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Poland Economy
 
 
 

General

Poland is considered to have one of the healthiest economies of the post-communist countries and is currently one of the fastest growing countries within the EU. Since the fall of the communist government, Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of liberalising the economy and today stands out as a successful example of the transition from a centrally planned economy to a primarily capitalistic market economy. Poland is the only member of the European Union to have avoided a decline in GDP during the late 2000s recession. In 2009 Poland has had the greatest GDP growth in the EU. As of November 2009 the Polish economy has not entered the global recession of the late 2000s nor has it even contracted.

The privatisation of small and medium state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms have allowed the development of an aggressive private sector. As a consequence, consumer rights organisations have also appeared. Restructuring and privatisation of "sensitive sectors" such as coal, steel, rail transport and energy has been continuing since 1990. Between 2007 and 2010, the government plans to float 20 public companies on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, including parts of the coal industry. The biggest privatisations have been the sale of the national telecoms firm Telekomunikacja Polska to France Télécom in 2000, and an issue of 30% of the shares in Poland's largest bank, PKO Bank Polski, on the Polish stockmarket in 2004.

Poland has a large number of private farms in its agricultural sector, with the potential to become a leading producer of food in the European Union. Structural reforms in healthcare, education, the pension system and state administration have resulted in larger-than-expected fiscal pressures. Warsaw leads Central Europe in foreign investment. GDP growth had been strong and steady from 1993 to 2000 with only a short slowdown from 2001 to 2002.

The economy had growth of 3.7% annually in 2003, a rise from 1.4% annually in 2002. In 2004, GDP growth equalled 5.4%, in 2005 3.3% and in 2006 6.2%. According to Eurostat data, Polish PPS GDP per capita stood at 57% of the EU average in 2008.

Although the Polish economy is currently undergoing economic development, there are many challenges ahead. The most notable task on the horizon is the preparation of the economy (through continuing deep structural reforms) to allow Poland to meet the strict economic criteria for entry into the Eurozone. According to the Minister of Finance, Jacek Rostowski, Poland is likely to adopt the euro in 2012 or 2013. Some businesses may already accept the euro as payment.

Average salaries in the enterprise sector in April 2008 were 3137 PLN (€925 or $1,434) and growing sharply. Salaries vary between the regions: the median wage in the capital city Warsaw was 4,600 PLN (€1,200 or $2,000) while in Białystok it was only 2,400 PLN (€670 or $1,000).

Since joining the European Union, many workers have left to work in other EU countries (particularly Ireland and the UK) because of high unemployment, which was the second-highest in the EU (14.2% in May 2006). However, with the rapid growth of the salaries, booming economy, strong value of Polish currency, and quickly decreasing unemployment (6.7% in August 2008) exodus of Polish workers seems to be over. In 2008 people who came back outnumbered those leaving the country.

Commodities produced in Poland include: electronics, cars (including the luxurious Leopard car), buses (Autosan, Jelcz SA, Solaris, Solbus), helicopters (PZL Świdnik), transport equipment, locomotives, planes (PZL Mielec), ships, military engineering (including tanks, SPAAG systems), medicines (Polpharma, Polfa), food, clothes, glass, pottery (Bolesławiec), chemical products and others.

Poland is a net exporter of processed fruit and vegetables, meat, and dairy products. Processors often rely on imports to supplement domestic supplies of wheat, feed grains, vegetable oil, and protein meals, which are generally insufficient to meet domestic demand. However, Poland is the leading producer in Europe of potatoes and rye and is one of the world's largest producers of sugar beets and triticale. Poland also is a significant producer of rapeseed, grains, hogs, and cattle. Attempts to increase domestic feed grain production are hampered by the short growing season, poor soil, and the small size of farms.

Poland is a part of the global tourism market with constantly increasing number of visitors, particularly after joining the EU. Tourism in Poland contributes to the country's overall economy. The most popular cities are Warsaw, Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Lublin, Toruń, including the historic site of the Auschwitz concentration camp near Oświęcim. Popular destinations include northeast Poland's Mazury lake district and Białowieża Forest. Poland's main tourist offers are sightseeing within cities and out-of-town historical monuments, business trips, qualified tourism, agrotourism, and mountain hiking, among others. Poland is the 17th most visited country by foreign tourists in 2008.


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