Poland extends gas contract with Norway

Polish Oil and Gas Company (PGNiG) has extended a gas contract with Norway for an indefinite period, under which the Polish company will continue to import gas from Norway via Germany, Polish News Agency reported on Wednesday.

First signed in 1999, the contract agreed that PGNiG could buy 0.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Norway's Statoil company annually for five years.

Up to now, PGNiG has bought 2.6 billion cubic meters of gas from Norway, according to the company.

Source: Xinhua

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JP Morgan buys 3.12 pct of Poland's insurer PZU

JP Morgan said on Wednesday it had purchased 2.7 million shares in Poland's top insurer PZU from Manchester Securities Corporation.

JP Morgan did not disclose in its statement what it paid for the 3.12 percent stake.

"JP Morgan is purchasing the shares as part of its market-making activities in central and Eastern European equities," the statement said.

Consolidated net profit of PZU, subject of a battle for control between the government and Dutch-based Eureko, jumped 20 percent in the first quarter of the year to 1.37 billion zlotys

($444.6 million).

The treasury has been engaged in a legal battle over PZU with Eureko since 1999, delaying a possible public offering of its shares. The government holds a 55 percent stake in PZU.

Unlisted Eureko owns more than 30 percent of PZU, central Europe's largest insurer.

Last year an international arbitration court found that Poland had broken an international treaty by failing to sell Eureko an additional stake in PZU, as promised in the original sale. The government has appealed the decision.


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Poland eyes trade opportunities in UP

“The presence of a large number of small and medium enterprises in Uttar Pradesh offers tremendous scope for not only technology transfer arrangements between Polish and Indian entrepreneurs, but also provides ample scope for trade opportunities between the two countries”, Wlodzimierz Madziar, second secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Poland in India (Division of Trade & Investment Promotion) told Hindustan Times.

Madziar was in Lucknow to attend a seminar on ‘Indo-Polish Trade Promotion’ organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ASOCHAM), UP, on Thursday.

“Poland’s manufacturing strength lies in diverse sectors such as food processing, meat processing, automotive parts, defence equipment and aviation. We would like to invite UP entrepreneurs to set up manufacturing bases not only in Poland but also in other parts of the European Union”, he said.

Madziar said that the Polish Embassy in India had been convincing Polish entrepreneurs back home to take advantage of the booming Indian economy and set up manufacturing bases in India.

“Uttar Pradesh has a large agricultural base and the Polish entrepreneurs could explore export opportunities for farm equipment in the State. There is ample scope for even exporting automotive parts to Indian manufacturers from Poland at competitive prices as the global automotive market is dominated by multinational players in most countries”, he said.

Another major advantage for UP entrepreneurs to export a wide variety of products to Poland was the stability of Euro in the global currency markets, Madziar said.

The major advantage for UP’s exporters in the European Union was a common customs tariff and commercial policy in all 25 member states. Besides, there was no requirement of customs clearance for transferring goods from Poland to other member states of the European Union, he added.

Source:Hindustan Times

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Poland in talks with Norway on gas pipeline

Przemyslaw Wipler, chief of the ministry's energy supply unit, said a decision on whether Poland would join a consortium which is to build a gas pipeline from Norway to Sweden and further on to Poland is to be taken during the next few months, the Polish news agency reported.

Wipler said Norway's state-owned pipeline operator Gassco had offered the Polish Mining and Gas company (PGNiG) a place in the consortium.

"The government is for PGNiG's joining the consortium," Wipler said.

Poland heavily depends on energy imports from Russia. But the east European country has recently expressed grave concerns over a pipeline from Russia to Germany being built under the Baltic Sea. Warsaw strongly opposes the pipeline because it will bypass Poland.


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Polish economy ministry says Poland still against Baltic Sea NEGP gas pipeline

"As far as we are able to say we are still against this project, which we consider to create a threat for energy security not only for Poland but also for the entire CEE," Director for Energy Supply Diversification Przemyslaw Wipler said at a seminar organized by Polish sector monthly Nowy Przemysl.

The Polish government has long criticized the construction of the NEGP, which Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said was a threat to Polish energy security almost as soon as he took office in the fall of 2005. The NEGP is a joint-venture between German E.ON Ruhrgas and Russian Gazprom, and both companies have been criticized by Poland and the Baltic states for bilaterally negotiating the pipeline, which could impact the energy security of the entire EU.

