The Warsaw Voice » Business » Monthly - August 28, 2015
Business & Economy
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Losing the Race for Jags
   
Many league tables rank Poland among the most attractive destinations for investors, not only in its region but also throughout Europe. Most foreign companies already operating in Poland say they are satisfied and do not rule out new projects in the future. Companies from the business services sector have taken a particular interest in Poland recently. Business service centers operated by foreign-owned companies in this country have a total of 150,000 employees, and are expected to hire another 100,000 or so over the next five years.

According to consulting and accounting giant KPMG, Poland is the most attractive location for business service centers in Europe. Key factors behind Poland’s appeal include the availability of qualified and highly motivated professionals, an increasingly well-developed infrastructure, and political and economic stability, KPMG says.

However, not all investors view Poland as a promised land. In one recent example, Jaguar Land Rover, the automotive company owned by India’s Tata corporation, selected Slovakia over Poland to build a new factory, its first European plant outside Britain. The factory is expected to produce up to 300,000 cars a year. The estimated value of the project is around 1 billion pounds.

The news that Poland’s bid was rejected and that it was Slovakia that was selected to host the project came as a major surprise in early August because a few weeks earlier India’s Economic Times newspaper suggested that Slovakia’s bid had been unsatisfactory and that Poland was sure to attract the project. At the time, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Janusz Piechociński stated in public that he was convinced Poland would outdistance Slovakia in the race for the new car factory. That pronouncement clearly proved too optimistic.

Today Polish government officials say Slovakia trumped rival bids because it offered Jaguar Land Rover a level of state aid that would render the project no longer profitable for Poland. Meanwhile, some independent experts say another factor in Poland losing the race for the Jaguar plant was mistakes made during the negotiations. Regardless of the actual cause, Poland’s reputation as a top destination for foreign investors has been harmed. Hopefully, the damage to the country’s image will be short-lived and Poland will attract a spectacular new project by a global corporation.

Andrzej Ratajczyk