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Full Name: Republic of Poland

National Symbol: white crowned eagle

Internet Domain: .pl

International Dialing Code: +48

Table of Contents

Location and Size Economy Business Climate
Government Comparative Indicators Business Protocol
Legal System Credit and Collections Other Sources of Info
Interesting Facts Risk Assessment

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Location and Size

Poland is located in Central Europe, east of Germany. It features 440 km of coastline on the Baltic Sea to the north. Its 312,685 sq km makes it slightly smaller than the U.S. state of New Mexico.

Warsaw, Poland's capital, is a city of 1.71 million located on the Vistula River in east central Poland.

Government

Poland is a republic divided into 16 provinces operating under a multiparty parliamentary system.

Branches:

  • Executive: chief of state: President Andrzej Duda (since 6 August 2015); head of government: Prime Minister Beaa Szydlo (since 16 November 2015); Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski since 16 November 2015) cabinet: Council of Ministers responsible to the prime minister and the Sejm; the prime minister proposes, the president appoints, and the Sejm approves the Council of Ministers
  • Legislative: bicameral legislature consists of an upper house, the Senate or Senat (100 seats; members elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis to serve four-year terms), and a lower house, the Sejm (460 seats; members elected under a complex system of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
  • Judicial: Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary for an indefinite period); Constitutional Tribunal (judges are chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms)

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Legal System

Poland has a codified civil law system. Changes are gradually being introduced as part of broader democratization process. The system provides for limited judicial review of legislative acts, but rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal are final.

The country has accepted International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction with reservations. It also accepts International Criminal Court jurisdiction.

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Economy

With a flexible exchange rate, a legally independent central bank with an IMF credit line, access to international markets, and healthy economic policies, Poland continues to experience economic growth. Increasingly concerned about Russia’s activities in the region, Poland has agreed to host the next NATO summit in July 2016. Low rates of investment in agriculture have made Poland uncompetitive in food production, but the automotive, pharmaceutical, aviation, steel, and machinery sectors have made it one of the EU’s strongest economic performers. The private sector now accounts for two-thirds of GDP.

Leading Markets (2016): Germany 27.1%, UK 6.6%, Czech Republic 5.5%, France 5.8%, Italy 4.7%,  Russia 4.2%

Leading Exports: commodities: machinery and transport equipment 37.8%, intermediate manufactured goods 23.7%, miscellaneous manufactured goods 17.1%, food and live animals 7.6%

Leading Suppliers (2016): Germany 28%, Russia 9.1%, Netherlands 5.9%, Italy 5.5%, France 4.4%, Czech Republic 4.3%

Leading Imports: machinery and transport equipment 38%, intermediate manufactured goods 21%, chemicals 15%, minerals, fuels, lubricants, and related materials 9%

Top Industries: machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles

Top Agricultural Products: potatoes, fruits, vegetables, wheat; poultry, eggs, pork, dairy

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Comparative Economic Indicators – 2016

Poland Belarus Czech
Republic
Russia Slovakia Ukraine
Population (millions)* 38.5 9.6 10.2 142.5 5.5 44.9
Population growth rate (%)* 0 -0.2 -0.1 -0.01 0.1 -0.6
Age Structure (%)
(15 to 64 years old)
71.3 71.1 69.6 71.3 71.4 70.7
Age Structure (%)
(65+ years old)
14.0 13.9 17.0 13.0 13.1 15.5
Literacy (%) 99.7 99.6 99.0 99.6 99.6 99.7
Unemployment rate (%) 7.9 1.0
8.5 6.6 13.2 7.9
Inflation (%) -0.8 0.71 1.9 8.4 3.9 8.0
Population below poverty line (%) 10.6 27.1
9.0 13.1
21.0
35.0
GDP** (USD billion) 1.003
(trillion)
141.8 285.0 2,383.0 126.9 329.3
GDP real growth rate (%) 3.5 5.3 1.7 4.3 3.3 5.2
GDP per capita** (USD) 26,400.0 15,000.0 27,100.0 16,700.0 23,300.0 7,200.0
Public debt (% of GDP) 43.4 52.5 41.2 8.3 43.3 35.9
Industrial production growth rate (%) 6.9 10.5 6.9 47 6.9 7.6
Exports (USD billions) 190.2 41.4 138.5 520.3 78.5 69.4
Imports (USD billions) 187.5 45.1 133.2 322.3 75.1 85.7
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold (USD billions) 94.75 6.0 40.3 498.6 2.5 31.8
Currency Zloty
PLN
Ruble
BYR
Koruna
CZK
Ruble
RUB
Euro
EUR
Hryvnia
UAH
Exchange rates (per USD) 5/20/2016 .25 .000056 .0041 .015 1.12 .40
Exchange rates (per EUR) 5/20/2016 .23 .000046 .0037 .013 n/a .0366

