The global financial crisis passed through Poland with a significantly less destabilising effect than it had on other parts of the EU and the wider world. The Polish economy avoided most of the problems that other economies had to deal with. It did not participate in the subprime mortgage market and there have been no major bank failures, nor political instability caused by economic conditions.
The economy performed admirably and in 2009 Poland was the only European country to grow. This year, with real GDP growth expected to hit 3.4%, it is again set to be the EU’s leading performer. In the second quarter of 2010, Poland’s economy grew by 3.5%, up from 3% in the first quarter, and the forecasts for 2011 look even better.
It seems that Poland’s drive to converge economically with western Europe will be even more successful and will be achieved faster than anyone could have predicted when Poland joined the EU in 2004. Indicators such as GDP, productivity, consumer spending and industrial production are showing better results than the average for the old ‘EU15’ countries. Boosted by EU funds and an internal reform process, the Polish economy looks set to show steady growth in the short and medium term.
The growth of the economy, based on solid macroeconomic fundamentals, along with membership of all major international organisations and a broad human resources talent pool, has had a significant role in attracting FDI, even in the midst of the crisis. According to preliminary data from the National Bank of Poland, in 2009 FDI inflow Polish economy is a European success story. As Europe’s stand-out performer over the past couple of years, Poland has been increasingly appearing on the radar of international investors. But, writes Bolesław Gryzel, the best is yet to come decreased 16% to the level of E8.4bn, whereas the average global decrease of foreign investment reached 40%.
As of April 2010, the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency was overseeing 132 projects worth a total of E5.1bn, which will translate into 35,000 jobs. The majority of the investments come from the US, with the UK and France making up the rest of the top three biggest capital sources.
Recently, the renewed drive to privatise state-held assets increased the attention paid to Poland by foreign investors. Just a few months ago, the biggest initial public offering (IPO) to date on the Polish market – and the biggest in Europe since 2007 – took place on Warsaw Stock Exchange. The IPO of insurer PZU was worth E2bn and, although the biggest, it will not be the only one of comparable size in 2010 and 2011.
The special report on Poland that you have in your hands answers many of the questions that our office has received about the Polish economy during the past year. The number of enquires we receive and the recurring search for information on certain topics warranted our involvement in providing a reliable source of objective information on Poland. Thus emerged the idea of working with fDi Magazine on a report that would outline some of the main economic issues facing Poland. I hope that the independent report prepared by fDi Magazine will help you decide that Poland is indeed a place where you can successfully invest and do business.
Bolesław Gryzel is first counsellor and head of the Trade and Investment Promotion Section at the Polish Embassy in London