Celebrating its 20-year anniversary in 2015, the Polish-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce is the biggest chamber of commerce in Poland. Michael Kern, Managing Director and Member of the Board, discusses the chamber’s current activities and future priorities.
European Times: What are the main activities of the chamber?
Michael Kern: Our key competence is based on the fact that we are both the German-Polish and Polish-German Chamber of Commerce, which means that we assist German companies entering the Polish market, as well as, Polish companies entering the German market. Our main office is in Warsaw, but we also have regional offices in Poznan, Wroclaw, Katowice, and in Munich. Poland has grown as a market and is consistently capturing the interest of German companies. Our services attract not only German partners, but also Polish entrepreneurs who seek for their place on the German market.
European Times: How does the chamber encourage trade between Poland and Germany?
Michael Kern: Encouraging trade between Poland and Germany is being achieved through our multidimensional approach. Firstly, we advise Polish and German companies on finding the right partner and on setting up their business. Furthermore, we provide our partners with professional market research that helps finding an appropriate business partner. We also support our members who showcase their goods and services on trade fairs in both countries. The second part is our membership service. Currently we have around 1,000 companies affiliated within the chamber, mostly from Poland and several from Germany. The main benefit of the membership is exchanging experience, know-how and information, which is done through conference meetings, networking meetings, symposiums etc. The third part of our activities is taking care of entrepreneurship surroundings in the countries. In this regard, we conduct surveys among our members and we establish committees where companies gather together for discussions which are a unique platform for sharing their statements. Becoming a member is a simple procedure which requires only filling out a form. Nevertheless, our applicants must satisfy certain standards, such as being active in Germany or in Poland, and having a clear track record.
European Times: What are your future plans and priorities?
Michael Kern: Our priority is to expand our coverage on the entire territory of Poland, as well as to increase awareness among companies that we are a bilateral chamber. Currently, we are working on several projects, one of them is the trade fair in Hanover where Poland is a partner country. Our main aim will be to connect Polish start-ups, especially from the technology sector, to German companies.
European Times: What are the chamber’s sources of funding?
Michael Kern: We have three sources of funding: membership fees; service fees we receive from German and Polish companies; and funding from the German Ministry of Economic Affairs for assisting German companies abroad. It is important to mention that the chamber is a part of the international network of AHK (The German Chambers of Commerce Abroad), which is present in over 90 countries, with more than 130 offices all over the world. Through this network, we can assist Polish companies to enter markets not only in Germany, but also in other parts of the globe.
European Times: What is your private message?
Michael Kern: The investments of German companies in Poland and Polish companies in Germany intensify the bilateral bonds between both countries and boost both economies. That is why the German-Polish Chamber of Industry and Commerce remains dedicated to encouraging the bilateral trade and supporting neighbouring investors in both Germany and Poland.