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The Warsaw Voice » Business » January 31, 2013
Business & Economy
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In Brief
January 31, 2013   
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Natural Disasters Less Costly
Hurricanes, disasters, floods and other natural disasters worldwide caused $160 billion worth of damage in 2012, according to reinsurer Munich Re.

The year’s highest insured loss was caused by Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the northeastern United States—estimated at a total of $50 billion.

Overall, global losses were significantly lower in 2012 than in the previous year, when they came to $400 billion.


Cheaper Food
World food prices fell by 7 percent in 2012 compared with 2011, according to the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Among staple foods, the price of sugar went down by 17.1 percent, dairy products were 14.5 percent cheaper, and oils 10.7 percent cheaper.


Record Tractor Sales
Last year saw record tractor sales in Poland. A total of 19,315 tractors were sold across the country, 11 percent more than in 2011. Poland is number four in Europe in terms of tractor sales, largely due to EU funds and the improving financial condition of Polish farmers, according to the Martin & Jacob company, which monitors the agricultural market.


Steel Consumption Down
The Polish economy consumed about 7 percent less steel in 2012 than a year earlier. Domestic production also decreased slightly, yet the decline was smaller than in neighboring countries and in the EU as a whole, according to the Metallurgical Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The chamber says consumption totaled 10.3 million metric tons in 2012, markedly less than a year earlier. The main reason is the ongoing economic downturn and a significant drop in production in the automotive sector. Moreover, the number of large investment projects decreased in 2012. In previous years, many projects related to the Euro 2012 soccer championships had been carried out.


Productivity on the Rise
Labor productivity in Poland has increased by 21 percent since 2005. This is one of the highest figures in the EU, though Poland is behind other emerging market economies in the region such as Lithuania, Slovenia, Latvia and Bulgaria.

Slovakia has made relatively little progress in labor productivity, which improved by just 6.9 percent. In the case of Hungary, the increase was a paltry 1.4 percent.
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