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Poland Profile

Poland is amongst the most appealing global destinations for international investments. Global reports highlight the economic and political stability of Poland, educated and competent human capital along with a large domestic market, which is the 6th largest in the European Union. In occasions of global economic crisis Poland has reinforced its position, not just in the region of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) but also throughout the EU. Overseas investors willingly invest their capital in Poland treating it as a safe refuge in instances of global financial volatility. Tourists in turn are enchanted by Polish hospitality and friendliness, Poland’s cultural heritage as well as the country’s beautiful natural landscapes.

Poland’s 38-million strong consumer markets are amongst the biggest in Europe. The country’s beneficial location, in the center of Europe, in which major communication routes intersect, makes it possible to export goods to all European nations using Poland a central European hub thereby reaching over 500 million consumers. Poland’s leading trade partners amongst others are Germany, Russia, China, France, UK, Italy, Hungary, Ukraine and Spain.

Whilst the rest of Europe was battling with the global economic crisis, Poland experienced GDP growth of over 20% from 2008-2013. As expected, Poland’s GDP growth slowed, in 2013 partly due to the European debt crisis and Poland’s own fiscal consolidation efforts. Nevertheless, growth is anticipated to of exceeded 3% in 2014. Poland’s growth was partly due to the considerable resources, received from the EU structural and cohesion funds. Poland is the primary beneficiary of these funds, receiving €68.7 billion from 2007 to 2013. The second round of EU funding for the years 2014-2020 will reportedly be used to fund continued infrastructure projects, to develop Poland’s energy industry, as well as stimulating innovation and strengthen Poland’s SME sector.

Well-educated Polish economists, engineers, IT specialists and scientists are highly sought-after and valued by employers across Europe. Each and every year, the amount of graduates from Polish universities grows with Polish faculties having a high focus on high-tech industries which is one of the fastest growing sectors.

The country’s sustainable growth has a lot to do with its strong economic foundations. The global economic crisis had limited effect on Poland, which is the only country in Europe to have avoided a recession during this crisis, which began in 2008 and additionally has developed at the highest rate in Europe. Evaluation of the investment climate in Poland for foreign entrepreneurs every year is getting better. With all these factors combined with the country’s international safety and stability, which is in some part guaranteed by Poland’s membership in NATO along with the EU helps to make Poland a reliable and important business partner for business development and foreign investment. One of the most important challenges to be faced by the country in the foreseeable future are issues associated with the adoption of the Euro (European currency) which Poland has to adhere to all the criteria so the country will be able to enter the euro zone.

Leading businesses often choose Poland as a great investment destination in Europe, according to Bloomberg Rankings in 2013 Poland was the best CEE country for business. In a FDI Intelligence Report Poland was rated in 3rd place globally, behind China and the US as the prime locations for manufacturing projects. Based on the report of European Attractiveness prepared by Ernst & Young within the next 3 years Poland is going to be the second in Europe (after Germany) which is the most attractive country for investment. The report pointed out a very stable macroeconomic situation, noting that Poland was the only country in the EU to avoid recession in 2008-2009, since the crisis Poland has achieved the highest growth not just in Central Europe but throughout the European Union. Poland offers a stable macroeconomic situation, the experts at E&Y highlighted in their report that the availability of well qualified and efficient employees, a business friendly environment as well as a transparent tax and legal systems all make Poland an attractive location to do business. A World Bank report Doing Business 2013 highlights that Poland was the global top improver in the past year. It improved the ease of doing business through four institutional or regulatory reforms, which makes it easier to register property, pay taxes, enforce contracts and resolve insolvency, but still work is needed.

The country offers an array of investment incentives. Investors are invited to locate their projects in 14 Special Economic Zones (SEZ) i.e. special zones in which financial activity could be run in beneficial conditions. Polish SEZs provides attractive tax exemptions, employment incentives and well-prepared investment lots.

The Polish market is characterized by a wide population dispersion with 25% of Poles live in rural areas and urban dwellers among a number of urban population centres, such as Warsaw and Lodz in the center of the country, Krakow in the south, Wroclaw and Poznan in the west, Gdansk and Szczecin in the north, and Lublin in the southeast. Two of these cities are very popular for German investments which are Wroclaw and Poznan, which is due to their geographical position on the west side of the country close to the German border as well as Germany historical links with these cities.

Urban consumers generally have better purchasing power when compared with their rural counterparts. There are numerous opportunities in a variety of sectors including Advanced Engineering, Science & Technology/Innovation, Power, Biotechnology, Consumer Goods, Education & Training, Food, Sport, Leisure and Security. In some sectors (e.g. Automotive, Electronics and Engineering), there is a tendency towards sourcing, supply from, or investing in Poland as well as the usual flow of exports and imports.

