Energy forms the core of strategic partnership with India – Polish Ambassador, Prof Krzysztof M. Byrski
“Its energy, its energy and it is energy” that forms the core of the strategic partnership between India and Poland”, said the Polish Ambassador to India, Prof Krzysztof M. Byrski on the eve of celebrating the 60th anniversary of India-Poland relationship held at the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi. Prof Byrski, an Indologist par excellence, thanked the then Jam Sahib of Nawanagar for giving shelter to 6000 Polish orphans released from Serbia during the WW II, which, according to him, “ the Polish people will never forget”.
India and Poland established their diplomatic relations in 1954; after three years, India opened its embassy in Warsaw in 1957. While celebrating the 60th anniversary, the Polish Ambassador underlined the need for promoting, boosting and expanding robust economic, social and cultural engagements between the two countries as now Poland offers one of the most attractive destinations in the entire EU.
Trade & Investment
After Russia’s collapse, Poland has emerged the largest trade and investment partner of India in the Central Eastern Europe. In recent years, India’s investment in Poland has significantly grown, approximately $3 billion, while Poland’s touched a record investment of $100 million, which is expected to double in a couple of years. Major Indian companies investing in Poland are: ArcelorMittal, Videocon, Escorts, Strides Arcolab, Reliance Industries, Ranbaxy, Essel Propack, KPIT Cummins, Zensar Technologies Ltd, Infosys and Wipro, Jindal Stainless, Berger Paints India, UFLEX Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Flemingo Duty Free, Rishabh Instruments etc.
The Polish companies that operate in India include Torunskie Zaklady Materialow Opatrunkowych (TZMO) in Dindigul (manufacturing hygiene sanitary products) Can-Pack Poland in Aurangabad (manufacturing metal packaging), Inglot (cosmetic products), Geofyzika (seismic surveys for oil companies) In recent years, the scope of service sector has also substantially increased.
Highlighting the trade relations, Ambassador, pointed out that during his tenure bilateral trade has doubled from $1 billion to $2 billion and hope to double again in the coming few years. India’s major exports to Poland include, tea, coffee, artificial resin, plastic material, non-ferrous metals and machine tools. Major imports from Poland have been electromechanical appliances, mineral products, chemical products, etc. Both countries can increase their trade in engineering goods, especially relating to machinery & engineering equipment, railways, shipping, etc.
India and Poland are aware of the huge economic potentials that exist between the two countries. In May 2006, both the countries signed the new Economic Agreement and in May 2008 the first meeting of the Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation (JCEC) held in New Delhi in India, while second meeting held after three years of gap in Poznan (Poland) in May 2011. In Order to promote bilateral investment, in January 2013 India and Poland signed the agreement of the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion. The Polish Ambassador also shared that the biggest business delegation ever from India, around 130 Indian companies, is visiting Poland.
The year 2013-14 might be recorded as one of the most fruitful one between India and Poland. Both the countries have identified some core areas where huge opportunities on both the side can be tapped. During the third India-Poland JCEC held in October 2013 in New Delhi both the countries formed three Joint Working Groups related to energy, food processing and IT sectors. During this meeting some of the major areas of mutual interest have been identified.
One of the most successful events ever held between India and Poland has been the Energy Summit held simultaneously in New Delhi and Kolkata in January 2014. Poland is recognized for its green technologies, while India on the other hand is known for its growing coal consumption in the world. As a result, there is a great possibility of synergy between the two countries in sustainable development and reducing the carbon footprints. Besides, Poland has long and successful history in coal mining sector; hence can supply India good quality coal, state-of-the-art mining and safety equipment. While talking to the possibility of the sale of coal mines to which the Indian investors are comepting, Prof. Byrski informed that technically it is not feasible. As per the law, the Polish government cannot sell those PSUs, where government has more than 51 per cent stakes. However, is important to underline that the Mittals have purchased most of the iron and steel mills in Poland, which became bankrupt particularly after the collapse of the former USSR.
