President urges Poland and Vietnam to be gateways for each other
On Thursday, Polish President Andrzej Duda opened a Polish-Vietnamese Economic Forum in Ho Chi Minh City, calling on Warsaw to be Hanoi's gateway to its region, and vice versa.
As he raised the curtain on the event, the Polish head of state emphasised the forum was "absolutely one of the top items" on his Vietnamese itinerary.
Andrzej Duda - who was set to complete a four-day visit to Vietnam later on Thursday - noted with satisfaction that no less than 60 Polish entrepreneurs, as well as twice as many domestic firms, attended the bilateral economic forum.
Accompanying the president in the Asian country were representatives of Poland's medical-services, aviation, mining, shipbuilding, farming and food-processing industries, among others.
"Vietnam could be Poland's gateway to Asia, and likewise Poland should pave Vietnam's way to Europe", the Polish head of state insisted. "This is precisely why I am here", he added, "I am lending my support to such pursuits both on the Polish and Vietnamese side".
"I would like for you, ladies and gentlemen, not to be afraid of mutual investments", Andrzej Duda urged.
As the President observed, some Vietnamese entities have already established a significant presence in Poland, with projects also going in the other direction. Earlier this week, under the President’s patronage, Polish pharmaceuticals firm Adamed Holding paid USD 50 million for a controlling stake in Dat Vi Phu Pharmaceutical JSC. This is Poland's biggest-ever direct investment in Vietnam.
"I would like there to be more such initiatives", the head of state said, "and I believe our meeting today will contribute to this".
The president also pointed to the current imbalance in bilateral trade, with Polish exports to Vietnam being much smaller than what Hanoi sells to Warsaw.
"I would be very pleased for Polish farming and food-processing products to enjoy a bigger presence on the Vietnamese market", Andrzej Duda said.
"The same goes for the Polish machinery-makers, mining companies and producers of agricultural machines", he added.
"I would also encourage you, ladies and gentlemen", the head of state addressed the Vietnamese audience, "to take note of the Polish offer when it comes to electric buses".
Bilateral collaboration holds much promise, Andrzej Duda noted, with Poland ranked as the sixth-biggest economy in the European Union, and given the planned introduction of the bloc's free-trade deal with Vietnam, which should provide fresh investment and export opportunities.
The Polish head of state also expressed hope that permanent air-travel connections would soon be unveiled between Poland and Vietnam, notably from Warsaw to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Even now, however, Vietnam is perhaps Poland's friendliest partner in Southeast Asia, the president said.
"It would be hard to find another state or society with such strong links to Poland and an equally vast knowledge of Poland", Andrzej Duda said.
No less than 5,000 Vietnamese people speak fluent Polish, the president noted, and several tens of thousands of them have settled in Poland.
Moreover, "Vietnam has enjoyed great economic success over the past 30 years", President Duda underlined. For some time now, the country has grown by over 6 percent of the GDP per year, making it one of the Asian economic tigers.
Yet the President pointed out the Polish economy was also expanding, "currently by over 4 percent of the GDP, which amounts to a great success in today's Europe".
"Please look at the Polish case, at our reality", the head of state told the Vietnamese audience, "because like you, we have had a market economy for less than thirty years".
"We have grappled with various problems", he conceded, "and in reforming the economy and the political system, we have made multiple mistakes".
"But we are ambitious and will press ahead unfailingly", Andrzej Duda underscored.
This also includes relations with Vietnam, the President said, because according to the Polish government, the Asian country ranks among Warsaw's top five most promising investment and export markets.
With that in mind, the cabinet has launched a programme of support for micro-, small and mid-size firms which want to do business with Vietnam, whether through investments or export.
In addition to this, Poland's State Agency for Investment and Trade (PAIH) would open an office in Ho Chi Minh City later on Thursday.
"This will be a place where Vietnamese entrepreneurs can obtain information about conducting business in Poland, about the investment climate and loan opportunities", the president explained.
Andrzej Duda's keynote speech was followed by addresses from the head of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Vo Tan Thanh, and the country's Minister for Information Technology and Communications, Truong Minh Tuan. Thanking the Polish President for his ambitious visit, both officials underlined Vietnam's strong ties with Poland and vowed to facilitate bilateral collaboration in the future, hoping for a similar stance from Warsaw. (PAP)