To be successful in doing business, then personal contact with the customer is crucial as final purchasing decisions generally require a face-to-face meeting. Success within this market usually requires an in-country presence, such as an agent, distributor, or representative office.

Even though the number of English speakers in Poland is rising, especially in urban areas, communication in Polish is advisable in order to elicit prompt responses to offers and inquiries as well as to facilitate negotiations. Poland’s communication network is reasonably well developed and email communications and website offerings are an extremely effective method of reaching local buyers, with e-commerce in Poland one of the fastest growing within the EU.

Pricing continues to be the most crucial factor in positioning a product or service for sale in Poland, with regards to the retail consumer market, Global Brands are popular however Poles are generally more price conscience before the consideration of the brand. Access to capital is challenging for the majority of Polish firms, so business transactions are typically self-financed. International companies that have financing in place will have a competitive edge when competing with local firms. The effects of the global financial crisis have emphasized the need for International exporters to develop a creative strategy for funding exports, additionally, currency fluctuations might continue in 2014 challenging even the most well-planned export strategy. The careful crafting of terms of sale, such as creative packaging of currency and pricing terms helps the International exporters gain a lasting advantage in the current Polish market.

Poland is a country with numerous tourist and sporting opportunities. The array of landscape and natural wealth combined with the wide range of opportunities for sport ranging from sea/water sports, yachting, skiing, cycling, hiking and mountain climbing attract tourists from all over the world. Poland’s rich cultural and heritage history is also a big draw for overseas visitors.

How to Do Business in Poland 

Business Etiquette in Poland as well as cultural awareness or cultural knowledge has become increasingly important in today's global economy and none more so in Poland. The sentiment that because the "world is getting smaller" our differences are becoming less obvious is recognized as flawed. As people interact and do business across cultural boundaries more often, cross cultural differences become more acute.

Businesses now accept that equipping people with the appropriate cultural awareness can and does impact business operations positively. This guide to doing business in Poland offers a taster of some of the information a cultural awareness briefing would provide.
In this guide we provide some very basic tips for people doing business in Poland. It is important to bear in mind that all we offer are generalizations of Polish culture and society and do not in any way mean to stereotype the Polish people.

Meeting & Greeting:
When doing business in Poland a firm handshake with good eye contact is important when meeting. If greeting or departing from a group ensure each individual is addressed separately rather than a wave to the group. It is polite to wait for a woman to extend her hand upon initial meetings.

Poland is a rather formal and hierarchical culture. As a result, first names are rarely used initially in the business context. Address people with Pan (Mr.) and Pani (Mrs.) plus the surname. If a relationship warms up to the degree where first names can be used, always await the other party to signal that this is the case.

Communication:
Before doing business in Poland note that it is very much a relationship driven culture. Sincere trust does not usually extend beyond the family circles. The family or the relationship will usually take precedence over work, rules and decisions. Therefore the key to success in the country relies on a strong relationship based on mutual benefit and trust.

Relationship building may be done over food.  Never talk business at such occasion unless it is brought up by the other party. This time should be used to get to know your counterpart better and vice-versa. When invited to a restaurant, the host usually pays the bill; however, it is also polite for the guest to offer. If you plan on being the host speak with the manager or headwaiter and explain that you, and only you, will be paying the bill.

Meetings & Negotiations:
Presentations should be a blend of well-organized information backed up with statistics and case studies plus a feel-good factor relating to you as a person, your experience and the proposed relationship. This is because Poles make decisions not only based on evidence but also on their own experience, beliefs and sense of right and wrong.

Due to the hierarchical nature of business it will be obvious if the meeting you are in is for exploration or finalisation. If the decision makers are present in a meeting, then decisions can be made; otherwise, the meeting will be considered for information sharing and discussion.

Poland is the leading market of the new European Union (EU) member states. It has been one of the fastest developing countries in the EU in recent years. In 2012 its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) improved by 1.6%, well above the EU average.

Poland is positioned at the crossroads of European trade and transport routes. It is often used as an entry point to other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in addition to emerging markets further east.