* May 2016 estimate
** PPP – Purchasing Power Parity
*** 2016 Corruption Index (176 countries): 10=Very Clean; 0=Highly Corrupt
**** 2016 Index of Economic Freedom: 100-80 = Free; 49.9-0 = Repressed

Economic Data from CIA World Factbook
2016 Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International
2016 Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

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Credit and Collections

Collecting in Poland

It is a common practice in Poland and other Eastern European countries to delay payments as long as possible, even if they are capable of paying on time. These buyers then negotiate the payment with a significant discount.

Polish commercial law does not require a written contract as the basis for legal action before an Arbitration Court . This is unlike some other countries in Eastern Europe, such as Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. It is recommended that sellers into Poland have such a written contract with the buyer. And, that is it signed by someone with the authorization (as shown on the public register) to sign contracts for the buyer.

Statute of Limitations

  • Open Account: 2 years
  • Promissory Notes: 2 years
  • Written Contract: 2 years
  • Oral Agreement: 2 years

The period is extended to 4 years for creditors that reside in countries which are signatories of the 1958 NY Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbatral Awards. You can find a listing of all 148 countries which are currently parties to this Convention on the web site of UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law). Therefore, it is recommended that sellers include a Binding and Final Arbitration clause in their contract.

Dispute Resolution

The Polish judicial system generally upholds the sanctity of contracts. Monetary judgments are usually made in local currency. Generally, foreign firms are wary of the slow and over-burdened Polish court system, preferring to rely on other means to defend their rights. Contracts involving foreign parties frequently include a clause specifying that disputes will be resolved in a third-country court or through offshore arbitration.

A permanent arbitration tribunal to settle disputes arising from international commercial activities operates through the Polish Chamber of Commerce.

Arbitration body decisions are not automatically enforceable in Poland; they must be confirmed in a Polish court. Under the Polish Civil Code, local courts accept and enforce judgments of foreign courts.

Poland is party to four international agreements on dispute resolution, with the Ministry of Finance acting as the government's representative:

  1. The 1923 Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses
  2. The 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of International Arbitration Awards
  3. The 1961 Geneva European Convention on International Trade Arbitration
  4. The 1972 Moscow Convention on Arbitration Resolution of Civil Law Disputes in Economic and Scientific Cooperation

Poland is not a member of the Washington Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States.

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Risk Assessment

Coface Country Rating: A3 -- Changes in generally good but somewhat volatile political and economic environment can affect corporate payment behavior. A basically secure business environment can nonetheless give rise to occasional difficulties for companies. Corporate default probability is quite acceptable on average.

Coface Business Climate Rating: A2 -- The political and economic situation is good. A basically stable and efficient business environment nonetheless leaves room for improvement. 

Ducroire Delcredere Political Risk Rating: 1 -- lowest risk
Ducroire Delcredere Commercial Risk Rating: A -- lowest risk

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Business Climate

Poland has a very stable economy and offers investors an attractive business environment. During the recent global economic downturn, Poland has been the only country in Europe to show growth in GDP.

Investors are attracted to Poland's well-educated, skilled, low-cost labor force. Although productivity remains below Western standards, it is rising rapidly, and unit costs are competitive. Its proximity to major markets and European Union (EU) membership are also a draw. Other positives include its political stability, strong economic performance in turbulent times, and its prospects for long-term growth.

In order to improve its economic performance over the longer term, Poland will need to address some of the remaining deficiencies in its road and rail infrastructure and its business environment. An inefficient commercial court system, a rigid labor code, bureaucratic red tape, burdensome tax system, and persistent low-level corruption keep the private sector from performing up to its full potential.

Economic Freedom: According to the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, Poland's economic freedom score is 69.3, making its economy the 39th freest in the 2016 Index. Poland is ranked 18th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is above the world average.

