– The reconstruction of Ukraine hasn’t started yet, but Polish companies are already establishing strategic partnerships and earning huge profits – says Jadwiga Emilewicz, Deputy Minister for Funds and Regional Policy in an interview with BiznesAlert.pl.
BiznesAlert.pl: When it comes to rebuilding Ukraine, in what sectors do Polish companies want to operate?
Jadwiga Emilewicz: There are many companies from different sectors that want to invest in Ukraine, but in the first economic missions that I organized, companies from the construction industry stood out. They want to build new roads, bridges, as well as rebuild public and residential buildings. Some have already started implementing projects, for instance Mirbud, which builds roads, or Unibep, which is expanding the Medyka-Szegin border crossing.
Recently, the desire to engage in the reconstruction of Ukraine has also been expressed by architects. We are currently preparing for another business mission with architectural companies. We also have meetings with developers. For example, one of the Polish architectural offices recently completed the construction of a hotel in a prestigious location in Lviv. Our mission will go to Kyiv, but we also plan to visit Kharkov, where a year ago we declared our desire to rebuild this city.
In addition to construction companies, the water and sewerage industry is also involved in the reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine. We had a good online meeting between Polish businesses that implement the largest municipal projects and the Ukrainian Deputy Minister for Infrastructure Mr. Butenko. The representatives of the sector also participated in the economic mission in Kyiv.
In addition, the interior finishing industry is also interested in cooperation with Poland, and please remember that we are a global tycoon in this segment. Some of the Polish companies are already operating in the Ukrainian market. Barlinek, Cersanit and Fakro have production facilities in Ukraine. Add to that Polish exporters of finishing products, who want to strengthen cooperation, because the demand for our goods is very high.
Have specific agreements already been signed?
During each economic mission, business meetings are held during which partnerships are established, but they are not implemented with public funds. Representatives of my office participate in meetings in Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk, where local authorities are interested in cooperation with Polish businesses.
Currently, we are at the stage of familiarizing ourselves with the terms of the tender, but most public contracts have not yet begun and are rather of an interventional nature, like the tender for a water treatment system in Mykolaiv, where a Polish company signed a contract and supplied such systems.
The process of rebuilding Ukraine has not yet begun.
How did the dispute over grain affect the Polish-Ukrainian talks in the context of the reconstruction of Ukraine?
Two months after this conflict started, there was practically no trace of tension in business talks. At the height of the greatest tension, I organized the Polish-Ukrainian reconstruction Forum in Poznań, where many CEOs of Ukrainian companies were concerned about the rhetoric of President Zelensky and hoped that this dispute would be quickly resolved.
Ukrainian businesses greatly appreciate the partnership with our companies. Even at the height of the greatest diplomatic tension, I did not feel that it had any impact on business relations.
Interestingly, the dispute was also not felt in the administrative sphere. Moreover, on Thursday a delegation of 30 officials from the Ukrainian Ministry of Regional Development, who are preparing for accession talks with the European Union, have ended their visit to Poland. Our ministry co-organized this training.
Polish-Ukrainian relations are doing well at all levels and I am optimistic about them in the future. Regardless of the change of government on Poland’s political scene, there is a consensus that an independent Ukraine is a strategic goal of our diplomacy, as it is the guarantor of our security.
What is the potential of cooperation between Poland and Ukraine in the energy sector?
The potential is really wide. The data confirm that energy exports from Poland to Ukraine tripled last year. We have become Ukraine’s second global trade partner, which shows that we can primarily benefit from mutual partnership.
On the other hand, strengthening Ukraine’s relations with the European market will of course be a challenge for our agricultural, food and transport sectors. However, please note that the Ukrainian market is very absorbtive and we should take advantage of this opportunity.
Our cooperation in the energy sector has clearly strengthened since the outbreak of the war. The participation of PSE (Poland’s grid operator – ed.) in supporting and maintaining electricity networks in Ukraine last year was invaluable. The export of energy after the explosion of the dam in Nowa Kakhovka kept the local system in continuous operation.
Thanks to the Khmelnitsky power plant, we are integrated into the Ukrainian electricity system, but the auction system is not yet fully synchronized. Electricity production in Ukraine, which will enter the Polish system will be subject to European regulations, and this will be a great challenge.
In addition, Ukraine for many years will not be powered with gas from Russia. Gaz-System is ready to expand its capacity to connect Ukraine with gas pipelines in order to delivergas from the Norwegian shelf to Ukraine. The potential for cooperation in the energy sector is enormous.
Interview by Jacek Perzyński