Education and Technology
Poland offers one of the best education opportunities in Europe. It has over 460 academic centres with almost 1.8 million students. University teaching staff accounts for around 100,000 specialists and every tenth European students comes from Poland. In the field of technology, Polish scientists and technocrats are globally known for their achievements and innovation capabilities. They are famous for the discovery of the first extra-solar planetary system; the creation of technology for production of the blue laser; the production process of making the world’s smallest synthetic diamonds and for the isolation of queen cells from bone morrow. Their scientists are also expert in making unmanned helicopter or modern prosthetic hand and competed with the NASA in Mars Rover Magma 2. Poland has also invented super economic car Kropelka (Droplet), which can drive 607 km on one litre of fuel. It is of 46 kg and has been developed by the joint technologies of aviation and automotive line.
The Polish government is promoting the establishment to global R&D centres. The Indian private investors can grab this opportunity and establish R&D labs and utilise the skilled Polish human capital.
Defence is another important sector, which opens immense scope for cooperation between India and Poland. Strategic and defence ties between Indian and Poland started in the early 1970s with the sale of Soviet equipments. During the Cold War and thereafter “Poland has been the main provider of armoured recovery vehicles” and sold “over 500 units of the WTZ-3” to India. Poland is also keen in joint ventures and technology transfer. It is also interested to revive the old contracts for Indian defence equipments such as supply of new FCS for the Indian Army’s T-72s and upgrading the SAM systems. Both the countries can share their expertise and enhance their bilateral defence capabilities. For instance, Poland has rich experience in mountain warfare; India can share and secure its long mountainous border.
India has opened its defence sector to the private investors. Companies like Tata, Mahindra, are now entering the defence production and R&D sectors. Poland can establish joint venture with these business houses. Looking at the prospects, both the countries have signed MoU on Defence in 2003. In 2004, they have also established a Joint Defence Working Group has also been established for continuous dialogue and R&D.
Although the Indian side is mentally not prepared to sign strategic partnership with Poland, the Polish analysts think that it deserve serious consideration. India needs to “re-profile its mindsets about a changing Poland in a changing European Union as a result of successive eastward enlargement”. India needs to expand and cover the Eastern Europe and Poland can become a reliable partner of New Delhi. Historically, too the two countries “share common perceptions”. Both, India and Poland have a number of similarities such as both have adopted new economic policies; both are now open to foreign investors and both want to promote their shared values and build their future.
Poland has now been the part of EU. The Indian investors may use Poland as the gateway to EU and capture the European market. Some of the strategic sectors of Poland offer huge scope for cooperation. These are: automotive, aviation, BPO/SSC, electronics, energy, food industry, household appliances, IT, and R&D. The Indian investors can benefit from cheap (seven times cheaper than the EU) and highly skilled Polish workforce and maintain their competitiveness. The Polish economy has also shown a great degree of resiliency and has maintained its growth particularly when most of the European economies are struggling with the 2008 economic crisis.
The Polish ambassador pointed out till date both countries were talking more on regional and global issues; now time has come to focus on bilateral, people to people, business to business areas. In the new global dynamics, India and Poland need to share and mutually benefit from the common expertise’s and resources of the each other. Uplifting people and developing with the world is one of the priorities of Poland. He also said that Poland is ready to share its growth story with liberal, free and democratic countries.
On the Russian role, the Ambassador said that Poland is not against Moscow but it also does not support occupation and intervention in any country’s domestic affairs. He also said that now the time has come look out of the Cold War box.
Culturally, both the countries have sound background and they need to build it further by promoting robust people to people relationship. There are around 3000 Indian diaspora living in Poland. The growing relationship demands an establishment of direct flights between the two countries, at least connecting the business hubs of both the countries.
Dr. Zakir Hussain is Research Fellow at Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi. He is a political-economist. Dr Hussain has been the alumni of International Visitors Leadership Programme.
16 May 2014Celebration of the 60th anniversary of establishing of diplomatic relations between Poland and India.
On this landmark occasion we are proud to present the film commemorating the 60th anniversary of our diplomatic ties directed by Mrs. Małgorzata Skiba.
Prof. Piotr Kłodkowski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of India outlines the most important areas of bilateral cooperation highlighted in the movie: “At present the pillars of our cooperation are very stable and well defined. Our shared interests in an energy sector, long-lasting military ties plus collaboration in a defence industry, no politically controversial bilateral issues, and last but not least: excellent cultural links and growing mutual artistic inspirations are our best assets in the process of strengthening our bilateral relations. As we mark this significant anniversary I am pleased to say that together we have made this relationship even stronger”.
Guftagoo with Maria Krzysztof Byrski (Part 1/2
…and I am Sid Harth