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Poland To Help Moldova On The Way To Europe

In late October 2003, Alexandr Kwasniewski, the President of Poland, paid an official visit to the Republic of Moldova. The Polish head of state arrived in Moldova accompanied by a group of high-ranking officials and businessmen. Within the framework of his visit President Kwasniewski had discussions with Vladimir Voronin, President of Moldova, Vasile Tarlev, Prime-Minister of Moldova, Moldovan MPs and also participated in the Economic Forum entitled “Poland-Moldova”.

At the press conference of the two heads of state the President of Poland began his speech with the words: “I have not been to your country for six years and I am sincerely glad about our meeting. The relations between our countries are based on friendship of many years' standing. There is also much similarity in the way our countries have developed in the past century…”.

The main issues discussed by the presidents included further expansion of trade and economic relations as well as the two countries' cooperation in the process of joining the European Union (EU). Both issues are definitely of considerable importance to our country since Moldova should take any chance to develop its foreign economic ties and accept any assistance on the way of its integration to the united Europe.

For getting Moldova and Poland closer to each other Vladimir Voronin came forward with an initiative to grant preferential visa regulations to Moldovan and Polish citizens. In particular, Moldovan President proposed that visas for the citizens of Poland coming to Moldova should be abolished and gratuitous visas for Moldovan citizens wishing to visit Poland should be introduced.

The official visit of the President of Poland took place within the framework of a forthcoming entry of Poland into the EU. In this context, Alexandr Kwasniewski stated that Poland was ready to render all-round support to Moldova in its effort to join the EU. He expressed his confidence that after his country's entry into the European Union relations between Moldova and Poland would come into a new phase and a solid basis for their further development would be created. Moreover, Alexandr Kwasniewski considers that Poland's membership and Moldova's goal to connect its future with the united Europe of the 21 st century open new vast possibilities to both countries. The Polish head of state also said that his country was ready to finance the establishment of a special office in Chisinau whose specialists would help Moldova with the issues of European integration. It is important to note that Poland and EU signed an Agreement on Association (known in Poland as the “European Agreement”) in December 1991. It took Poland 13 years to get a status of a full member. To achieve that Poland had to actively implement market reforms, raise competitive capacity of the national economy and living standards of the Poles. Thus, the Polish experience could be of considerable value to Moldova.

As far as the aspects of bilateral cooperation are concerned, it should be mentioned that mutual trade between Poland and Moldova achieved a considerable growth in the past years. According to official data provided by the Trade Department with the Moldovan Ministry of Economy, the trade turnover between both countries reached 26.7 million dollars in the first eight months of this year. In other words, it increased two-fold compared with the same period of 2002. Exports of Moldovan goods to Poland rose 2.5-fold and imports from Poland rose by 89.2%. At the same time if we take into consideration trade disbalance we will see that it is rather negative for Moldova. For example, the total volume of Moldovan exports to Poland reached about 2.3 million dollars whereas imports from Poland exceeded 21 million dollars. So the conclusion is that Moldova has a negative balance of trade with Poland to the amount of 21.7 million dollars. It should also be emphasized that the exports from Poland include over 500 commodity items. The number of Polish companies cooperating with Moldovan ones has doubled in the past years. The list of Moldovan goods exported to Poland includes only 50 commodity items.

The issue of further expansion of trade and economic ties between Poland and Moldova was actively discussed in the course of the Economic Forum, which took place within the framework of the official visit of the Polish president to Moldova. Krzysztof Kristowski, Deputy Minister of Economy and Labor of Poland, stated at the Forum that the Polish economy would not concentrate on Western markets after getting a status of the EU member. According to him Poland's EU membership could be advantageous to Moldova. The fact is that Polish customs tariffs for non-EU countries are much higher than those for Western European states. But as soon as Poland becomes a member of the unified Europe, the reduction of the degree of protection of the domestic market for goods from the third countries, including Moldova, will start.

However, Veaceslav Afanasiev, Deputy Minister of Economy of Moldova, considers that at the moment it is extremely important that a lot of efforts should be made to solve two main problems. One is the negative balance of Moldovan trade with Poland. The other is limited diversification of Moldovan goods on the Polish market.

By Vlada Popushoi

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