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The Warsaw Voice » Business » September 2, 2011
Business & Economy
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Crisis Hits Exporters
September 2, 2011   
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Exports have been a key driver of the Polish economy in recent years. Trade grew with each year, becoming one of the factors thanks to which Poland recorded high GDP growth and managed to avoid a recession during the global financial and economic crisis. The upbeat performance of Polish exporters on both European and non-European markets was the result of huge efforts made by Polish companies, which quickly adapted their products to market requirements. Thanks to this Polish products became competitive not on account of their low prices but because of their high quality.

Today there is every indication that Polish exporters are in for a difficult period. This is shown by the latest batch of macroeconomic data released by the government’s Central Statistical Office. These data show that Poland’s exports in June were 1.6 billion euros (more than 12 percent) lower than in May. Looking at the structure of these exports, it seems that the main cause is weakening demand across the European Union, especially in euro-zone countries. EU countries struggling with economic problems are limiting their demand for foreign products and services, as evidenced by a decreased role of Italy in Polish exports, for example.

Some unsettling figures have also arrived from Brussels. According to the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat, in the second quarter of this year economic growth in the 17 EU countries using the euro dwindled to almost nil. The euro-zone’s seasonally adjusted GDP grew a paltry 0.2 percent over the previous quarter. This is close to stagnation. All major economies in Europe have slowed. The biggest letdown is Germany, which was until recently seen as the key driving force behind the EU economy as a whole. In the second quarter, German GDP grew only 0.1 percent over the first quarter. Year-on-year growth decelerated by almost half: from 4.8 percent to 2.6 percent. France, another big European economy, is faring only slightly better. In quarter-on-quarter terms, the French economy is stagnant (GDP remained unchanged from the previous quarter), and year-on-year growth slowed from 2.1 percent to 1.6 percent. A similar situation exists in Britain, whose GDP was only 0.2 percent higher than in the previous quarter, and year-on-year growth decelerated from 1.6 percent to 0.7 percent.

The disappointing Eurostat data is bad news for Polish exporters because euro-zone countries account for half of Poland’s exports. In the second half of the year, demand in EU countries is likely to be significantly weaker than in the first half. This means that Polish companies should look for opportunities to increase sales on non-European markets.
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