POLAND and Hongkong look set to forge closer ties after a year spent setting up initial contacts between the two sides. The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland is just completing its first year in Hongkong, a year in which both sides have learned a lot about each other. ''We have always had a very good embassy infrastructure in the Asian region, but for many reasons Poland was not previously represented here in Hongkong, and it was an unknown place for us,'' said the Mr Krzysztof Ciebien, Consul-in-Charge at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland. ''The Asia-Pacific region is very important from the political, economic and financial point of view, and opening the Consulate General in Hongkong completed our presence in the region.'' Mr Ciebien said that Poland considered Hongkong to be most important as far as finance banking and management were concerned, particularly after the reforms and introduction of a market economy in Poland three years ago. ''The reforms have changed the mentality of the people and now they are very interested in foreign capital and foreign business.'' Mr Ciebien, who previously served in the Polish Embassy in Beijing, spent much of his first year establishing connections with Hongkong's businessmen, institutions such as the Hongkong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and the media, and providing them with information about Poland. In the second half of 1992, delegations of Polish businessmen began arriving, and Mr Ciebien is optimistic that some Polish companies and banks will open offices, or representative offices, in the near future. The Polish Minister and Vice-minister for Economic Relations, and the Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs have also visited Hongkong, and the Minister for Industry and Trade has taken part in a seminar about business co-operation and investment in western Poland. While in Hongkong, the Minister met the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, and both sides expressed a willingness to improve economic and trade relations. As a result, Hongkong passport holders are now permitted to stay for 14 days in Poland without a visa, instead of seven. Mr Ciebien said he hoped to hold seminars to introduce other parts of Poland to Hongkong businessmen, and to convince people to come and see for themselves that Poland had a good infrastructure, good telecommunications and good management. ''We don't want to be given money; we want to create an environment for good business opportunities. We want people to come, see, become acquainted, and make their own decision.'' He said Poland was the only country among the new-born democracies in Eastern Europe that had enjoyed positive economic growth last year. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by two per cent, industrial growth by between two and four per cent, and foreign trade totalled US$600 million. ''The economic situation is getting better and better, and the political situation is stable. ''Although there is a difference of opinion between the political parties, they hold a common view about carrying out the reforms.'' Mr Ciebien said that Poland was trying to improve its laws to attract foreign investment. He explained that Polish law did not treat foreign investors differently from Poles, although they did get tax advantages. There are also plans for mass privatisation with the aim of letting the people become shareholders. Privatisation offers a good chance for foreigners to buy into Polish business, either through joint ventures or by buying enterprises outright. ''Some Hongkong companies are looking for chances to invest in real estate, textiles, electronics and the tourist industry, but there is still a lack of information among Hongkong's businessmen. ''They are still examining the position and are not ready to make the final decision,'' said Mr Ciebien. He said the consulate could help with a list of Polish joint-venture partners but, although Hongkong was important, Polish companies tended to look for partners in Europe.