Market Access: A member of the European Union and NATO, Poland is a stable country with a commitment to free trade. It has free-trade agreements with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), parties to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), and bilaterally with the Baltic States, Turkey and Israel. Foreign companies generally enjoy unrestricted access to the Polish market. Polish law, however, limits foreign ownership of companies in selected strategic sectors, and still limits foreign acquisition of real estate, especially agricultural land.

Intellectual Property Rights: The Polish Government views protecting intellectual property (IP) rights as a core element of Poland's economic development. Its efforts have led to a significant reduction in the availability of pirated goods at border and open-air markets. Industry groups report they no longer consider physical piracy a serious problem in Poland, although the prevalence of internet piracy is a growing issue.

Exchange Control: Foreign currencies can be used freely for settling accounts. Foreign exchange is widely available through commercial banks as well as exchange offices. Payments and remittances in convertible currency may be made and received through a bank authorized to engage in foreign exchange transactions, and most banks have such authorization.

Corruption: Poland has laws, regulations, and penalties aimed at combating corruption. Although corruption remains a recognized and continuing problem, its scale and impact on economic growth and development has considerably diminished in the past decade, as the Polish parliament established the Central Corruption Office (CBA) which answers directly to the office of the Prime Minister and is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for investigating public corruption.

Political Violence: Poland is a politically stable country. Constitutional transfers of power are orderly. There have been no confirmed incidents of politically motivated violence toward foreign investment projects in recent years. Poland has neither belligerent neighbors nor insurgent groups.

For more detailed information on these topics, visit the 2015 Investment Climate Statement - Poland, U.S. Department of State

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Business Protocol in Country

  • For meetings at large corporations dress conservatively.  For smaller companies, executives will typically be dressed in a casual business style with slacks or even jeans and a sweater or jacket. The Polish do not appreciate displays of wealth, so keep jewelry to a minimum and avoid flashy, expensive clothing. Make sure that clothing is clean and well-pressed.
  • Punctuality is important. If you anticipate that you will be late, send a text message or call your host. Appointments should be made a week in advance and confirmed a day or two before.
  • Have plenty of business cards on hand, and offer yours first, upon introduction.
  • When entering the boardroom, wait for your host to point out your seat.
  • Speak conservatively and be brief when making presentations. Long silences are part of the Polish business culture; do not make small talk during this time.
  • The Polish feel that relationship building is important in business. Meet over a cup of coffee or dessert or for lunch. Make small talk before discussing business, and don't be too pushy or overt with business topics during the meal.
  • A firm handshake upon meeting or leaving is standard; do not exhibit demonstrative behavior such as hugging or backslapping with business clients.
  • Showing respect to older people is a big part of the culture in Poland. Open doors or give up your seat on the bus or train to an elderly person. It is also standard etiquette in Poland to open and hold doors for women.

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Sources for further information on doing business in Poland

American Chamber of Commerce in Poland

Polish American Chamber of Commerce

United States Diplomatic Mission to Warsaw, Poland

Ten Interesting Facts About Poland

  1. Famous Poles include classical composer Frederic Chopin, born to a Polish mother and a French expatriate father; scientist and Nobel laureate, Marie Curie (born Marie Sklodowska); writer, Joseph Conrad; and cosmetics industrialist, Helena Rubenstein.
  2. Poland boasts 17 Nobel prize winners, including four Peace Prizes and five in Literature.
  3. Polish born astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was the first person to propose that the earth was not the center of the universe.
  4. Some Polish beer is 10% alcohol.
  5. Przystanek Woodstock is the biggest open-air festival in Europe–an annual free rock music festival in Poland, inspired by and named for the Woodstock Festival.
  6. Polish people have the largest households (avg. 2.84 persons) in the European Union.
  7. Over 50% of the land in Poland is dedicated to farming.
  8. Polish Generals Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski fought in the American Revolutionary War.
  9. Central Europe's only desert is located in Poland between Krakow and Czestochowa.
  10. The major Christmas celebration in Poland takes place on Christmas Eve (Wigilia).

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This information is provided by ABC-Amega Inc. Providing international receivable management and debt collection services for exporters to more than 200 countries including Poland. For further information, contact info@abc-amega.com.

This report represents a compilation of information from a wide variety of reputable sources.

Comparative Economic Indicators: CIA World Factbook

Risk Assessment information: Coface Country Rating, and Ducroire/Delcredere.

Exchange Rates: OANDA.com The Currency Site.