Poland hop­ing to em­u­late Trump’s busi­ness acu­men

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Poland hopes to woo Don­ald Trump the busi­ness­man with new in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in east­ern Europe when the US pres­i­dent pays a whis­tle-stop trip to War­saw on Thurs­day en route for a G20 sum­mit in neigh­bor­ing Ger­many. Amid transat­lantic ten­sions over trade, se­cu­rity and cli­mate change, Poland’s right-wing, euroscep­tic gov­ern­ment wants to put the fo­cus firmly on im­prov­ing busi­ness ties be­tween the United States and ex-com­mu­nist cen­tral and east­ern Europe.

Trump, a wealthy busi­ness­man, will at­tend a gath­er­ing of the ‘Three Seas’ ini­tia­tive, launched jointly by Poland and Croa­tia last year, which aims to bol­ster trade, en­ergy ties and in­fra­struc­ture along a north­south axis stretch­ing from the Baltic states down to the Balkans. The three seas are the Baltic, the Adri­atic and Black Sea.

Some Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials are skep­ti­cal about the project, which they see as an at­tempt by Poland - at log­ger­heads with Brus­sels on a range of is­sues - to build a lead­er­ship role in a re­gion that in­cludes the EU’s poor­est mem­ber states. Trump, who has also clashed with the EU on a range of is­sues, is ex­pected to pro­mote US nat­u­ral gas ex­ports in his ad­dress to about 10 lead­ers at­tend­ing from across a re­gion that is keen to re­duce its heavy re­liance on Rus­sian en­ergy. Poland, the largest econ­omy in the ex-com­mu­nist re­gion, re­ceived its first ship­ment of US liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG) last month at its Baltic port of Swinou­j­scie.

Gas Cor­ri­dor project

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Poland’s state pipe­line op­er­a­tor GAZ-Sys­tem said the Three Seas sum­mit could give a boost to its North-South Gas Cor­ri­dor project, which aims to di­ver­sify gas sup­plies away from Moscow. “Po­lit­i­cal sup­port is ex­tremely im­por­tant for such projects, it helps with their timely de­liv­ery,” To­masz Stepien told Reuters, adding that this could also help Poland tap EU funds if Brus­sels deems the cor­ri­dor a pri­or­ity.

The North-South Gas Cor­ri­dor, ex­pected to be com­pleted in the next two-three years, will help send gas sup­plied from the LNG ter­mi­nal in Swinou­j­scie and also from a planned Baltic pipe­line through Poland, the Czech Repub­lic, Slo­vakia and Hun­gary to a new LNG ter­mi­nal in Croa­tia. Un­til now the re­gion’s main trade routes have tended to run from east to west rather than north to south, partly re­flect­ing Ger­many’s eco­nomic dom­i­nance - but that is start­ing to change. —Reuters

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