Written by Alistair Clark, President of the Emerging Markets Club (IE Business School)
The Ambassador rattled off some important statistics concerning Poland. The economic growth rate has increased to around 6% for 2007 and a similar figure is expected for this year. Certain figures predict that more prosperous times are ahead; for example, inflation is now around 4.5% while unemployment has decreased from 19% to 11%, due in part to emigration. The public deficit fluctuates between 2.5% and 4.2% of the GDP, depending on EU or local government calculations. Wages rose by 12% last year up to 800 Euros per month, but are still well below the EU average. The interest rate is currently pegged at 4.5%, but is expected to rise to 6.25% in 2008.
Poland still needs to undergo changes to be able to compete within the EU. Local laws, particularly with regard to real estate development, are antiquated, overly confusing and anti-competitive with too much bureaucratic red tape. Another opportunity for Poland to set the stage as a modern, international business power will be a successful Eurocup that the FIFA granted to Poland and the Ukraine; however, they have yet to build proper facilities and local infrastructures are in dire need for improvement. For example, Poland has only 400 kilometres of freeways in the entire country and the ticket price for domestic flights are set far above fair value as routes are controlled by the Polish airline monopoly, LOT.
Spanish is spoken more frequently in Poland and its presence is increasing as students begin to learn the language. Students are also visiting Spain more regularly as they are now able to travel through Europe, something that Communism forbade them to do and new economic growth is allowing for greater expendable income that funds their trips. The new government is conscious of economic growth through foreign investment and will likely make concessions to increase Poland’s emergence into a more modern business model. One can conclude that Poland’s star is rising quickly and its pace will only accelerate when the Euro becomes the nation’s official currency.