EAST Lancashire businesses are being urged to become 'Poles' apart from their competitors -- by breaking into the market in Poland.

The East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce is behind the rallying call, stressing now is the time for the region's firms to set their sights on the country which has recently joined the EU.

The Chamber's international trade director Ed Murphy said there were tremendous opportunities in Poland as it looks to bring itself up to the standards expected of all European Union countries.

"Poland has really opened its borders to international trade and companies there are very keen to do business with the UK," he said.

Particular job opportunities exist in the infrastructure sector, as the country takes to the task of conforming to European regulations.

As part of the push, the chamber brought together a team of specialists to outline the opportunities that now exist for trade with Poland at a one-day seminar at the Chamber's Clayton Business Park headquarters gave companies the chance to fully explore the potential.

"We lined up a team of Polish and British experts who can offer support in areas such as market intelligence, credit insurance, logistics and customs. It was an ideal opportunity for businesses to listen and speak to so many experts in a single day."

As a new member state, Poland has access to EU structural funds to enable further economic and commercial development of the country.

The chamber are highlighting Poland because it is one of the fastest growing economies with rapidly developing market with excellent opportunities for most products.

And the chamber is offering East lancashire firms advise to capitalise on the opportunities that exist in sectors ranging from healthcare to food processing.

Poland is the largest of the Eastern European markets and provides what the chamber terms "an ideal shop window" and springboard to other Eastern European countries.

And the chamber's international trade supervisor said the region's firms looking to crack the Polish market should do it sooner rather than later.

Stef Heywood, the chamber's international trade supervisor stressed: "We have long established ties with Poland and British products are well thought of, so why shouldn't businesses in East Lancashire go for it and get in there? With so much potential it is better to tap into it now rather than try to play catch up."

For more details, call on 01254 356400