Poland and the Baltic states have also pointed out that the NEGP will offer the opportunity for Russia to reroute gas intended for Western Europe around Poland, Belarus and Ukraine.

This could be a danger for Poland and the Baltic states if another gas dispute should erupt similar to the New Year's Eve Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute, which resulted in Gazprom cutting off gas to Ukraine, which resulted in gas reductions to a number of other EU countries, including Poland.

In May Marcinkiewicz and representatives of the Polish Economy Ministry said Poland had no interest in participating in the program, but instead will concentrate on diversifying gas supplies through other sources, including LNG possibilities as well as a theoretical Norwegian-Swedish gas pipeline that could eventually supply Poland with Norwegian gas.

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Bridgestone Confirms Poland Tire Plant

(Akron/Tire Review) Bridgestone Corp. has confirmed that its European subsidiary, Bridgestone Europe NV/SA, will build a radial truck and bus tire plant in Poland.

Bridgestone said it has earmarked some 200 million euros for the project.

Construction on the new plant, to be located in Zachodniopomorskie province, will begin in the first half of 2007, and live production should start in the first half of 2009, with an initial capacity of 5,000 units per day, said Bridgestone.
Source: Tire Review Online

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Philippines, Poland to forge defense cooperation agreement

The Philippines and Poland are eyeing to forge a defense cooperation agreement that may result in the exchange of information, technology and a joint venture to manufacture small arms and ammunition, defense officials said on Monday.

At the same time, Warsaw offered Manila a 140-million-dollar credit facility for the purchase of defense equipment including helicopters, officials announced during Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski's courtesy call to Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz in Camp Aguinaldo.

"Our decision to extend a credit facility to the Philippines is our sign of confidence in the Philippine economy," Sikorski told reporters, adding that the credit would be used by the Philippine military, police and anti-narcotics agencies to buy Polish equipment.

"We want to enter into a defense cooperation agreement that explores many areas," Cruz said.

He said the defense cooperation between the two countries could cover exchange of visits and intelligence information.

Sikorski arrived in the Philippines on Sunday afternoon. He is the first Polish defense minister to visit the country.


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Peter Mandelson argues for economic reform in Europe

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has told an audience in Warsaw Poland that the EU must face up to the challenge of economic reform and "take the difficult first steps down the path to sustainable prosperity or we face inevitable decline".

Mandelson argued that the case for reform in Europe had been given new urgency by the increasing integration of the global economy and Europe’s Eastward enlargement.

Faced with new competition, old European structures and practices need to undergo change. He argued that governments must defend the benefits of change rather than indulge public anxiety: "fear of the Polish plumber and of the Chinese textile worker are essentially two sides of the same psychological coin" he argued.

On tackling fear of change and embracing its challenges: "People know that globalisation brings more choice and cheaper goods but they also fear the changes it implies. In parts of our continent, the fear of the Polish plumber and of the Chinese textile worker are essentially two sides of the same psychological coin.

Both globalisation and enlargement – which is globalisation in our backyard – increase the pressure for Europe to face up to change. Either we chose openness and take the difficult first steps down the path to sustainable prosperity or we face inevitable decline".

On the need for governments to embrace reform and to invest more in the knowledge and skills needed to maintain and extend Europe’s competitive lead: "Europe needs to reach for greater innovation, more flexibility in our labour markets, stronger investment in skills and education and a continuous shift towards higher value goods and services. We need to reach out to those affected by economic change to help with adjustment before they in turn reach out for the simplistic, anti-foreigner, political solutions of protectionism".

On the fears of EU enlargement, and the evidence of the benefits enlargement has brought: "Two years after our most recent expansion, the evidence in favour of enlargement is clearly starting to speak for itself. A wave of investment, not a wave of economic migrants. A race to the top in Europe rather than social dumping. New markets not black markets".

On Europe’s openness and Russia and Ukraine: "Openness in Europe has had a powerful effect in drawing in and shaping the values of its neighbours… Europe will achieve nothing by megaphone diplomacy with Russia.

Nor should we expect to preach and be listened to But Europe’s growing market and values of openness will remain a powerful incentive for continued change in Russia so long as we preserve them.

