlighted the importance of the economic relations, among them UAE investments in Poland as well as cooperation in defence and security. Now, Poland is looking forward to the visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in 2016.
Bilateral trade ties
The UAE remains Poland's top trade partner in the Gulf and the Middle East. The trade turnover between the two countries increased by 50 per cent compared to 2013 from $865 million to $1.3 billion in 2014. It tripled in five years and shows future growth potential. Polish exports to the UAE are much higher than imports - last year exports amounted to $1.1 billion.
Recently the trade has been growing in the agricultural sector and Polish food exports have been steadily increasing. Polish apples and sweets continue to be of great interest. In 2014 the major export products from Poland included telephones ($666 million), cocoa butter ($18.5 million), automatic data processing machines ($16.2 million), refrigerator-freezers ($15.2 million) and sugar syrups ($15.1million).
The UAE and the European Union have signed a reciprocal bilateral short-stay visa waiver agreement exempting UAE citizens from the Schengen visa, making it the first Arab country to receive such a visa waiver for its nationals. Since May 7 this year, UAE citizens who hold diplomatic, special, service and ordinary passports have been able to travel without a visa to EU countries, which make up the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days (within any 180-day period of one year).
The UAE exempted Polish citizens (and other EU citizens) from requiring a pre-entry visa since March 22, 2014. These decisions, as well as direct flights between Warsaw and Dubai, launched successfully by Emirates in February 2013, encourages business people contribute to bilateral trade and promote tourism.
During Shaikh Mohammed's visit to Warsaw, both countries concluded a number of joint agreements on cooperation in areas of agriculture and food safety, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), tourism, and higher education and scientific research.
Polish universities are opening up to the world and have enormous potential. They offer foreign students high quality of teaching, attractive courses conducted in English and competitive cost of studying.
The Ministry of Science has been consistently working on enhancing internationalisation of Polish universities. As part of a new programme called 'Universities of the Future', Polish colleges will receive EUR 75 million to cover financial cost of international accreditation, bring lecturers from abroad and conduct classes in foreign languages. Last year, the Ministry launched the Arabic language version of the www.go-poland.pl website.
Areas of co-operation
Poland's bilateral cooperation is conducive to the convergence of priorities and views on international issues. The nation works intensely on new directions and opportunities for better cooperation in strategic areas such as military cooperation, security and defence, infrastructure projects as well in the context of EXPO 2020, renewable energies, science and culture, food security and food industry and processing industry, and in the context of the expansion of the UAE-tourist cooperation.
Shaikh Mohammed's visit to Poland in June 2015 was significant to strengthen the economic relations between the two countries. They debated on ways to upgrade the joint economic cooperation in all fields and explore the potential of both countries to strengthen cooperation in major sectors, especially in areas of infrastructure, trade, industry, renewable energy, agriculture, SME projects and innovation. The visit was closed with the signing of Polish-UAE agreements, among them an agreement on cooperation in tourism, a memorandum on higher education and scientific research, a letter of intent on cooperation in agriculture and food safety, and a memorandum on cooperation in innovation and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Outlook for trade
Polish industrial growth remained strong in the European bloc, which saw low or even zero growth in many other countries. The nomination of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to the post of European Council President reflects Poland's standing in Europe.
Lach says that Poland can be sure about a bright future ahead for trade relations with the UAE. Over the past few years, Polish companies have understood the potential of cooperation with UAE-based companies and they can benefit from the government's programmes aimed at promoting manufacturers from specific sectors: medical equipment, cosmetics and beauty products, automotive industry, foodstuff, and furniture.
Moreover, the UAE being a strategic Polish partner allows re-export of products to other Arab and African countries. The polish businesses are showcased through international exhibitions across the UAE. Daily flight connection between Dubai and Warsaw has already proven as a vital logistic incentive for passengers and cargo.
Poland's Emirati partners find potential investment opportunities in infrastructure, manufacturing of construction materials, travel and tourism in Poland. Moreover, the UAE is also keen on cooperation in the area of higher education and business partnerships at the level of SMEs, for UAE youth and Polish entrepreneurs. Other areas of economic exchange are stimulated by the agreements between the two governments, which include cooperation in tourism and a letter of intent on cooperation in agriculture and food safety.
Sectors for investment in Poland
Emirati entities can find potential investment opportunities in infrastructure, manufacturing of construction materials, travel and tourism. The Emiratis are keen to benefit from Poland's industrial know-how, apart from investing in its petrochemicals, healthcare, food security and renewable energy sectors. The UAE businesses can benefit from Poland's technological expertise in the area of bio-technology, information and communication technology or ICT.
The mutual cooperation can be boosted through civil engineering, healthcare and agro-food sectors. With the UAE and GCC seeking food security, there could be scope for cooperation in agriculture trade. Polish apples and other farm produce can tap demand in the UAE owing to their great quality - as concluded by Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri at the UAE-Poland Business Forum.
Incentives provided for investors
Poland welcomes foreign investors. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy said during his visit in the UAE in April 2015: "We are highly ranked in this regard due to very low investment risk. Our attractiveness can be attributed to a large domestic market, a competitive and well educated human capital, political and economic stability, as well as the membership in the European Union."
There are many investment incentives for foreign investors such as: governmental grants provided on the basis of programme for supporting investments of major importance to the Polish economy for years 2011-2020, Special Economic Zone (SEZ), industrial and technology parks and investment incentives in municipalities comprising real estate tax exemption.
Foreign investors can benefit from special tax exemptions and other facilities in one of the 14 SEZs in Poland. SEZ is part of Polish territory, which is administered separately, allocated for the running of businesses on preferential terms. SEZ is a place, which is subject to special treatment and tax exemptions where an entrepreneur can establish a business on a specially prepared site and run it without paying income tax.
Klaudia Lach, First Counsellor, Head of Political, Economic and Consular Division as Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the Republic of Poland.