After 25 years of political and socio-economic transformation, domestic market becomes too small for Polish companies. Many entrepreneurs reiterate that European markets are already very saturated in goods. Thus, without abandoning them, they are looking for the new ones, more distant, less known, but ready and giving a broad perspective. Companies in the Opole region, that plan their consecutive years of activity in this way, are supported by the Investors and Exporters Assistance Center, which thereby - as similar centers in the country - implements the system program of the Ministry of Economy at the regional level.
COIE activity is concentrated primarily on the investment and export supportive area. For those who want to attract foreign markets with their services or goods or to expand their existing export activity the Center currently employs two pro-export experts and one pro-business expert. They provide information services in the field of export. What's interesting - not only for entrepreneurs from the Opole province, but also from neighboring regions.
As mentioned in the Opole COIE, the forms of assistance mostly expected by exporters include providing a list of contacts of potential foreign partners; assistance in creating RFPs to foreign importers; providing information on the specifics of the foreign market in relation to the labor market, social security, market analysis, taxation, certification requirements or barriers in access to foreign markets. In addition, prospective exporters who resort for COIE assistance enjoy all kinds of free forms of promotion of the exporter’s offer or co-financed from the EU funds - like international trade fairs or trade missions that gain more and more popularity.
What to do to get COIE experts’ help? You need to send a request by e-mail (email@example.com), fax or mail and arrange a meeting at the headquarters of COIE. Opole Centre ensures that they will answer or contact you within a maximum of 10 working days.
Pro-export experts in Opole have a full range of tools for entrepreneurs to start or develop export activity. It can be mentioned the professional KOMPASS database available at COIE, which contains data of potential partners from abroad or the marketing database created for the purpose of identifying potential customers and services in selected international markets.
In addition, COIE experts offer their knowledge and information based on analyzes being at the disposal of the Opole Centre for Economic Development about industries and overseas markets prepared by ORBIS, EIU Country Data, EIU Markets Indicators & Forecasts; they communicate to interested parties statistics and marketing data on various countries, markets, sectors and companies; they provide brochures on foreign markets that constitute a compendium of knowledge developed by the Departments of Trade and Investment Promotion (DTIP).
Additional support of the Opole Investors and Exporters Assistance Centre for entrepreneurs interested in offering their goods and services abroad include: organization of conferences, business and information meetings concerning different issues, such as for example determinants of foreign markets (in 2014, such meetings were held for companies interested in Kazakh market, and at the end of 2014 it was planned a briefing about the Maghreb Countries). The Centre in Opole also helps in the purchase of specialized market analyzes, funded under the EU's support, and other materials.
It is also worth noting that since 2012, the Opole Investors and Exporters Assistance Centre organized dozens of pro-export briefings and numerous conferences approximating knowledge of distant foreign markets that for many companies in the region are still unknown. It should be mentioned such meetings as “China as export direction - conditions, experiences, perspectives” (2012); “Exports to Eastern markets - Russia, Belarus, Ukraine - as opportunity for the agri-food sector” (2012); “The export attractiveness of the Opole province” (2013); “Trade with China - opportunities, challenges, barriers” as a part of “China's New Development Prospect and Chance for Polish Entrepreneurs” (2013); “Prospects for export to North Africa - Algeria and Morocco” (2014) and Polish-Kazakh forum with the cooperative exchange under the “Incoming mission of entrepreneurs from Kazakhstan” (2014).
For example - a two-day Polish-Kazakh Forum and cooperative exchange in Opole in October 2014 were attended by 10 companies from Kazakhstan and 25 companies from the Opole region active in the construction, food processing, packaging and chemical industries. Opole and Kazakh companies were matched by industries, as there were also organized bilateral talks between entrepreneurs during the Forum. Kazakh business representatives also had the opportunity to visit several successful local companies and get to know the region and its capital.
Kazakhstan is a direction economically recommended by the Ministry of Economy as very promising, but also - as emphasized OEDC representatives during the Opole Forum – because many signals from interested companies were sent to this institution “from the area”, proceeding from the ranks. Therefore, October Polish-Kazakh Forum was another step toward opening the Kazakh market for Opole entrepreneurs.
Besides, in 2014, OEDC organized a visit of the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Opole region, which would allow establishing diplomatic relations and determining priorities for economic co-operation. Then, there were several meetings on cooperation with Kazakhstan, explaining questions concerning concessions, duties or visas and how to enter that market. At the beginning of September 2014, the representatives of the companies most interested in cooperation went on a trade mission to Kazakhstan, where they could learn local procedures, how the business is carried out there, what are the differences in culture and mentality. They had, inter alia, meetings with Kazakh Chamber of Customs, institutions that issue licenses and permits, representatives of the local Chamber of Commerce and lawyers who spoke about setting up business and legislation.
It is also worth mentioning one of the first meetings, organized with the view of exporters - entitled “China as export direction - conditions, experiences, perspectives”. Among the speakers at the conference were the First Counselor of Trade and Investment Department at the Polish Consulate General in Shanghai, who described the specificity of the Chinese market and offered support in negotiations to Opole companies. The speakers were also representatives of the Customs Chamber in Opole, Opole branch of the Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego and DHL Global Forwarding, who presented to the participants of the meeting details of the formal, legal, financial and logistical aspects of exports of goods and services to Far East markets. The event was addressed primarily to companies interested in establishing business relations with the Chinese business, the expansion or improvement of trade with China.
OEDC experts emphasize that entrepreneurs receiving support from Opole COIE are mainly small and medium-sized enterprises from the Opole province, but also from Lower Silesia and Silesia. They are primarily interested in gaining practical market information, in particular on exotic markets, directly from the embassies. Most of requests directed by exporters to the COIE in Opole concern the foreign inquiries or contacts to potential importers. Among the current queries of exporters about the foreign markets dominate inquiries about the EU and Eastern markets.
The analyses of Opole Economic Development Centre show that the leading export industry of the Opole province is the chemical industry. Opole region are exporting mainly organic chemicals and fertilizers. An example of an active exporter from the Opole region is the nitrogen plant Zakłady Azotowe SA in Kędzierzyn-Koźle, ranked among 100 largest Polish exporters. The other most significant exporting industries of the region are mineral fuels industry (including mineral fuels, bituminous substances, mineral waxes), engineering (including machinery, mechanical and electrical appliances, no rail vehicles) and agricultural and food sector (including preparations of cereals, flour, milk, breads, pastries and other food).