We will be in no position to lecture Russia about openness if we are hiding behind national protectionism. Partnership must be built on non-discrimination, transparency and mutual benefit".
Source: www.fibre2fashion.com

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Decision in Eureko vs. Poland case in a month

In one month’s time at the latest, the decision will be made in the conflict between Eureko insurer and the government of Poland. The Dutch insurer may get EUR 1.5 billion of compensation.
The Ministry of the Treasure accused one of the arbitrary judges, Stephen Schwebel, that he was not impartial. The suit was filed just after the tribunal decided at the end of 2005 that the Polish government had broken the agreement to protect investment when it refused to sell Eureko 21 percent stake in PZU. According to Polish officials, the judge failed to reveal that he was connected with a lawyers’ office representing U.S. Cargill, which is also in court dispute with Poland and demands a high compensation. This is a very serious accusation as the 80-year-old Stephen Schwebel, professor of Harvard and Cambridge, is very respectable.

Stephen Schwebel denied the alleged connection with the Cargill case. The judge said that within 30 days he would send his decision to all parties concerned. Eureko is not worried.

“We are happy that the decision will be so quick. This is a sign that in one month at the very latest the arbitrary proceedings will be ended”, Michal Nastula, Eureko Polska CEO said.

The Ministry of the Treasure is cautious.

“It is too early to comment. We must ask our advisors”, Pawel Szalamacha, the deputy Minister of the Treasury said.

Source:Puls Biznesu

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Poland's plans for public-administration cuts could be unrealistic, analysts say

Finance Minister Zyta Gilowska has called for layoffs amounting to 10% of the total public-administration headcount, or 17,000 government employees as of 2007, daily "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported Friday.

The cuts would be achieved through a streamlining of the work at public-administration offices, cabinet spokesman, Konrad Ciesiolkiewicz, is quoted saying by the newspaper.

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Free Tele-Communications to and from Poland

The Polish people have found that they can make free telephone calls to any location in the world using the Voice Over Internet Protocol. And in particular they found that the Skype system is the best system for them to use.

The Polish people are the third largest users in the world of the Skype telephone system.

This system is the choice of the Polish people because of its flexibility and ease of use. Is it is their opinion that it is easy to download, easy to install and easy to use.

The use of the Voice Over Internet Protocol is having a great impact on the telecommunications providers in Poland. Historically the international telephone rates charged to the Polish people have been very high. And because of that, the Polish people always looked for alternatives to the telephone systems that were provided first soley by the state and then privately.

At one time the call back telephone systems were very popular and several companies sold call back in Poland. Now the Voice Over Internet Protocol Systems have replaced the call back systems. And the Skype system is the most popular system in Poland.

At one time the Polish government tried to limit the call back systems because of the impact that they were having on the local revenues to the state-owned telephone company. It would seem that as the system such as Skype becomes more and more popular in Europe and starts impacting telephone bills and revenues all over Europe, that countries and for the European Union will step in an attempt to regulate or tax the use of Voice Over Internet Protocol.

But until such time that that happens, the Polish people will use the Skype system more and more. And the revenues to the telephone companies will drop more and more.


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KBC sells 5.5 pct stake in Poland's Kredyt Bank for 59.6 mln eur

Belgian financial group KBC SA sold 5.5 pct of its stake in Poland's Kredyt Bank for 59.6 mln eur, the company said.

KBC Bank is selling the stake in order to comply with a request from the National Bank of Poland to restore Kredyt Bank's free float to 20 pct.

The 5.5 pct stake was sold to Sofina SA, a European investment company based in Brussels, which participates in other listed and unlisted companies through long-term investments.

As a result of the recent capital increases in Kredyt Bank, which were fully underwritten by KBC Bank, KBC's stake in Kredyt Bank increased to 85.5 pct.

The group added it had no intention to further reduce its stake in Kredyt Bank.

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Visa plan should be extended to Poland COMMENTARY FRED GEDRICH

MANY Americans are focused on the Senate immigration bill’s controversial provisions that may grant a form of amnesty and a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico.

However, there is also an important but overlooked component of the legislation that may enable Poland and several other anti-terror democratic allies in “New” Europe to become probationary participants in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

While there is cause for jubilation in Poland and elsewhere over it, our friends should be mindful that the legislation still must clear difficult hurdles in Congress before being enacted into law. Its survival depends on favorable outcomes in expectedly tough House/Senate Conference deliberations, where vastly different immigration bills must be reconciled and votes taken by the House and Senate on the final bill coming out of conference.

