Miami was the site of the Polish American Leadership Summit: Investment Zone (Polish American Leadership Summit – PALS) – the most important event in Polish-American economic relations in the last few years. The three day program (9th 11th February) was very intense. Over 300 participants, nine discussion panels, networking and evening sessions, plus an award gala and the Polonaise Ball. On the top of it, a visit to Mar-a-Lago residence, referred to as Winter White House by Donald Trump. – This precious initiative has added an economic aspect to the Polish-American political relations – stated Andrzej Duda in a special, video message addressed to the participates. – The fact that the summit takes place in 2018, one hundred years after Poland has regained its independence, has symbolic value – he pointed out. – We named ourselves PALS, as it means friends. Every contracts begins with a relationship and a proper deal cannot be stricken without a good pal. That is why I believe that after this meeting more contracts will come to happen – said Michał M. Lisiecki, president of PMPG Polskie Media (publisher of, among others, „Wprost” weekly), organizer of the summit. Zbigniew Pisarski from the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, the content partner of the event, has emphasized that, after close political and military ties, the time has come to create economical bonds. – Poland has tremendous potential, especially due to the Polish diaspora that lives here. And that was palpable in behind-the-scenes, where Americans of Polish descent gave voice to the will to guide Polish entrepreneurs – said president Pisarski.
Power industry as the key to security
The main topics of the summit were economic affairs and questions connected with Polish and European safety. They often intertwined, as there has been a lot of talk about energy security.
Grzegorz Pytel, advisor for the board of LOTOS Group, talked about the challenges standing in front of Polish petrochemical companies, tasked with searching for oil and cooperating with the USA. – Poland is the 7th biggest economy in Europe, 20th in the world and we are one of the fastest growing countries in the region. For this growth we need fuel, which is why we want to cooperate with the US – said Pytel. LOTOS signed a deal last year for supply of American petroleum. The contract includes supplying by sea at least five cargos of oil. – It is the first fixed term contract for shipments of crude oil from the United States. Prior, we have also purchased this resource from Canada. We are constantly looking for new deposits and shipment locations, in order to ensure the energy security of our country, which we actually derive from our strategy. – continued Pytel. The notion that technology is supposed to be a platform for Polish-American cooperation, was expanded upon by Rafał Antczak, vice-president of PKO Bank Polski. – Poland has brilliantly educated employees, while the technologies are a natural link between us. One can see that there is political will to strengthen the economic relations. Now, we need to help these individual contracts and my hope is, our bank well be a part of that – said Antczak.
In search for start-ups
However, big business and multimillion energy contracts weren’t the only topics discussed. PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna was represented at the summit by two companies that comprise the Group: PGE Ventures and PGE Nowa Energia. The first invests capital in start-ups, while the second searches and accelerates projects in early stage development. – We invest in broadly defined electro-energy business; we look for start-ups that could benefit the optimization of PGE Group’s activities, while also increase our income and diversify its origins. USA, where most start-ups happen, is a place that we observe both in terms of possible co-investments and opportunities to promote Polish technologies – says Piotr Czak, the president of PGE Ventures. – Numerous small companies are interested in cooperation with PGE.
They often have interesting ideas, but need support in polishing up the details and pilot implementations, so that they could function well in a large corporation. Our role is to verify the project these start-ups present to us. Hence, we study how the market of acceleration, implementation and incorporating projects works in the US. Our trump card is the ability to perform acceleration at much lower cost here in Poland. Of course, we also focus on the technologies themselves says Tomasz Jarmicki, vice president of PGE Nowa Energia. Tomasz Szypuła, president of Ptak Warsaw Expo, the biggest trade-fair and conference center in Central Europe, was also present at the summit. – In the US, we can promote our innovations and entrepreneurship. We, in return, need buyers and contractors. We hope that some of the American providers would be interested in cooperation with Poland. We also show, that as Ptak Warsaw Expo, we are a gateway to all of Europe. Every business starts with trade fair, a notion that Americans understand very well – says president Szypuła.
Aside from the economics, politics was also discussed. The summit took place just after the Sejm has passed the novelization to the IPN bill. Many commentators claimed it would have a detrimental effect on Polish-American relations. However, in Miami a conviction this is only a temporary setback seemed to dominate. – One can say that the relations between USA and Poland were indeed marginally better a few weeks ago. But through this summit we change the narration, we talk about economic and that is a different topic – said Anna Maria Anders, secretary of state, Prime Minister’s Plenipotentiary for international dialogue. Meanwhile Corey Lewandowski, former chief of campaign for Donald Trump, claims that the Poland-USA political relations are best in years. – Today, Poland is stronger than ever. The destination of one of President Trump’s first visits was Warsaw, where he received a warm welcome. If we take into account the Polish declaration to allocate 2.5 percent of GDP for defense, we can foresee that these relations will only get stronger. I don’t see any crisis – Lewandowski summarized.
A specialist in Polish-Jewish relations, prof. Marek Chodakiewicz from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, appealed for calming of tensions. – It is a wise move for Poland to create a committee for mutual dialogue. This matter needs discussion, as both sides have their points and motives. We cannot undermine the transatlantic relations – he said and called for broader economic cooperation. – Americans have a saying: those who have the gold make the rules. The tie between money and power is very apparent. The wealthier Poland will be, the more influence it will have over current affairs – stated prof. Chodakiewicz.
Poland strategic on the map
The questions of Brexit, transatlantic alliance and relations with the EU were in turn addressed at Daniel Kawczynski, British deputy of Polish descent. In his view, The British did not wish to stay in the multinational entity that is EU. He doesn’t rule out the idea that one day Poland will follow suit. – If Poland is to keep its rapid growth, I foresee that in the next 10 years it will become a net payer to the European budget. When it will happened and when the Polish politicians become aware of how much money and power they will have to transfer to Brussels, there may come time for them to have the same vote – Kawczynski claimed. Meanwhile George Friedman, a guest of honor, has emphasized that in the Polish-American relations it is most important to build multilayer relations, in such a way that they not only revolve around defense or politics. – In every country that I visit I tell the politicians: you should visit more than just Washington. It is such a typical small town built as a haven for the politicians. That is why a meeting in Miami is so important. These relations with America need to happen on multiple levels and in many places. – Friedman explained to the guests at a farewell dinner, organized in Eden Rock hotel. During the gala on the first day of the summit, special awards were presented – Eagles of Freedom and Entrepreneurship. They were awarded to Anna Maria Anders, LOTOS Group, Blanka Rosenstiel, Polish honorary consul in Miami, Corey Lewandowski, former chief of campaign for Donald Trump, Jonny Daniels, president of From the Depths Foundation and Mar-a-Lago Club. g
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