€72 .9 billion from EU structural and cohesion funds for the years 2014 to 2020 will be invested in an array of projects in Poland.
Poland is rated by the World Bank as the 45th easiest country in which to do business.
Advantages for businesses exporting to Poland include:
Big domestic market with more than 38 million consumers
English increasingly spoken, especially by the younger generation
Powerful, dynamic economy
Gateway to emerging markets of Eastern Europe
Over 300 flights per week between United Kingdom and Poland
Strong points of the Polish market include:
Strategic location
105 .8 billion Euro of EU funds will be allotted to Poland between 2014 and 2020
Young, well-educated workforce
Extensive experience in trade with Eastern Europe
Investment incentives in Special Economic Zones (SEZ), business and technology parks
Availability of foreign lawyers, accountants and consultants in Poland to help foreign investors

Challenges
Conducting business in Poland is comparable to doing business in the UK or Germany. If your products or services are effective in these markets, there is an excellent chance you will be effective in Poland.
Nevertheless, there are challenges. These include:
Bureaucracy
Competitive market
Lack of clarity and transparency in tax administration
Tax burden
Corruption
Slow-moving judicial system
Poor infrastructure, however, improvements due to EU funding of projects.
It is advisable to make sure you take the necessary steps to adhere to the requirements of own countries Bribery laws.
Growth potential
Economic growth

Poland has experienced continuous growth since 1992. It has been the most effective performing EU economies throughout the global economic recession. Consumer spending in Poland was resilient throughout the downturn and is anticipated to remain strong.

In 2013, Poland’s GDP improved by 1.6%, according to Eurostat. GDP averaged 0.1% across the 27 EU countries.

Estimations indicate that Poland’s GDP will increase by over 3% in 2014.
Growth is expected as a result of:
Increased exports
Improved economic outlook in the Eurozone
Growing demand from emerging markets
Domestic consumption

EU funds

The EU has allotted €72.9 billion to Poland via the structural and cohesion fund program. This will help sustain Poland as a market offering growth, stability and good prospects for business. The EU funds are going to contribute to investment in Polish:
Infrastructure
Environmental and technology projects
Human development
Regional development
High growth Europe

The CEE region provides significant potential for business wishing to expand their exports.

Economic forecasts for CEE are positive. GDP growth is anticipated to reach 4 to 5% per annum over the next 20 years. Poland can be an entry point into the other CEE markets.

The CEE region:
Is easily accessible from the majority of EU airports
Provides a market of over 100 million consumers
Has the widespread use of English as the business language
Is generating major investments in energy, transport as well as other infrastructure due to billions in EU funding
Is an entry point into Eastern Europe
Trade agreements
Poland is a member of the EU, the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as other major international bodies. Goods manufactured in the EU are exempt from import duties.
Poland is a member of the Schengen area.
The UK was the third largest investor in Poland in 2012 after Germany and France.
Start-up considerations
The primary routes to market include:
Agent or commission agent
Importer
Distributor
Direct sales
Partnership
Joint venture

Direct sales into the Polish market can be challenging. It is usually more effective to approach the market via local business partners with the capability to distribute and provide technical support and market know how.

Licensing and franchising are very popular.
Invest in Poland offers information on establishing a company or a branch office in Poland.
Legal considerations
Polish legislation, even though harmonized with EU requirements it is complex.
Standards and technical regulations
Products and packaging should meet EU standards.
The local product laws can vary. The Polish Norms Committee is in charge of issuing standards and certification.
Labels should be in Polish.
Intellectual property (IP)

Trademarks, designs, patents and copyright are the principal forms of IP protection accessible to companies and individuals.
IP law, particularly for patent protection, is not completely harmonized within the EU.

Poland is a member of the main international conventions protecting intellectual property.
The Polish Patent Office has responsibility for intellectual property.

Value Added Tax (VAT)
The basic VAT rate is 23% that is applied to the majority of goods and services.
VAT at 8% is applied to certain goods and services such as fire protection, specific groceries, hotel services, social housing program modernization. 5% VAT applies to supply certain (basic) food products.

Company tax
Corporate income tax is 19%. Discover additional information about corporate taxation on the Invest in Poland website.

Income tax
Income tax is in 2 bands at 18% and 32%. Discover additional information on income tax on the Invest in Poland website.

Customs
The internal market of the European Union is a single market, which enables the free movement of goods and services. Consequently, no import duties apply for goods manufactured within the EU.

Facts

    Full name: Republic of Poland
    Population: 38.3 million (UN, 2012)
    Capital: Warsaw
    Area: 312,685 sq km (120,728 sq miles)
    Major language: Polish
    Major religion: Christianity
    Life expectancy: 72 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN)
    Monetary unit: 1 zloty = 100 groszy
    Main exports: Machinery and transport equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals
    GNI per capita: US $12,380 (World Bank, 2011)
    Internet domain: .pl
    International dialling code: +48

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