• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland



  • 14 December 2017

    Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski is travelling to Houston this weekend, where he will inaugurate a new Polish Consulate General and hold talks with local government officials and American business leaders. The minister is also due to visit the LNG terminal from which gas shipments are dispatched to Poland.

    On Wednesday, the foreign ministry’s press office told PAP about the programme of Mr Waszczykowski’s visit, which begins this Friday and ends on Monday.

    According to the foreign ministry’s press release, the visit’s main aims are to inaugurate a Polish Consulate General, and to hold talks with local government officials and American business leaders. Moreover, the minister will stop at the Sabine Pass terminal, from which the first LNG shipment was dispatched to  Swinoujscie LNG terminal last June. In Houston, Poland’s top diplomat will be accompanied by PGNiG President Piotr Woźniak.

    As the foreign ministry points out, Houston and the state of Texas are a heartland of US economy. The city is dubbed ‘the global energy hub’, especially in oil and natural gas extraction, and it spearheads the development of biomedical and aerospace industries. With a GDP of USD 1.6 trillion (equivalent to the 10th largest global economy), Texas is second only to California in the United States in terms of size of its economy. Among all the states, it is also Poland’s main commercial partner with a trade volume of USD 857 million. Recent years have seen the value of Polish exports to Texas more than double. The key Polish export are electronic devices.

    The more pronounced role of energy in Poland-US relations, including the first LNG shipment from the Sabine Pass terminal, and the PGNiG’s five-year contract on gas deliveries also contribute to deeper cooperation with Texas, stresses the ministry. “Poland is the first country of the region to import American LNG; we hope to become the hub for US gas deliveries in Central and Eastern Europe,” reads the ministry’s press release.

    LNG shipments from the US strengthen the region’s energy security, make it less dependent on the dominant supplier, and benefit the economies of Poland and the US. “We expect further US engagement in opposing the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and in supporting the North-South Corridor and its Baltic Pipe project as measures to diversify the supplies,” announced the foreign ministry.

    During his visit, Minister Waszczykowski will meet with local Polish community. The Houston consular district is home to around 550,000 Poles and people of Polish origin; they account for 7 percent of the entire Polish diaspora in the US (totalling over 8 million people). Texas alone has an estimated 228,000 people of Polish descent, with Polish settlement in the state going back to the mid-19th century. It is estimated that up to 50,000 Polish-born people live in Houston.

    As the foreign ministry points out, the Polish community in Texas is well educated and affluent. Many Polish Americans are linked to the extraction and oil industries. Polish scholars do research at the universities in Houston and Austin. A large number of physicians have outstanding achievements working at medical facilities, including Houston Methodist Hospital, the biggest cardiological hospital in the US, and MD Anderson, one of the leading cancer treatment and research centres.

    According to the foreign ministry, the Houston visit follows up on Minister Waszczykowski’s declaration, made in his foreign policy address to the Sejm this year, to rebuild the network of diplomatic and consular posts. “It is our ambition for the years to come to further enhance the quality and accessibility of services provided by our consular posts, and do our best to handle the workload resulting from the growing mobility and migration of Polish citizens,” reads the foreign ministry’s statement.

    The consular district of the Polish Consulate General in Houston will cover 7 Midwest states: Arkansas (AR), Kansas (KS), Louisiana (LA), Mississippi (MS), New Mexico (NM), Oklahoma (OK), and Texas (TX). The new consulate will make it much easier for Polish nationals in Midwestern states to access consular services.

    Apart from its basic consular role and services for the large Polish diaspora in the region, the consulate will also have a number of economic, public, and cultural diplomacy tasks, including liaising with tens of US and international businesses and organizations.

    Source: PAP

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