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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 209,563 187,670 176,300 24
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 5,270 4,570 4,230 71
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 119 - (30/04/07)

The new Polish government is firmly pro-US, even though country after country in Europe is turning against it. Poland will keep its forces in Iraq for now, the third largest contingent there, despite a third Polish soldier dying in April.

The clincher is the missile shield that Washington wants to station in Poland, that is causing a serious rupture with Moscow naturally, who, for all the protestations to the contrary, regard it as directed against them.

Bush in Warsaw in June
The President of the United States will visit the Czech Republic in June, 4-5th and Poland June 8th for negotiations on Washington's missile shield plans, the local media have said. 
George Bush will travel to these Central European nations to discuss deployment of a radar facility in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland as part of the American missile shield designed to counter possible attacks from Iran and North Korea. 

The Czech government decided on March 28 to start the negotiations with the United States over the issue. Preparations for Bush's visit were discussed at an April 20 meeting between Czech Foreign Minister Karl Schwarzenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, the Czech news agency CTK said. 

At the meeting, Rice told Schwarzenberg that the U.S. was also conducting bilateral talks over the missile shield with Poland, NATO and Russia. 

Bush will fly to Poland after attending a summit of the world's leading industrial nations, the Group of Eight, in Germany June 6-8. Poland's Rzeczpospolita newspaper said the American leader would meet with President Lech Kaczynski in his residence on the Baltic Sea coast to discuss the conditions on which elements on the U.S. missile defence system could be deployed in Poland. 

Moscow has been strongly opposed to the U.S. plans, saying they would threaten Russia's security and destroy the strategic balance of forces in Europe. President Vladimir Putin has promised Russia would revise its military strategy. 

Following a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer moved to allay Russia's anxiety and said the placement of the U.S. missile shield would not change the strategic balance because Washington proposed to deploy only ten missile interceptors. 

Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, head of the U.S. Missile Defence Agency, said Tuesday that Washington was ready to allow Russian experts to inspect the likely missile site in Poland to show that it posed no threat to Moscow. 

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates will visit Moscow and Warsaw next week, and Secretary of State Rice will be in Russia in May. Czech President Vaclav Klaus is expected in Russia April 26-29 at the invitation of President Putin, the Kremlin press service said on April 20. 

New ice age with Russia
An "ice period" is beginning in Poland's relations with Russia, a senior Polish official said on April 22 after EU and Russian representatives failed to agree a deal on ending a ban on Polish meat imports. 

Russia imposed an embargo on Polish meat in November 2005 claiming that meat from third countries was being imported under the cover of Polish produce, which failed to meet health standards. 

The issue of lifting the Russian embargo on Polish meat imports topped the agenda of the talks between EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev that started in the Cypriot resort city of Limassol April 21. A source close to the negotiations confirmed to RIA Novosti April 22 that the talks yielded no results. 

Commenting on the reports about the failed EU-Russia negotiations, Deputy Prime Minister of Poland Roman Giertych said this was a bad signal. 
"This means that Russia firmly stands on its position, which contradicts the Russia-EU accord. This means that we are already entering a period of "icy" rather than "cold" bilateral relations," the vice-premier said. 

At the same time, Polish Vice-Premier and Agriculture Minister Andrzej Lepper said Russia's refusal to lift the ban was politically motivated. 
"It is obvious that this is still a political problem and even more political than before," he said, meaning Poland's consent to discuss the U.S. plans to deploy a missile base in the country as part of a missile defence system in Central Europe, and also energy issues. 

Last November, EU newcomer Poland vetoed talks on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Moscow and Brussels to replace the current pact, which expires in late 2007, over the Russian ban on meat and other agricultural imports from Poland. Moscow cited health concerns, but Warsaw said the move was political. 

Relations between Russia and Poland, a former Communist Bloc country that joined the EU in May 2004, have deteriorated dramatically in the past few years. 
A string of recent diplomatic spats has increased mutual distrust between the two neighbours, prompting many politicians in Warsaw to conclude that the Kremlin is using the embargo on Polish imports as a political weapon. 
The European Commission has said there were no grounds for an embargo on Polish products, but has admitted that Poland made deviations from European regulations on meat exports.

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The following is an editorial on the subject by Perspective, 
www.Bangkokpost.com

Missile shield strategic mistake 
The United States' plan to deploy a missile defence system in Europe is predictably provoking a strong reaction from Russia, particularly because of the inclusion of the Czech Republic and Poland in the scheme. 

