Polish chemicals appeal to limit imports from outside the EU

Luc Williams

Protection of the Polish and European markets against external competition and further foreign expansion of Polish companies – these are the main topics discussed during the panel discussion.

Tomasz Zieliński, president of the Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry and member of the supervisory board of Orlen / Press materials

In the opinion of Tomasz Zieliński, president of the Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry and member of the supervisory board of Orlen, decisive actions are needed to tighten the rules regarding imports.

– The current regulations are like a colander, everything you want enters the European market. Community market regulations do not inhibit imports and do not protect Polish and European producers – said Tomasz Zieliński, giving as an example “green” products from China, the actual carbon footprint of which no one is able to reliably verify, which means that one must rely only on the declarative values ​​presented by the Chinese.

In his opinion, a revision of the CBAM regulation is needed (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism) as well as the creation of legal tools to support anti-dumping activities.

– The new version of the CBAM regulation should be supplemented with additional products and should cover goods not only from Asia, i.e. China or India, but also from the Middle East and the USA – noted Tomasz Zieliński, adding that price dumping in the case of some products from outside The EU reaches 30-40 percent, and in selected cases even 50 percent. He called these practices “hostile market takeover.”

Wiesław Hałucha, president of Alventa, also spoke about the huge threat that cheaper goods from Asia pose to the domestic chemical industry. As he emphasized, the company he manages has as much as 80 percent it sells on foreign markets where it competes, among others: with much less cost-intensive Chinese production.

– We face a huge challenge: to jump into the Industry 5.0 economy, i.e. industrial robotization, as quickly as possible. So as to neutralize differences resulting from unit labor costs. However, the question arises: will we, as Europeans, have time to wait for this revolution before we become an industrial open-air museum? – asked the president, adding that this is the crux of the discussion about the future of the chemical industry.

During the panel, the issue of preparing the Polish Chemistry Manifesto was also discussed – a document that will indicate the most important problems and needs of the industry as well as recommendations for further actions at the level of both national and EU administration. The document is scheduled to be published in early June.

In the context of the necessary actions by Brussels, Tomasz Zieliński appealed to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to introduce legislative solutions that would effectively secure the EU market.

– We must introduce tools to protect our market and prohibit unfair practices. This also applies to entities that brazenly bypass sanctions on goods from Russia and Belarus and spoil the European market, he appealed.

The Polish chemical industry also has great hopes for further foreign expansion. An example of a company that wants to grow globally is CIECH. An element of the company's internationalization strategy will be to change its name – from June, the company will operate under the name Qemetica. According to Marcin Puziak, CFO of the company, the rebranding is to symbolize the global plans of the chemical tycoon.

– The last three years have taught us that diversification and going beyond Europe makes sense. What happened during this time – COVID-19, disruption of supply chains, energy crisis, change in the direction of the flow of raw materials, their rising prices – shows that diversification is necessary, he said. – We looked at other regions and we can see that Europe is not the most attractive market, so – although we are not withdrawing from Europe – we want to implement the vision of our owner and we want to be a global player – he pointed out.

In turn, Jacek Bartmiński, Deputy Minister of State Assets, assessed that the future of companies controlled or co-controlled by the State Treasury depends on what will happen on the European and global markets.

– State-owned companies will follow where the market flows. We will try to support them with economic policy in a way that does not spoil the market or worsen the situation of private entities, but on the other hand, that State Treasury companies are stable and operate in a predictable manner – assured the deputy minister. He added that companies such as Grupa Azoty and Anwil are intended to serve Poland and our economy primarily as a stabilizer and guarantor of food security.

At the end of the discussion, Tomasz Zieliński again raised the issue of the too free flow of chemical products from Eastern Europe or China to Europe.
– European producers are reducing their production capacity by several or a dozen percent because the market is overloaded with cheaper products. We can improve our efficiency, we can reduce the unit cost, but in the end it will turn out that the supplier from China will dump the price anyway – he pointed out.


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