Poland has entered into extensive economic cooperation with South Korea. This is a kind of expansion of relations beyond Western Europe and the United States. However, Poland should diversify its contacts in Asia and Australia in order to further reduce the monopoly of large players and Korea itself.
Asia has long been a high-tech continent. Japan, which is primarily associated with this area of the economy, de facto entered the canon of pop culture as its symbol. However, highly developed technological capabilities can be attributed to all Asian countries, which are called “Asian Tigers”. They are also trade powers, with eight of the world’s ten largest ports located in Asia. Six of them are Chinese ports, including the leader of the list: Shanghai which is constantly fighting for this title with the port of Singapore. Apart from building relations with Asia, Poland should also turn to Australia, wchich is a giant when it comes to IT services and energy resources. Poland has great potential in the IT sector, electromobility, transport and energy. Thanks to this, Warsaw and Cambera can complement each other and even carry out joint projects in the future. The fact that the main ally of both countries is the United States positively contributes to the possible process.
Japan, a technological counterweight to Korea
Tokyo has acknowledged the increasing cooperation between Poland and South Korea. Japan also wants to take part in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. Poland as a probable logistics hub of the whole project seems to have a key potential in this puzzle. Polish-Japanese projects involving local companies are already underway in Ukraine. This is evidenced by the signing of a letter of intent between Poland’s Hynfra, Japan’s Tsubame BHB Corporation and Ukraine’S UTEM. The letter concerns the construction of a green industrial zone in Bucha. The aim of this zone is to ensure energy independence through the use of renewable sources of energy, hydrogen and ammonia. Japan is also involved in the construction of small nuclear reactors in Poland. The BWRX-300 reactor, which Orlen and Synthos plan to build, is a product of the US-Japanese consortium General Electric Hitachi.
In March 2022, immediately after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Poland. During the meeting, he said that Tokyo included Warsaw in a Special Development Assistance Program. This is despite the fact that Poland is already classified as a developed economy and in theory is not among the countries in need of such assistance.
In February 2022, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi expressed his desire for defense cooperation between European countries, including Poland, and Japan. During his visit to Warsaw, Kisihida went a step further and expressed his desire for deeper cooperation in the fields of defense, telecommunications, cyberspace, semiconductors and space. Japan is one of the leading countries in the development of the above-mentioned economic segments. Deeper cooperation could also involve technology transfer to Poland and the possibility of developing Polish research centers.
Japan has recently opened up to Europe. The best example of this is its participation in the last two NATO summits and the possibility of opening an alliance liaison office in Tokyo. Poland in all this seems to be a safe haven to start wider cooperation with the countries of the European Union.
Australia – the Anglo-Saxon tycoon of rare earth metals and LNG
Australia is the Anglo-Saxon cousin of Poland’s two biggest allies – United States and Great Britain. These three countries form a strategic alliance called AUKUS. The association of the Anglo-Saxon states is aimed primarily at the increasingly expansive China. However, apart from military aspects, the members also want to invest in high-tech. This includes work on the construction of the semiconductor industry, artificial intelligence and quantum systems. Poland can be an attractive partner for Australia in this respect. Its human resources are becoming better educated and qualified, while investments are growing, including the jewel in the crown – Intel’s integration and testing plant near Wrocław.
In addition to developing the 4.0 industry, Australia has to offer primarily raw materials. Canberra is at the forefront of LNG exporters, which Poland buys in large quantities. Depending on the price the Australians would set, they could become the next strategic supplier of liquefied natural gas. It would be a diversification towards the currently dominant US-Qatar duopoly. This would strengthen Poland’s negotiating position on other LNG supply agreements.
Back to the high-tech industries. Australia has some of the world’s largest deposits of lithium and manganese. These raw materials are crucial in the development of electromobility. Poland is currently the world’s second largest producer of batteries for electric cars. Without these raw materials, the development of this promising industry may significantly slow down. The EU directive banning the purchase of internal combustion cars after 2035 reinforces the need for investment in this sector. When the demand for electric cars shoots up, it will be necessary to secure the supply of key raw materials for the production of the most important components. Otherwise, the prices for buying cars will increase unacceptably and the opportunity to buy them will be limited only to the richest.
Taiwan, a semiconductor giant in the great shadow of China
Taiwan is a very sensitive issue because of China. Beijing has threatened to impose sanctions on any country that establishes diplomatic relations with Taipei. A country that takes such a step has to take a lot of risks. As an economic power, China has a positive trade balance with most countries in the world. Especially for Poland, it is unfavorable. However, there are countries that have decided to stand up to the Middle Kingdom. The best example is Lithuania, which withdrew from the 16+1 agreement in 2021. In return, it received extensive cooperation with Taiwanese technology companies. Lithuanian companies received a license and in some sectors even technology transfers. Poland also has ambitions to expand its contacts and opportunities in the high-tech sector. Fast-developing IT and talented young people studying at Polish universities are a great asset for companies such as TSMC. Lithuania has taken a similar risk. This brought it measurable economic benefits in the form of investments by Taiwanese tech giants over the Nemunas River. However, the case of Poland cannot be compared to Lithuania. Warsaw is a lot more important internationally and has a bigger economic and trade potential than Vilnius, so it cannot take this course of action. The consequences of taking such a step could be much greater for Poland than for Lithuania. However, at the same time, one cannot give up cooperation with Taipei, which, first of all, in the field of semiconductors, could prove beneficial not only for the economy but also for Polish research and scientific centers.
NATO’s pivot to the Indo-Pacific
The countries of the North Atlantic alliance are increasingly active in the Indo-Pacific region. The last two NATO summits in Madrid and Vilnius hosted delegations from Tokyo, Seoul and Canberra.
During the “Talisman Sabre” exercises, which took place on the Antipodes, European countries such as France, Great Britain and Germany had the opportunity to practice in very exotic conditions with countries such as Japan, New Zealand, Fiji and South Korea. It was an invaluable testing ground for the soldiers themselves, and the states of the Old Continent had the opportunity to increase their presence in the region.
At the same time, Italy was preparing for joint air exercises with Japan. The Italians sent four F-35s.
Poland also has the potential to participate in such events. In February 2022, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi expressed his desire for defense cooperation between European countries, including Poland.
This would strengthen Poland’s geopolitical position and allow it to move beyond the European region. Such joint exercises can be a prelude to tightening broader economic cooperation. This also gives the opportunity to use the ports and logistics of this country in case Poland decided to send the Miecznik frigates, which are under construction, to this area in order to protect trade routes or military exercises in which Poland may take part in the future.
By entering into strategic cooperation with South Korea, Poland has opened wider doors to Asian markets. It focuses primarily on integrated circuits, artificial intelligence and electromobility. Asia seems to be the perfect balance between the United States and the European Union. First of all, the Asian countries will look at Poland from a business perspective, not just a geopolitical one. Therefore, it is more likely that Asian countries will decide to cooperate on technology transfer and other know-how. In the case of European countries or the United States, the likelihood of such broad cooperation is smaller. Of course, this does not mean that cooperation with these two entities should be limited. On the contrary, it should be strengthened, but at the same time Poland should diversify its directions of cooperation. Otherwise, dependence on one or both directions can lead to a weakening of our position in business and political conversations in the future.