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Poland: Market Profile

Picture: Poland market factsheet
Graph: Poland market factsheet

1. Overview

Poland has reached high-income status over a relatively short period of time and this has translated into remarkable progress in poverty reduction and shared prosperity. Few middle-income countries have experienced such consistent broad-based growth, both fast and stable. This transition benefited from increases in productivity, strengthened institutions, human capital investments, and sound macroeconomic management. However, despite a successful performance so far, a coherent set of policies is needed to respond to long-term challenges and opportunities, including managing one of the most rapidly ageing societies in Europe, urbanisation challenges and leveraging technological change.

Sources: Fitch Solutions, World Bank

2. Major Economic/Political Events and Upcoming Elections

December 2017
Mateusz Morawiecki took over as prime minister of the Law and Justice party (PiS) government. The resignation of Prime Minister Beata Szydło and subsequent promotion of deputy prime minister and minister of economic development and finance Mateusz Morawiecki marked significant changes within the governing PiS leadership.

July 2018
General Electric (GE) signed a contract with Elektrownia Ostroleka to build a 1GW ultra-supercritical coal power plant in northeast Poland. Under the contract, GE would design and construct the power plant as well as manufacture and deliver boiler and steam turbine generators. GE will also supply air quality control systems in accordance with the latest EU standards in terms of local emissions. GE stated that its equipment would offer 46% efficiency, against the global average of 33%. The power plant, called Ostroleka C, was likely to generate sufficient power for 300,000 Polish homes. The plant was expected to start operating in 2023, according to a GE press release.

October 2018
Poland's ruling PiS party increased its hold on regional parliaments following local elections.

Sources: BBC country profile – Timeline, Fitch Solutions

3. Major Economic Indicators

Graph: Poland real GDP and inflation
Graph: Poland real GDP and inflation
Graph: Poland GDP by sector (2017)
Graph: Poland GDP by sector (2017)
Graph: Poland unemployment rate
Graph: Poland unemployment rate
Graph: Poland current account balance
Graph: Poland current account balance

e = estimate, f = forecast
Sources: IMF, World Bank, Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

4. External Trade

4.1 Merchandise Trade

Graph: Poland merchandise trade
Graph: Poland merchandise trade

Source: WTO
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

Graph: Poland major export commodities (2017)
Note: Value less than 1% is not included (unclassified products)
Graph: Poland major export commodities (2017)
Note: Value less than 1% is not included (unclassified products)
Graph: Poland major export markets (2017)
Graph: Poland major export markets (2017)
Graph: Poland major import commodities (2017)
Graph: Poland major import commodities (2017)
Graph; Poland major import markets (2017)
Graph; Poland major import markets (2017)

Sources: Trade Map, Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

4.2 Trade in Services

Graph: Poland trade in services
Graph: Poland trade in services

e = estimate
Source: WTO
Date last reviewed: October 8, 2018

5. Trade Policies

  • Poland has been a member of WTO since July 1, 1995 and a member of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) since October 18, 1967.

  • Poland has been a member of the European Union (EU) since 2004. All EU member states are WTO members.

  • Trade flows are largely unhindered by import tariffs, which at 1.5% on average, are among the lowest in the world, and non-tariff barriers to trade are minimal. There are no currency controls or import substitution policies that would burden importers, and trade standards and policies adhere to EU rules.

  • Poland applies the EU's Common External Tariff (CET), which means goods manufactured and imported from within the EU are not subject to customs charges. The average tariff rate for EU states is just 1%, which is among the lowest globally, although goods imported from outside the EU will incur duties of between 0%-17%.

  • The EU has imposed various anti-dumping measures on a wide range of products, predominantly in the areas of textiles, machine parts, steel, iron and machinery on goods coming from mainland China and a few other Asian nations, to protect domestic industries. Currently, a number of mainland China-origin products are subject to duties, including bicycles, bicycle parts, ceramic tiles, ceramic tableware and kitchenware, fasteners, ironing boards and solar glass, which are of interest to Hong Kong and regional exporters. In November 2016, the European Commission (EC) imposed a provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of some primary and semi-processed metals from mainland China. The rate of duty is between 43.5% and 81.1% of the net free-at-Union-frontier price before duty, depending on the company. In the same vein, the rate of duty for similar goods from Belarus is 12.5% of the net free-at-Union-frontier price before duty. As of end December 2018, the EU did not apply any anti-dumping measures on imports from Hong Kong.

