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Seminar V4 countries in Sydney

A Seminar organized by V4 countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) was held in Sydney on September 21, 2016. The Seminar focused mainly on trade and investment potential of V4 countries and on presenting the V4 region as an interesting tourist destination.

The main initiator of the Seminar called „V4 countries – reliable business partners and tourist destinations in Europe“  was Poland, that is also the current presiding V4 country. The Ambassadors of  V4 were the speakers at the Seminar (Mr. Pawel Milewski for Poland, Mr. Martin Pohl for the Czech Republic, Mr. Igor Bartho for Slovakia and Mr. Atilla Laszlo Gruber for Hungary) and also the Consuls General of the Czech Republic and Poland Ms.Hana Flanderová and Ms. Regina Jurkowská.

Present Ambassadors of V4 spoke to the audience about the history of V4, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and about their joint activities. The V4 countries can offer synergy in a number of  areas and could be also an interesting tourist destination for distant territories. The V4 countries are an important part of international organizations such as EU or NATO. The economies of all four countries are currently at a very good level, with rising GDP and low unemployment rate.

Among other important guests were also present Mr. Jonathan O´Dea, Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, Tourism and Major Events (NSW), Mr. Kevin Magee, Assistant Secretary, Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia), Ms. Elena Kirillova, State Director NSW/ACT, Austrade or Mr. Jason Collins, CEO EABC. Guests mentioned in their speeches Australian multiculturalism and diversity in particular, from which the Australian society has been profiting for years and to which are immigrants from Europe, including V4 countries, contributing. There are more than 600 multicultural organisations only in NSW. Europe is not only an important business partner for Australia, but is also the biggest investor in Australia. The planned FTA is therefore the priority for Australia, as well as cooperation on scientific research level and student mobility. Agriculture, food sector, energy, mining industry and mutual investments into infrastructure projects were all mentioned as a promising area for cooperation between Australia and V4 countries.

Mr. Grant Smith, director of Macquarie Fund, presented Australian  Fund´s investments in V4 countries, which are investments in the Polish port of Gdansk or acquisition of 100 percent of Slovak telecommunication company Towercom Inc. in particular. In the Czech Republic, Macquarie Fund is the owner of the Czech Radiocommunications, which provide services to the vast majority of Czech television and radio broadcasters, and also have an important stake in the company RWE Grid Holding, which covers the vast majority of gas distribution in the Czech Republic.

The joint chambers of Commerce were also present at the Seminar. The Czech-Australian chamber of Commerce was represented by its director, Mr. Vojtěch Helikar, who also mentioned activities of the foreign chamber CzechTrade in his presentation. Polish-Australian chamber of Commerce was represented by its director, Mr. Miroslaw Zarnowski. Hungary-Australian Chamber of Commerce announced resumption of activities.

Individual V4 countries presented their successful trade or business cases in Australia. Poland was represented by company Conbelts – producer of conveyor belts; Hungarian success was represented by ICT company LogMEin and Chocolate producer, company Chocolate5018; Slovak investments were introduced by CEO of the company Gratex, which specializes in software solution development. The successful story of Czech products on the Australian market was presented by the owner of the company HappyGoDucky, Mr. Vojtech Vorel, who has only started this year to import traditional handmade wooden, tin and crochet toys by several Czech toy companies.

The second part of the Seminar was dedicated to Travel and Tourism and presenting individual V4 countries as interesting tourist destinations. The Consul General of the Czech Republic in Sydney, Ms. Hana Flanderova, introduced the strategies to promote the Czech Republic as a Country of stories and presented the activities of the agency CzechTourism that deals with promoting the Czech Republic abroad. Czech Republic was also represented by the owner of the travel agency Check Us Out, Mr. Petr Mikeska that specializes in package tours from Australia to the Czech Republic. Slovakia was represented by Deputy Head of Mission & Consul of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Canberra, Ms. Lucia Langer, Hungary was introduced by Trade Commissioner of the Embassy of  Republic of  Hungary in Canberra, Mr. Tamas G. Deutsch and the owner of the agency Hungary My Love, Mr. Mihaly Molnar. The British film director, Mr. Simon Target, talked very engagingly about his travels around Poland.

After the Seminar, there was a tasting of the products of V4 countries. The guests had the opportunity to try Hungarian and Slovak wines, Polish spirit Zubrovka or Czech beer and Czech mineral water Mattoni and Strudel.

Event of a similar magnitude, that was organized and introduced at the same time by all V4 countries, was held in Australia for the first time. The reactions have been very positive and the Seminar has certainly contributed to making V4 countries more visible in Australia. Radio SBS World Service also informed about the event.