As discussed in a Feb. 13 Times Leader opinion piece titled “U.S. should extend visa courtesy to Poles,” the prime purpose of this 20-year-old program is to foster better relations with allies and to eliminate the need for U.S. consular officers to evaluate substantial numbers of visa applicants from friendly countries. The United States currently extends this courtesy to 27 nations, including all Western European countries.

Poland has unsuccessfully sought entry into the VWP ever since Lech Walesa’s Solidarity successfully led the movement to free Central and Eastern Europe from communist domination in 1990. From a historical and contemporary geopolitical perspective, one would be hard-pressed to find a better U.S. ally and friend. Brave Poles stood with the U.S. during the Revolutionary and Cold wars. And today, Polish troops patrol alongside their American friends in Iraq.

Poles have contributed greatly in constructing and shaping our country. An estimated 9 million Americans of Polish descent call the United States home today. They, and their proud ancestors who came to America in three major immigration waves, worked mines, built towns and cities, and became influential members of American society and government. About 824,000 Polish Americans reside in Pennsylvania, many of them in the Wyoming Valley. Quite a few wonder why U.S. legislators have yet to extend the visa courtesy to their 39 million Polish cousins.

Sen. Rick Santorum, the Senate Republican Conference Chairman, has been attempting to rectify this situation. After trying to get Poland into the program last year, through collaboration with Sen. Barbara Mikulski, he reworked the stalled legislation to include several other European countries and piggy-backed an amendment onto the immigration bill with co-sponsor support from the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senator Mikulski.

Santorum’s strategy is to have the VWP amendment survive the conference as he works to defeat other elements of the controversial bill, like the quasi-amnesty provision, which he opposes. The process may seem unwieldy and confusing, but it’s typically the way Congress works.

The previous Senate effort to bring Poland into the VWP was blocked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein who believed that the country did not meet program requirements because U.S. consular officers reject about one-third of Poland’s estimated 150,000 annual visa applications. Santorum classifies the majority of these rejections as “arbitrary determinations of embassy bureaucrats.”

The amendment will allow European “anti-terror” allies, such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to become pilot program participants in the VWP while ensuring there is no compromise of national security. After appropriate approval from the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security in consultation with the Secretary of State, residents of these countries would enjoy the same privilege the United States confers on residents of other VWP countries like France and Germany in being able to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without going through the rigorous, expensive and uncertain proposition of obtaining a U.S. visa. Probationary participants will be given two years to come into full compliance with program requirements.

Republican and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate will soon appoint conferees to iron out differences in the immigration bills passed by each chamber of Congress. For the VWP provision to survive conference, it may need some sympathetic legislators.

While Congress wrestles with the question of making it possible for 11 million illegal immigrants to become legal U.S. residents, it should recognize the wisdom and fairness of allowing citizens of some key U.S. “anti-terror” allies from Europe, like Poland, to visit our country for only 90 days. U.S. legislators have a golden opportunity to demonstrate that we truly appreciate their friendship. Let’s hope they do.

Fred Gedrich is an Avoca native and Wilkes College graduate. He is also a foreign policy and national security analyst, a former U.S. State Department official, and a contributing author to “War Footing.”

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EU Trade Official Hopes for Swift Talks

The European Union's trade commissioner said Friday he hopes trilateral talks on Russia's months-long ban on meat from Poland will open with a "minimum of delay."

Peter Mandelson, on a two-day visit to Poland, said he wanted to help Poland to resolve its dispute with Russia quickly because it was also affecting the wider EU. Poland has been a member of the bloc since 2004.

He said the EU has proposed trilateral talks and is awaiting an answer from Warsaw and Moscow.

"I hope they will agree," Mandelson told reporters. "If so, I think this can be organized with a minimum of delay."

In November, Moscow imposed a ban on imports of meat and some other foods from Poland, saying they were substandard.

Commentators in Poland viewed the ban as retaliation for Warsaw's stance in Ukraine's presidential elections in 2004, in which it supported pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko against Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovych.

Mandelson met in Warsaw with Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga, Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak and other officials.


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