Smoothing the wheels of commerce: Poland-China trade at record levels

CGTN traveled from the Polish capital of Warsaw to the southern town of Katowice on a train. The ride was fast and smooth, and it was the company we were going to visit that can take the credit for that.

RAFAMET is a medium-sized company with a world reputation in the railway business. It produces lathes that make train wheels perfectly round, so train wagons have a smooth and comfortable ride. 

The company is based in Kuznia Raciborska, a small town in the country's south, close to Katowice. It is also a  significant contributor to the expanding trade volume between Poland and China, where much if its output is headed.

The trade between the two countries hit a record high in 2021, with more than $42 billion worth of goods and services exchanged between them, a 35 percent increase over the previous year. 


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We saw some evidence of that increase in RAFAMET's final assembly and delivery hall, where several heavy machines were ready to be shipped to China. We saw RAFAMET workers load the final parts of a huge wheel lathe onto a truck destined for Türkiye,  just one of dozens of similar machines that the company sells every year to customers around the world.

In China, trains equipped with RAFAMET-finished wheels can reach a speed of 350 kilometers an hour. But RAFAMET's President and CEO Emanuel Longin Wons told us they can do even better.

"We are proud that our first and foremost partner in China is China Railways Corporation. And we are the ones supplying machine tools for Chinese high-speed trains. But let me tell you something more: with our partners from Qingdao, we are working on the possibility of increasing the speed of Chinese railways to 450 kilometers an hour."

RAFAMET is one of only a handful of companies worldwide that make these massive state-of-the-art  lathes for railways. It has a huge impact on the community of a small town in the south of Poland, like Kuźnia Raciborska. 

Most visitors would never guess that this city of 5,300 people hosts one of the world's leaders in railway machinery production. It is a matter of huge pride for the town's mayor, Pawel Mucha. The town and the company have been intertwined for decades, especially since hundreds of RAFAMET's highly skilled workers are locals, as Pawel Macha, the town's mayor, told us:

"RAFAMET is the reason for this city. Let's say that the growing of this factory is fully connected with the situation in this city. It is the biggest taxpayer, from all other investors."

China is the company's largest client, accounting for approximately 85 percent of its output. By setting the pace of progress in its industry, RAFAMET hopes to keep its most important client happy for years to come.

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