Poland wants wider cooperation with PHL before 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations

By ROY C. MABASA

WARSAW – Poland plans to further expand its partnership and cooperation with the Philippines in time for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in September 2023.

Polish Undersecretary for Asia and the Pacific Barbara Szymanowska said the reopening of global borders in the wake of the pandemic could trigger what she described as “low-level but growing mutual trade and economic opportunities. constant” between Warsaw and Manila.

“I really believe that right now we are back on track and we will continue to have more traditional cooperation,” Szymanowska told Filipino reporters visiting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) office here.

Poland, she said, is not just optimistic, but also sees “room for improvement” in relations since both sides “have a lot to offer each other”.

A fact sheet provided by the ministry showed that trade relations between Poland and the Philippines grew by more than 120% in the past five years, from $397.6 million in 2016 to $877.85 million. dollars in 2021.

Besides trade, Szymanowska sees a potential expansion of bilateral cooperation in the political, interpersonal and educational fields.

Next year’s golden anniversary of diplomatic relations highlights the reopening of the Polish Embassy in Manila in 2018 and the recent establishment of an economic office within the Chancellery to further stimulate future business cooperation .

POLITICS

While China, South Korea, Australia, Japan and India are among Poland’s “biggest partners”, Szymanowska admitted that Southeast Asia, or ASEAN whose Philippines is a key member, is equally vital, “being one of the most dynamic countries”. » regions of the world.

Recently, a group of Polish lawmakers initiated the creation of the Poland-Philippines Parliamentary Association, a group aimed at fostering strong political ties between the two countries.

“For us and for our parliament, cooperation with ASEAN is very important. We believe that we can cooperate with all countries in the region. From our point of view, it is a complementary cooperation. We are not in competition with each other,” said Szymanowska, who once served as Poland’s ambassador to Vietnam.

PEOPLE TO PEOPLE

With the two-year restriction severely affecting the tourism industry around the world, Szymanowska said Europeans, including Polish nationals, are currently looking forward to visiting the Philippines again.

Before the outbreak of the pandemic, a total of 16,572 Polish nationals visited the Philippines in 2019. This figure increased by at least 6% compared to 15,564 in 2018.

“The pandemic has changed everything. Your country was one of those with the highest position in terms of tourist interest,” she noted.

As for Filipino professionals seeking employment opportunities, in Poland, the diplomat said her government is monitoring the rise in their arrivals by creating a visa outsourcing system in 2021 “so that more Filipinos can have the chance to work and live in our country.”

From January 2021 to April 2022, the Polish Embassy in Manila issued a total of 2,808 work visas for Filipinos, including those seeking seasonal work. More than 1,400 of these Filipino workers are employed here at a large chemical complex.

“If we have to compare with other countries, we cannot say that there is a huge interest. In this area, there is probably a chance for cooperation,” she said.

EDUCATION

Poland boasts of its high-quality education system as it encourages young Filipino students to pursue higher education in the fields of science, mathematics, information technology, and medicine, among others.

“I really believe that our universities offer good levels of studies. We have a long tradition. I truly believe that older universities are better universities. They provide a high level education. Definitely worth promoting,” Szymanowska said.

In the 2022 education ranking, Poland is in 23rd place, while a previous study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked the Polish education system 5th in Europe and 11th in the world. world.

Despite the high level of her education, Szymanowska said Poland is definitely one of the cheapest in Europe in terms of cost of living.

Among the top-ranked Polish universities are the University of Warsaw, Jagiellonian University (founded in 1364) in Krakow, and Warsaw University of Technology.

MILITARY COOPERATION

As the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gains momentum under the Duterte administration, the Department of National Defense has signed two separate contracts with PZL Mielec, the Polish company that manufactures the Black Hawk S-70i helicopters .

In November 2021, PZL Mielec completed the delivery of the 15 Black Hawk helicopters while 32 additional units were ordered under the US$624 million contract signed by the Philippine government with the Polish company in February 2022.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana visited Warsaw in November 2021 to attend Poland’s National Day celebration at the invitation of President Andrzej Duda.

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