Restaurants have to be competitive
I refer to the article headlined, 'Polish palates show scant taste for Tianjin' (South China Morning Post, August 9), which requires clarification.
First, as far as visas to Poland are concerned, in the first half of this year more than 400 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in the Polish Embassy in Beijing alone. In addition Poland has consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou also issuing visas. Moreover, visas to Chinese nationals are issued by Polish consulates in the countries neighbouring Poland.
Secondly, I take issue with the claim in the article, that Poland does not place great emphasis on promoting trade with China. Poland is the biggest market in Central-Eastern Europe and that includes Chinese exports. In 1999, the total value of goods imported to Poland from the mainland equalled US$1.2 billion (about HK$9.6 billion). Besides direct imports which, according to Chinese statistics stood at US$860 million, Poland bought Chinese goods from other markets.
For the first six months of 2000, Poland imported Chinese US$408 million-worth of goods. This is an increase of 40 per cent compared to the first six months of 1999, while exports from Poland to the mainland amounted to only US$34 million (down 45 per cent).
This figure shows how advantageous for the Chinese side trade with Poland is. On the other hand - to our great disappointment - very few mainland or Hong Kong companies show an interest in Polish products.
Lastly, I do not want to go into details of the problems of running Chinese restaurants in Poland, in particular, those run by state-owned mainland companies, as Poland has had its own experiences with its state-owned companies in the past. It seems that for a restaurant to be successful in Warsaw it has to offer very good food and be really competitive. The number of restaurants offering attractive foreign cuisine keeps growing in Warsaw. Mediterranean, Arabic, Indian, Thai, Mexican and other restaurants depend for their success on the skills of the chef.
Consul-General of Poland