A Great Success - Trade Visit to Poland!

A Great Success - Trade Visit to Poland! Image

William Beckett, ITF Chairman and Leader of the Trade Visit to Poznan reports on the recent trade visit to Poland with 12 companies participating from the Sheffield City Region. The programme of arranged meetings and events went like clockwork and the delegation was warmly greeted by all the people we met from all the different organisations.

It began with a meeting at the British Polish Chamber of Commerce (BPCC) in the Poznan Town Hall where representatives from various business organisations had been invited to meet us. Presentations followed by the Director of the BPCC in Poznan, Ilona Chodorowska and the Director of DIT in the British Embassy in Warsaw, Lech Kaczanowski, on the trading opportunities for UK companies not only in the Poznan region, but in Poland generally.

Impressively, he had flown into Poznan from Warsaw at midnight the night because he said it was unusual for a trade mission of 12 companies to travel to Poland and that it was important for him to be present to meet us. He also emphasised how receptive he would be to receive enquiries direct from any of our group and other companies in our region wishing to explore exporting opportunities in Poland.

He explained that Poland exports twice as much to the UK as we do to Poland, £11.45 billion as against £5.88 billion.  He went onto say that of the £600 billion of international trade with the 10 Central European body of EU countries, the UK is only responsible for 2.75% of this. More alarmingly, he also noted that the UK through the DIT did not regard the Central European market as big enough to warrant the investment compared with the large markets of China, India, US and S.E. Asia.

This was extremely alarming to hear in that it demonstrates once again the UK's lack of basic understanding in how to support smaller companies in trading internationally. Smaller companies do not have the resources, both in export skills and experience as well as financial support to focus on the large overseas markets as China and India. The focus should be more accessible and that means Europe and the EU, academic of Brexit because UK companies need to protect the business they have already got and pursue trade with the EU countries which like us and want to trade with us, e.g. the 10 Central European countries.

The benefit of being ‘on the ground' cannot be emphasised enough and as a result of the introductions on the first morning of our visit, meetings were arranged between some of our delegates whilst we were with them. Details will now be circulated to ITF members not on the mission for them to also pursue the opportunities in Poland.  As the ITF, we were also delighted in that we now have a direct link with the Embassy in Warsaw to assist us with making contact with their counterparts in the other Central European countries, including specifically the Czech Republic, which is the next target market where we are planning to take a trade visit with the support of the next Master Cutler in 2019.

Following this excellent start to our programme, we were greeted by Dorota Wallusch, International Affairs Coordinator of MTP, the Poznan Fair itself, which hosts the ITM Polska exhibition, who duly presented us with our ‘Welcome Packs' which included free entry passes for the duration of the exhibition.  We were given a short presentation on the exhibition and the use of a VIP lounge for us to hold meetings.

As for us, the week got better with an introduction to Andrzej Lyko, President of the Polish Chamber of Commerce in Poznan, who offered their support and cooperation in helping companies from our region expand into the market in their region. Again, unless we had been ‘on the ground' we wouldn't have been able to make these introductions and dealing with Polish organisations direct is far better.

The companies on our trade mission worked extremely hard seeking leads and following up prearranged meetings.  Another extremely useful thing we learned is the importance in Poland of ‘clusters', which are regional organisations focusing on certain market sectors such as ‘metal working'. The heads of these organisation were very amenable to our working with them in establishing contacts between us.

It is not the norm for companies to come away from trade missions with orders, but rather to establish links and connections with individual companies, organisations and even individual people themselves. Networking is essential in establishing contacts which are crucial for our companies to succeed in entering the market.  For certain, everyone we met in Poland was friendly and wanted to help us; as such, I cannot think of a country I have been to in my past 30 years of international travel which has been so welcoming. It is now up to individual companies to use the opportunity our trade mission has presented them.

It was a very successful trade mission in which we learned a huge amount about the market and its people and what a great country it is to visit made easy with the WizzAir flights from DSA to all parts of Poland.

Last Updated: 24/07/2018
Author: Renate Halton

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