The Warsaw Voice » Business » Monthly - December 13, 2015
Business & Economy
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Tobacco Exports Up by a Third
Exports of tobacco products from Poland rose a hefty 32.1 percent year on year in the first six months of 2015. The country is the largest producer of tobacco and tobacco products in the EU, selling huge quantities of cigarettes around the world.

According to the Polish Tobacco Association, the tobacco industry employs a total of 60,000 people in this country and contributes around zl.20 billion to the budget a year. This accounts for around 8 percent of Poland’s total government revenues—an exceptionally high figure compared with other EU member states.

The tobacco business is profitable for Poland even though most of the output is generated by international corporations, according to Radosław Jarema, head of the Polish branch of the Akcenta international financial services firm.

Four companies account for 99 percent of total Polish production. “Polish factories gain from larger orders while excise tax generates higher government revenues,” says Jarema.

Exports of Polish tobacco products were worth almost zl.8.2 billion last year and almost zl.4.7 billion in the first half of this year, according to Poland’s Central Statistical Office (GUS).

Cigarettes from Poland are popular in such remote corners of the world as Papua New Guinea and Jordan, which in the first half of this year imported cigarettes worth zl.23 million and zl.11 million respectively.

Cigarettes made in Poland also find their way to Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, Kyrgyzstan, South Korea and Australia. But most Polish cigarettes go to Western Europe. The largest importer is France, followed by Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. Key markets for Polish cigarettes also include the Balkan region, including tiny Kosovo, where sales in the first half of this year reached a staggering zl.43.5 million. According to the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2015, almost a third of the population of the Balkan region are smokers.

Meanwhile, dark clouds are gathering over the tobacco industry. Production facilities might still be working at full steam, but the sector needs to brace itself for some serious challenges, such as an EU tobacco directive aimed at reducing the number of smokers. Legal problems aside, the industry is also facing growing competition from producers of electronic cigarettes.