Import / Export Management and Consulting Services
The Value Added Advantage:
The core advantage of Polish Business Consultants services is our extensive experience in dealing with the Polish Business sector. Access is available to skilled professionals, legal, financial and marketing experts, allowing a quick and effective response to your needs. Our staff can assist you in breaking through the web of bureaucratic entanglements and political frustration characteristic to Europe. The following list will give you some indication of the services we may provide you and our areas of expertise. Any questions please E-mail us.
Legal, Financial and Marketing Expertise Regarding Polish Operations
Business Alliances, Distribution, and Sales Leads
Legal information through our relationships with Polish law firms
Fee based research and information gathering regarding Poland
Locating investments opportunities
A thorough understanding of the economic and political environment in Poland
Commercial analysis and diagnosis including the cultural aspects of doing business in Poland, government stability and legal matters.
Market model ( analysis ) for particular products and forecasts for your company and the competition.
Assistance to develop your companies' export / import organizational structure, evaluation of your companies' export abilities / capabilities and pricing structure.
Negotiation assistance and personal representation.
Assistance in obtaining licenses and/or certificates in order for you to penetrate the Polish marketplace.
Links to international trade and information on Poland:
GENERAL INFORMATION ON POLAND
In January 1990, a new Customs Law came into force in Poland. This law defined and implemented the Harmonized Tariff System which reclassified products and ultimately formed the basis for new duty rates on imports. Tariff rates have changed several times since (and are still subject to change), and have proved to be a major frustration to U.S. companies actively involved in exports to Poland. In early 1993, a 6 percent import tax was added to the equation on all imports into Poland. Turnover taxes are no longer an issue, since the introduction of a general 22 percent value-added tax (VAT) on July 5, 1993. Significant excise taxes apply to certain products as well.
The March 1, 1992, enactment of the trade provisions within Poland's association agreement with the EU lowered or eliminated tariffs on many EU products imported into Poland, while tariffs on U.S. products remained the same. This immediately placed U.S. products in a less competitive and officially less preferential position than their EU competitors.
As a result of U.S. government negotiations, duty-free quotas, or zero duty quotas, have been applied within certain industries including the automotive, computer and pharmaceutical sectors in Poland. U.S. and foreign firms have benefited from these quotas. In some instances the quotas are targeted to products originating from specific export regions (e.g. cars from the EU), and in others they have been assessed to help protect local industry (e.g. pharmaceuticals), or to help develop industries (e.g. computer parts and components).
Government Procurement Practices
Legislation governing bid tendering procedures and government procurement is currently being drafted. There is evidence that the Polish government is striving to tender bids fairly and transparently, but the lack of clear legislation and resulting delays continue to frustrate U.S. business. Allegations of unfair play occasionally surface.
The Polish government approved a public procurement law in 1994. This law will apply in all cases where public money is used to procure commodities, services and construction works. The law's procurement procedures need not be followed in the case of purchases of less than $25,000.
Under the new law, the purchasing agency can request that the commodity to be purchased contains at least 50 percent Polish content. In the case of services, the use of Polish labor can be required. A public purchases office will oversee these activities and publish a bulletin listing public procurement opportunities. An open tender procedure will be used as the standard.
Openness to Foreign Investment
The government of Poland has often voiced its belief that foreign investment plays an important role in the modernization of the Polish economy and the rationalization of economic activity in accordance with market forces. Although Poland is not yet a member of the EU, an association agreement was signed in December 1991, and trade provisions of that agreement came into force in March 1992, with additional reductions in some tariff rates effective January 1995. The agreement is a step towards the ultimate goal of membership in the EU for Poland. It will build an industrial free-trade zone, harmonize legislation and develop economic cooperation on a wider basis. The EU provides Poland with models on which to base its legislative and regulatory reforms, and the agreement should improve the business climate for foreign investors.
Foreign investment in Poland is governed by the Foreign Investment Act of 1991, and subsequent amendments to the Act, which was intended to open the Polish economy to foreign investment and establish a level playing field between foreign and domestic investors. Most tax and other incentives contained in earlier legislation have since been repealed, although some incentives are still available for large scale investments in regions of high unemployment. Under the law, any level of foreign ownership - up to 100 percent - is allowed.
Intellectual Property Rights
Protection of intellectual property has been and continues to be a major concern for U.S. companies. It can be an obstacle to increased foreign investment in Poland. An amended law on trademarks and new copyright laws exists and will help, but enforcement of these laws will remain a key issue.
Poland's trademark law of 1985 was recently amended to impose punishments on those who illegally use registered trademarks in Poland. According to estimates, approximately 80 percent of clothing and 50 percent of coffee on the Polish market is sold under "pirated" trademarks. The former trademark law prohibited the placing of counterfeit trademarks on goods, but did not prevent people or companies from selling or distributing products with pirated trademarks. The law now provides for up to a year imprisonment or penalty for those who sell goods with counterfeit trademarks or place such trademarks on goods, and is expected to be an important step toward fighting trademark piracy.
A new copyright law came into force in June 1994. It is in line with international standards and is considered the first significant step towards the protection of intellectual property rights in Poland. The new copyright law introduces protection of not only literary, musical and graphic works, but also of computer software, audio-visual works and industrial patterns.
Since 1990, the U.S. has ranked between 10th and 15th on the list of Poland's largest import suppliers, between 2 and 3 percent of Poland's total market. In 1994, 28 percent of Polish imports originated in Germany. Italy and Russia were the next largest import suppliers with 8.4 percent and 6.8 percent of the Polish market respectively. U.S. agricultural exports account for about 11 percent of the total Polish agricultural import market, a jump from 2 percent in 1991. Meanwhile, services account for more than 20 percent of total Polish imports, though Poland is running a trade surplus in services (mostly to Central and Eastern Europe).
There is tremendous unrealized demand for Western goods in Poland which creates ample opportunity for a broad range of exports by large, medium-sized and small American producers. Local production in most best prospect export categories is generally low, though more firms start up new manufacturing operations each year. However, U.S. exporters across-the-board face strong competition from European producers. In certain sectors, such as computers and consumer electronics, competition from companies in Asia and Southeast Asia is also a factor.
Poland's domestic industry is developing slowly and is still at a stage where U.S. companies can assist with its development. For the foreseeable future, Poland will be a net importer of manufactured goods, particularly those that will help it develop and generate exports.
European governments eagerly aid their industries. Britain's export credit guarantee agency raised Poland from its riskiest country rating in 1994, thus providing coverage at more favorable rates. The Dutch export agency increased its short-term cover for Poland; and France, like Britain, raised Poland's rating. As a result, financing EU exports to Poland is now easier, as in the U.S., where ExIm Bank provides financing.
Given Poland's geographic location, its association and trade agreements and financing options available to EU exporters, U.S. exporters must be aggressive, flexible and prepared to waive short-term profits for long-term gains to establish their presence in Poland.
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