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The Warsaw Voice » Business » June 3, 2014
From the Business Editor
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Bankers at the Stadium
June 3, 2014   
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Built especially for the Euro 2012 soccer championships, the National Stadium in Warsaw arouses mixed feelings.

Some love its modern look and technology. Others criticize the exorbitant construction cost, estimated at around zl.2 billion, and point out the problems experienced by the companies that built the stadium, the delays in completing the facility and the problems with its retractable roof. What’s more, the National Stadium has hardly seen many great triumphs by Polish sportsmen so far. Most matches played by the Polish national soccer team there were forgettable, to put it mildly.

You cannot say, however, that the National Stadium is only about failures. There have also been successes, widely commented across Europe and beyond. But these successes have nothing to do with either soccer or other sports, but with the fact that the National Stadium has proved to be an excellent venue for various international conferences. One such event was the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 19) last year. Another success was this May’s annual conference of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EBRD Annual Meeting & Business Forum. This meeting was attended by some 2,500 bankers, financiers and politicians who gathered at the Warsaw stadium to discuss the economic future of Europe. The event was also a good opportunity to take stock of 25 years of democratic and economic changes in Central and Eastern Europe.

The EBRD forum was a success for Poland not only because it did a good job hosting the event, but also because experts from international financial institutions were positive about this country. According to the latest projections by the EBRD, unveiled in Warsaw, Poland stands out among transition economies. The average economic growth forecast for transition countries this year is 1.4 percent, down from 2.3 percent in 2013—and a drastic drop from the EBRD’s January projection of 2.7 percent.

Of course, the biggest problems will be experienced by Ukraine, according to the EBRD. Under the bank’s baseline scenario, the Ukrainian economy will plunge into a deep recession. The country’s GDP will shrink by 7 percent this year and will likely continue to contract next year. The January forecast suggested Ukraine’s GDP would grow 1.5 percent. Russia is also teetering on the brink of recession.

Fortunately, these pessimistic visions do not apply to Poland. The EBRD has raised its forecast for Polish economic growth from 2.7 to 2.8 percent. It said the Polish labor market is improving and real wages are growing, which augurs well for domestic demand.

Recently, other international institutions have revised upward their forecasts for Polish GDP growth to more than 3 percent. According to the Polish central bank, the Polish economy will expand by 3.6 percent this year.

Andrzej Ratajczyk
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