China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) is a modern day recreation of the old Silk Road and an ambitious attempt to create a series of trade routes, both land, and maritime routes, to and from China.
Similar to the ancient Silk Road, the BRI connects Asia, Africa and Europe in a series of trade routes with the modern rendition utilising various shipping and train routes to reach other countries. As of 2019, 71 countries joined the BRI, including prominent European Union (EU) countries, such as Italy, Portugal, and Poland.
Poland and China celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations in 2019 which are bolstered by continued cooperation through the BRI with Poland signing an MOU regarding BRI in 2015. Poland’s second-largest source of imports is China and in 2018 Sino-Polish trade reached $33.47 billion, an increase of 13.3% from the previous year, with Polish exports estimated at $2.5 billion and Chinese exports at an estimated $30.97 billion.
In this cooperation, China exports mobile phones, textiles, computers, and toys to Poland who, in return, export copper, mechanical equipment, cosmetics, and agricultural products. Additionally, there are currently more than 800 Chinese companies operating in Poland, including, Guangxi Liugong Group, Huawei, and the Bank of China.
Poland is located in a strategic area, and shares its borders with seven countries, including Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia, and more, making it a gateway to being an important trading hub in the future with all neighbouring countries.
This is accomplished through the increased number of China-Europe freight trains passing through Poland to get to other EU countries. These railway systems improve the efficiency of cross-border trade, which Poland is now able to utilise.
For example, the Spedcont terminal in Poland sees around 50 trains travelling to and from China each month, an amount which may grow in the future as it has in the past.
In the future, China’s investment in Poland is focused on high-tech projects. Research and development (R&D) is a large sector of investment focus with capital coming from TCL corporation, Huawei, and the owners of the TikTok app, ByteDance.
TCL also set up an R&D centre in Poland in 2018. Polish Deputy Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology, Tadeusz Koscinski, encouraged more companies to follow TCL’s example and set up R&D centres in Poland as Koscinski believes it will be beneficial for the country.