How do you describe the current state of relations between India and Poland since the visit of External Affairs Minister to Warsaw in 2019?
Our relations are very good both from the political standpoint and trade perspective. The latter can be clearly seen in numbers of 2019 when the bilateral trade summed up to $2.36 billion, but I can see a lot more potential to unfold here. India is the number one country in Asia for Polish investors, the trade between our countries has grown seven-fold over the last decade and we are striving for more.
I identify specific sectors in which we can have greater collaboration such as food and food-processing, but Poland has a lot to offer in terms of smart cities and cybersecurity as well. Signing the BTIA-EU India Free Trade Agreement would definitely make us see a growth spurt in the Indo-Polish trade relations.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar during his visit declared willingness to engage with Poland and our region and we are advocating for a smooth connection between Warsaw and Delhi that would enable a regular and continuous transfer. We campaign strongly for the reopening of a direct Warsaw-Delhi flight operated by LOT that unfortunately had to come to a standstill due to the pandemic.
What are key priorities for Poland in its ties with India?
The priority is to build relations that last. Mostly trade-wise, but we also want to introduce Poland and the opportunities to the young generation of Indians. We aim to boost the trade exchange and we are very proud to maintain plenty of academic ties and endeavour to build on it. Nearly a couple of weeks ago I inaugurated a Polish National Agency for Student Exchange Helpdesk at Manipal Academy of Higher Education so even more students can experience the fast path in which we develop.
Poland was acclaimed one of 50 most innovative countries by Bloomberg in 2017 and it is important that India continues to see us as the technology hub in Central Europe and the friendly place to do business. Poland’s economy is fast and stable, we are part of the EU and despite the hardships of 2020, we were the third preferred location in Europe for foreign investments with nearly 200 foreign investments in last year’s portfolio with a total record value of 10 billion euro. We have a lot to offer in terms of green technologies, smart cities, cybersecurity, fintech and water management.
Can you provide an update on the Indian investments in Poland?
According to the 2019 statistics, there are 142 Indian companies active in Poland with over 3 bln USD of Indian investments in various sectors, mostly in advanced production technologies, IT, Research & Development and consumption goods. Other than what I already mentioned, Indian investors recognise and appreciate the intellectual capital and the labour quality to cost ratio that is based on Poles’ strong work ethics. Our FDI is on the 10% rise despite the global trend and that indicator speaks for itself.
What in your opinion can India do to expand its presence in Central Europe?
Engaging with the Visegrad Group countries is the way to go. The Alliance between Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia is celebrating its 30 years’ this year, during Poland’s rotating annual presidency. This partnership can be relied on for many reasons, but mostly because it is based on common values and a true friendship among the EU member countries that are open to a wider cooperation. We are strengthening the V4+ formula not solely by cooperating with the EU and Balkan countries, but also with Japan and the Republic of Korea. This shows that an overseas cooperation is both feasible and sought-after.
V4 is an exemplary initiative of regional cooperation in Europe. India can be a good partner in this cooperation. We are looking forward to it.