ALTHOUGH there are no Hong Kong companies currently trading with Poland, business opportunities abound in the country which, for many years, was locked away from foreign markets. Today, large firms including Fiat, Coca-Cola, Chase Enterprises and AT&T are vying for a slice of Poland's growing market which opened to international trade and commerce only recently. One of the booming areas in Poland's economy, which relies on foreign capital and could be attractive to Hong Kong investors, is the construction industry. It is estimated that, by 2000, the country's population will be needing more than 3.6 million apartments and in order to meet that demand more than 450,000 homes have to be built each year. While most building materials are obtained locally and supplied by 350 state firms, the high demand for processed building materials is forcing construction firms to import goods from foreign companies. The construction market is also becoming more competitive, with private ownership coming into vogue as more small firms start operating on their own. Another sector which will continue to grow over the next decade, providing an export outlet for Hong Kong businesses, is the tourism industry. Poland provides tourists with a link between the former Soviet Union and Europe. But it is not only the pretty countryside and numerous historical buildings, including the Wielicza Salt Mines and Krakow's Wawel Castle, that attract foreigners, it is the business opportunities that tourism offers. Prospects in the ever-expanding hotel and hospitality industry range from rent-a-car services to managing hotels and hostels, to printing guide books and maps. Although more than 30 million tourists visit Poland each year, with the majority from Germany, the former Soviet Union and other Baltic states, an infrastructure for the industry has yet to be established. Foreign expertise in establishing a long-term tourism strategy is also in demand. Tourism generates about US$4 billion a year in Poland - more than the amount generated from exports of agricultural products and coal. Growth possibilities in this sector led the European Commission to grant 4.5 million ECU (about $40 million) to the country to help finance a long-term tourism promotion and infrastructure development programme. With the country's rapid expansion in the manufacturing sector, foreign technology has also become important. Although Poland is rich in mineral resources and is a leader in metallurgical and chemical manufacturing, the country still relies on outdated methods of energy generation, including coal and lignite-fired power stations. To maintain growth in these fields, the country has to import expertise in such fields as hydro-electricity, electrical engineering and thermo-nuclear power. The manufacturing industry, although virtually dominated by state-run companies, does offer Hong Kong companies a chance to expand into a new market. Electrical goods and appliances are in great demand. There are only a handful of private companies in the manufacturing sector, most of which concentrate on handicrafts. However, the country's economic policy calls for restructuring and privatising the manufacturing industry to increase the competitiveness of Polish products on foreign markets. International banks, including Dutch giant ING, have already started moving into the Polish market to provide financing and to inject cash into joint-production companies. Foreign financial institutions are needed to supply co-financing for research and development projects and to extend loans and credit to domestic banks.