Russian leaders have said that the system would destroy the balance of strategic nuclear power and that they would be forced to respond by also deploying new missile systems. These reportedly would include offensive weapons which would be harder to shoot down, or designed to "fool" the US system, as well as their own defensive systems. 

One of Russia's prime concerns is allegedly that if the US has the power to knock out Russia's missiles it might be more prone to launching a first strike. The US has repeatedly said that the purpose of the shield is to eliminate any nuclear warheads which might be aimed at American shores or its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies from rogue states, presumably Iran, and not from Russia (or China). 

Talks are ongoing between Nato and Russia to try to allay the Kremlin's fears. On Wednesday Nato secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer reiterated that the European system would not affect the strategic balance or threaten Russia. 

The Nato chief is probably right in that assessment, at least as the missile defence system stands at this point. Currently Poland and the Czech Republic are the only two European nations to have officially signed off on the system, which calls for 10 interceptor missiles in Poland with an associated radar system housed in the Czech Republic. The plans to shield the continental US are more extensive and advanced, but still not sufficient to make much of a dent in nullifying any large-scale nuclear offensive from Russia, which, like the US, has thousands of nuclear warheads. 

Yet the missile defence system almost surely will in fact destroy the strategic stability that has helped to prevent a show of arms between the two nuclear superpowers, regardless of whether it does much to actually diminish Russia's capabilities. It's not likely that Russian president Vladimir Putin or his successor will be persuaded to give up plans to counter the missile defence system, and this goes for the Chinese leadership as well. There is little doubt that Washington would prepare a similar response if the shoe were on the other foot. Thus a new arms race is almost inevitable. 

In any case, the system has already sealed the fate of nuclear arms reduction for the foreseeable future. In May 2002, the US and Russia agreed to a major mutual nuclear arms reduction under the framework of the 1993 Strategic Arms Limitation (SALT) II agreement, which provided for both countries to reduce nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds, to around 2,000 warheads each. In June 2002, the US unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), signed between the US and the former Soviet Union, so that it could develop the missile defence system, which the ABM prohibited. Russia then pulled out of SALT II. 

Moreover, there are a number of questions about the capabilities of the system to actually knock missiles out of the sky. Tests have been few and results less than mediocre up to now, and it has been proposed that such a system would be relatively easy to outwit, even by Iran or North Korea. When one weighs the potential benefits against the negatives, uncertainties and staggering cost of such a system, it is hard to see why Washington is so intent to go through with the plan. 

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ENERGY

PKN Orlen eyeing neighbours' gas market

Polish fuel monopoly, PKN Orlen, is now eyeing a larger share of the gasoline distribution market in the neighbouring Baltic States, local reports and Hemscott said, quoting the company's deputy CEO responsible for sales, Wojciech Heydel. In Lithuania, Lukoil has 120 petrol stations, and Statoil and Neste have several dozen filling stations each, while PKN Orlen's Mazeikiu refinery only has 27 petrol stations, New Europe reported. 
"Mazeikiu has 90 per cent of the gross fuel trade and only 1.5 per cent of the retail market. The market is not saturated, so the network may be developed," Heydel was quoted as saying. He divulged his company's aim to secure 15-20 per cent of the fuel pipe with the target date being set at 2012. "We will intensively study this option," Heydel added. PKN Orlen also wants to develop in Latvia, where the Scandinavians and Russians already have a presence, but Mazeikiu does not, Puls Biznesu said. Heydel said PKN Orlen wants to increase its share of the north German market to 10 per cent from seven per cent, expanding its petrol station network to 700 from the current 523. Of the 523, 30 more unprofitable stations would be closed, it was reported. In the Czech Republic, PKN's Unipetrol has a subsidiary, Benzina, which is taking part in the tender to buy Esso filling stations. It currently has 11.5 per cent of the Czech market, and is aiming to have 15 per cent. Heydel said if it is possible to buy petrol stations, it might even expand to 20 per cent. 

Mitsui, J-Power to invest US$85m in wind power project 

Japan's second largest trading company, Mitsui & Co, and J-Power, also known as Electric Power Development Co, plan to invest in 10 billion yen (US$85 million) in 48-megawatt wind power project in Poland, BBJ reported. 
The two companies would each take a 45 per cent stake in a company set up to develop the project in northern Poland, the Japanese trader said in statement. Swiss developer WFL Windfarmer AG would take the remaining 10 per cent stake, Mitsui said. The three companies would invest a combined two billion yen (US$17 million) in equity, the statement said. The project would start generating power from February 2008, with full operations scheduled in July 2008, Mitsui said, adding that the companies would sell all the power generated to Koncern Energetyczny Energia SA.

