Poland

With a fast-growing economy driven mainly by the privatization of state-owned companies, Poland has managed to stay ahead of many of its EU counterparts.

Poland is the only country in the European Union to have recorded GDP growth during the global financial crisis in 2008-2009. Not being in the eurozone helped, as the Narodowy Bank Polski, the national bank, was able to adjust its currency. Poland also received funds from the EU as part of its conditions for joining in 2004.

Poland’s economic growth is still ahead of many of its EU counterparts; in 2013, only five of 28 EU countries recorded better growth. Since its renewed independence in 1990, Poland’s economy has been driven mainly by the privatization of small and medium-sized state-owned companies. The country also has developed an important aerospace cluster in Aviation Valley, a business hub that has ballooned in size. In 2003, the business park in Rzeszów included 15 companies; now it boasts 120.

In spite of that, the country suffers from chronic unemployment. Investors are nevertheless attracted to Poland for many reasons, including its low wages and educated workforce.

FACTS FOR INVESTORS

  1. Warsaw is the business capital of Poland.
  2. The country ranks 32nd of 189 countries on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index for 2014.
  3. It ranked 40th of 100 countries on Forbes’ 2014 list of best countries for business.
  4. Poland is the world’s 27th-largest exporter and 25th-largest importer.

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

  1. Talk to the head. If you’re dealing with the head of the company, he or she may not speak English fluently, but someone will translate.
  2. Card smarts. Poles exchange business cards at the beginning of meetings. Have yours ready.
  3. Punctuality rules. Be five minutes early for your meeting but don’t arrive any earlier, as staff won’t know what to do with you.
  4. Business first. Unlike in some countries, business isn’t generally conducted in restaurants. Rather, it takes place in boardrooms where you will be offered tea, coffee or water.
  5. Dress to impress. A business suit is your safest bet. You may get away without a tie, especially if you’re working in Aviation Valley or in the high-tech sector.

TRAVEL TIPS

  1. Cool climate. Poland has four distinct seasons. The hottest temperature in summer is 35 C, but there’s no humidity. Autumn temps range from zero to 10 C and it may snow in November. In winter, be prepared for temperatures that can go as low as -20 C.
  2. Walk the talk. Most people in the big cities can speak English well enough to help you. In smaller areas, teens can speak English and will translate in a pinch.
  3. Gratuitous gratuities. Some restaurants will add a “service fee” to the bill. If the tip is not included, it’s customary to leave 10%.
  4. Getting around. Travelling between Kraków and Warsaw is best done by train, which often arrives at its destination between 10 and 30 minutes late. There’s a domestic airport in each of the provinces, so flights between major cities are also possible, but are more expensive. Intercity buses are another option. There is a two-line metro in Warsaw, and while Kraków has no metro it has an extensive system of buses and trams.
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About the Author

Jennifer Campbell


Jennifer Campbell is a freelance writer based in Ottawa.

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