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Chairman & CEO Note

A Very Special Year

By Antoni F. Reczek OBE and Paweł Siwecki
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Antoni Reczek, chairman of the board, and Paweł Siwecki, CEO, look back at highlights of the BPCC's Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Anniversaries are by their nature times to be savoured, times when achievements are recalled and milestones set down for the future. But Jubilee or not, this was a busy year by any account, with much happening around Poland and in the UK.

We kicked off the year's celebrations on 24 January with the launch of the first edition of the Doing Business in Poland guide with the Institute of Export at the Polish Embassy in London. Two days later, we held the first Silver Jubilee event in Poland, the Burns Night supper with a special guest, Scottish MEP Alyn Smith.

In February, a group of BPCC members from the construction sector attended a meeting of the Polish parliamentary committee on Building Information Modelling, promoting the UK's best practice in implementing BIM.

In March, together with the 12 other bilateral chambers of commerce in Poland, we launched a major report at the Ministry of Economic Development (as the International Group of Chambers of Commerce), highlighting the contribution of foreign direct investment to Poland's economy over the past quarter of a century.

The Chamber's AGM took place at the British Embassy in Warsaw on 25 April. HMA Jonathan Knott addressed the members. Tony Reczek was re-elected Chairman of the Board, Provident's Mark Sutherland was elected Treasurer, and the Board welcomed a new member, Deloitte's Oliver Murphy.

In May, the International Group of Chambers of Commerce met with deputy prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki; representatives of the 13 international chambers in Poland were present, including BPCC patrons.

BSI Group became a BPCC Patron in June; together we will be promoting Kitemark and other BSI standards around Poland. Since then, BPCC events in Toruń, Gliwice, and Rzeszów have already been used to introduce BSI Group and the Kitemark to Polish manufacturers and exporters.

A major event promoting Poland as a hub for innovation took place that same month at the Polish Embassy in London, with Schneider Group, CBRE and AstraZeneca.

A special printed edition of Contact Magazine to mark the Chamber's Silver Jubilee was published in June; it contained nine exclusive interviews and 65 portraits of BPCC member companies. A total of 1,500 copies of this landmark edition were distributed. Additionally, four online issues of Contact appeared this year, focus on Poles in the UK (in February) - on HR and professional qualifications (in April); innovation and technology (in September), and this one, focused on energy and environment.

The social highlight of the summer proved to be this year's Queen's Birthday Party which unusually took place in July at the Łazienki palace in Warsaw. Antoni Reczek and a number of representatives of British investors met HRH Prince William during the Royal Couple's visit to Poland.

The BPCC was represented for the first time at the two Polish economic forums that bring together the nation's (and indeed the CEE region's) key decision makers – Krynica (6-7 September) and European Forum for New Ideas in Sopot (28-29 September). Earlier that month, Antoni Reczek represented the BPCC at the first meeting of Polish Entrepreneurship Council. He also represented the BPCC at both of the intergovernmental UK-Polish Belvedere Forum events held in Warsaw (March) and London (November).

A regular social highlight in Wrocław is the International Oktoberfest, held each year in September; this year's event once again attracted hundreds of business and local government representatives.

The BPCC sent a letter to deputy finance minister Paweł Gruza in September following member consultations regarding proposed changes to the tax law governing personal and corporate income tax. BPCC members' concerns led to the publication of the letter and a more detailed report to the Ministry of Finance.

Also in September, the BPCC Trade team supported the visit of an inbound UK mission to the Trako railway industry trade show in Gdańsk, one of Europe's largest events for the rail sector.

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh visited Kraków in October meeting the BPCC there, leading to a partnership with Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, and the signing of mutual cooperation agreement.

The culmination of our special year came with the Silver Jubilee Gala Dinner, which took place in October with both of our honorary presidents HMA Jonathan Knott and Polish Ambassador to Britain Arkady Rzegocki present, along with special guests: British-Polish historian Adam Zamoyski and BBC World News presenter, Kasia Madera.

UK trade minister Greg Hands visited Poland in November, and met with UK investors at the British Embassy to discuss Brexit and how it may affect bussineses. Later that month, the BPCC met the Northern Powerhouse multi-sector trade mission to Poland, with 16 British firms attending.

Issues taken up by the BPCC on behalf of its members in 2017 included the Sunday trade ban; corporate and personal income taxes (CIT and PIT), reverse VAT in construction sector; promotion of the Single Audit Tax File (JPK in Polish), dealing with new regulations on hospital networks, raising awareness of the General Data Protection Regulations (RODO in Polish).

The BPCC organised six meetings at factories across Poland as part of the Manufacturing Industries Group. We visited GKN Driveline in Oleśnica, Macopharma in Wrocław, CeDo in Kąty Wrocławskie; Twinings Tea in Swarzędz; Polaris Industries in Opole; and MacBraida in Rzeszów.

People: Kamila Borkowska joined the BPCC from the British Embassy in June to become head of business development, while Marta Chmielewska was promoted to policy groups manager in September. The BPCC's staff numbers are 16 people as of 1 December. This is broken down into Warsaw 12 people (including five in the Trade Team) with a further two in Kraków, covering Silesia, Małopolska and Podkarpacie, and two in Wrocław, covering Wielkopolska and Lower Silesia.

Trade: The BPCC entered fifth year of UK government's export support scheme. Each year, BPCC Trade has exceeded its targets set by Whitehall. In 2017-18, BPCC Trade is on track to do this again, in terms of UK exporters served, business opportunities communicated to UK exporters and business wins in the Polish market. Overall, despite Brexit uncertainty, bilateral trade between the UK and Poland is expected to exceed £13 billion.

Finally, for your 2018 calendar: our Annual Gala Dinner will be held on 18 October in Warsaw.

Last but certainly not least, we wish everyone a very enjoyable time with family and friends during Christmas!

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