FX Energy adds new kutno concession in Poland

FX Energy Inc has announced it has recently acquired a new concession in central Poland covering 284,000 acres. The area encompasses a Rotliegend mega-structure with an estimated aerial extent of between 100 and 150 square kilometres (25,000 to 37,000 acres). Depth of the structure is estimated at approximately 6,000 metres (19,200 feet). The amplitude of the structure is interpreted to be at least 150 metres (480 feet). "We are excited to have been granted this important high potential, high risk opportunity which builds further upon our unique position in Poland," said Richard Hardman, director and senior technical advisor to FX Energy in a statement, New Europe reported. 
"The Kutno prospect is a major structure, defined by 2-D seismic, and is one of a series of very interesting opportunities we have been pursuing in Poland." In September of 1979 the Polish Oil and Gas Company initiated drilling of the Kutno structure with a planned depth of 6,100 metres. After almost four years of drilling and mechanical difficulties with inferior equipment, the well was abandoned in 1983 at a depth of 5,966 meters approximately 150 metres from the objective. FX Energy holds a land position of 250,000 acres around its Wilga discovery and over three million acres in western Poland's Permian Basin. The Permian Basin's gas-bearing Rotliegend sandstone is a direct analog to the Southern Gas Basin offshore England, and represents a largely untapped potentially significant gas resource.

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FOOD & DRINK

Carrefour to start promoting organic food in Poland

The French supermarket chain, Carrefour Group, will shortly start promoting organic food in Polish supermarkets by installing dedicated stands, Fresh Plaza reported. 
The company has said it would look to educate consumers at first since organic food is more expensive than traditional. According to the management of Carrefour Poland, combining all the organic products in one place in the supermarket would help consumers notice it and the price difference - between traditional and organic product - would be less visible this way. The market for organic food in Poland is currently estimated at 50 million Euro. But, according to specialists, its value should rise to at least 500 million Euro in the next 10 years. At the beginning, Carrefour Poland entered into an agreement with "Polish Ecology Association," an organisation of about 30 Polish producers and processors of organic food. According Polish Ecology Association President Liliana Lehler-Rychel, some of the supermarket networks (like Polish chains Alma or Peter and Paul) already show interest in organic food, "because consumers ask for this kind of products more frequently and they are willing to pay more for it."

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Google to open operations centre in Wroclaw

The California-based Internet search company, Google, recently announced plans to open an operation centre in Wroclaw later this year. The new centre will create 200 jobs and boost the city's efforts to become a technology hub, BBJ reported. 
The company said it would open the "centre of innovation" in Wroclaw in the coming months and begin hiring workers immediately, according to BBJ. 
Officials in Wroclaw, one of Poland's most economically dynamic cities, welcomed Google's decision. "With Google, we can practically be attractive for any large company that is in the innovation sector, because they always go in herds," said Pawel Panczyj, who heads an office that promotes foreign investment in Wroclaw. 
Wroclaw has already attracted a number of foreign investors in recent years, including Hewlett-Packard Co, General Electric Co, Siemens AG and Nokia Corp, it was reported. Google said it chose the city for reasons that include "the availability of highly qualified graduates, the country's economic stability and strong infrastructure," according to BBJ. Google is already operating a research and development centre in Krakow. That site would work closely with the Wroclaw centre, Panczyj was cited as saying.

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TOURISM

Foreign tourists last year spend US$7.1 billion in Poland 

Foreign tourists spent more than US$7.1 billion in Poland in 2006, of which those who stayed more than one-day accounted for US$3.4 billion and those of one-day tourists accounted for US$3.7 billion, according to the initial data of the Poland's Institute of Tourism published, New Europe reported.
The average spending of tourists has been growing since 2004 when the total hard currency income earned from tourists amounted to US$5.78 billion while in 2005 it was US$6.1 billion, the data revealed. In 2006 Poland hosted 15.7 million tourists (in 2005 - 15.2 million and in 2004 - 14.3 million). The Institute estimates that in 2010 the number of tourists would go up to 18.7 million.

 

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