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The Warsaw Voice » Business » December 21, 2012
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Exports Doing Well
December 21, 2012   
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Despite economic problems in various European Union countries which are Poland’s main trading partners, exports remain one of the key drivers of GDP growth in Poland. Although exports stopped registering double-digit growth in 2012, Polish exporters still have plenty of reason to be satisfied. The value of Polish exports has again set an all-time record.

For more than a decade, exports have been a prime driving force behind the Polish economy and have been growing rapidly. According to the government’s Central Statistical Office (GUS), in 1999 Poland sold 25.7 billion euros worth of goods abroad; by 2011 the figure had grown to 136.7 billion euros—340 percent more than a decade earlier. The Export Credit Insurance Corporation (KUKE) estimates that in 2012 exports totaled 147.2 billion euros, over 5 percent more than in 2011. In 2013, with improved economic trends expected in some countries that are the main markets for Polish goods, the value of Poland’s exports is predicted to increase by 7 percent.

It is possible to argue that the crisis has in a sense helped Polish exporters. At a time of economic downturn, consumers in the West reduced their purchases, while paying much more attention to the price tags and far more frequently reaching for cheaper goods. And Polish goods, though competitive in terms of quality, are generally cheaper than their counterparts hailing from Western Europe. On the other hand, labor costs in Poland are lower and encourage foreign companies to move production here. A large part of this output is sent abroad, contributing to an increase in Poland’s overall exports.

Optimistically, not only is the value of exports increasing, but their breakdown is changing as well. The role of raw materials is decreasing in favor of high-value-added products. Polish export hits include electrical engineering products and machinery, which account for more than 40 percent of the total volume of Poland’s exports. These are mainly cars and automotive parts with sales abroad exceeding 17 billion euros a year. Other major exports are chemical industry products such as pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastics, as well as steel products.

Of special note are Polish food exports, because from the 1970s until 2003 Poland imported more food than it exported. In 2011, Polish food exports totaled 15.2 billion euros, while imports were 3 billion euros lower. Preliminary data show that in 2012 the surplus of exports over imports was even higher. The role of food in Poland’s overall exports is also growing. In this area, the biggest export hit is cigarettes, whose sales abroad have soared by a whopping 1,200 percent since Poland’s entry into the European Union in 2004. Other highly valued Polish food sector exports are grains (mainly wheat), whose sales abroad have grown by over 800 percent since 2004, and eggs, with an almost 700-percent increase. Importantly, competitive prices are not the only reason why Polish produce is conquering Western European markets. Polish food is also appreciated for its quality and taste.
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