  • In 2016, the EC introduced an import licensing regime for steel products exceeding 2.5 tonnes. The regulation will be active until May 15, 2020.

  • In February 2018, the Polish government officially enacted its Act on Electromobility and Alternative Fuels. The Act will introduce excise duty exemptions for electric vehicles (EVs), tax exemptions for companies using EVs, a new government procurement plan based on electrifying its government fleet, as well as support for charging infrastructure development. This reform will position Poland well in terms of attracting investors that are higher up on the automotive and technology value chains.

  • Value-added tax (VAT) is charged at a rate of 23% on the sale of goods, services and imports; 0% applies to exports and supplies of goods within the EU. Reduced rates (are applicable to specified goods and services indicated in the VAT Act, such as food, agricultural products and medical equipment).

  • In April 2015, the Polish parliament amended the pharmaceutical law, restricting exports of medicinal products from the country. The amendment also introduced strict reporting obligations for marketing authorisation holders and warehouses.

Sources: WTO - Trade Policy Review, Fitch Solutions

6. Trade Agreement

6.1 Multinational Trade Agreements


  1. Poland is a member of the WTO since July 1, 1995 and the EU since 2004.

  2. The EU: The EU is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. As an EU member, Poland applies the EU Common External Tariff and enjoys tariff-free trade within the EU. Within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency; however, Poland maintains its own currency.

  3. EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA): This was provisionally applied as of September 21, 2017. The agreement is expected to boost trade between partners as CETA removes all tariffs on industrial products traded between the EU and Canada. CETA also opens up government procurement. Canadian companies will be able to bid on opportunities at all levels of the EU government procurement market and vice-versa, though some sectors are restricted. The agreement will only enter into force fully and definitively when all EU member states have ratified the agreement.

  4. EU-Europe Free Trade Association (EFTA): This includes Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. The European Economic Area (EEA) unites the EU member states and the four EEA EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules. The agreement on the EEA, which entered into force on January 1, 1994, aims to enable goods, services, capital and persons to move freely about the EEA in an open and competitive environment, a concept referred to as the four freedoms.

  5. EU-Turkey: The customs union within the EU provides tariff-free access to the European market for Turkey, benefitting both exporters and importers.

  6. EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA): In July 2018, the EU and Japan signed a trade deal that promises to eliminate 99% of tariffs that cost businesses in the EU and Japan nearly EUR1 billion annually. According to the EC, the EU-Japan EPA will create a trade zone covering 600 million people and nearly a third of global GDP. The result of four years of negotiation, the EPA was finalised in late 2017 and came into force on February 1, 2019 after the EU Parliament ratified the agreement in December 2018. The total trade volume of goods and services between the EU and Japan is an estimated EUR86 billion. The key parts of the agreement will cut duties on a wide range of agricultural products and it seeks to open up services markets, particularly financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport. Japan is the EU's second biggest trading partner in Asia after mainland China. EU exports to Japan are dominated by motor vehicles, machinery, pharmaceuticals, optical and medical instruments, and electrical machinery.

  7. EU-SADC EPA (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland): An agreement between EU and SADC delegations was reached in 2016 and is fully operational for SADC members following the ratification of the agreement by Mozambique. The remaining six member of SADC no included in the deal (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are seeking economic partnership agreements with the EU as part of other trading blocs – such as with East or Central African communities.

Ratification Pending

EU-Central America Association Agreement (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize and the Dominican Republic): An agreement between the parties was reached in 2012 and is awaiting ratification (29 of the 34 parties have ratified the agreement as of October 2018). The agreement has been provisionally applied since 2013.

Under Negotiation

  1. EU-Australia: EU, Australia's second-largest trade partner, has launched negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement with Australia. Bilateral trade in goods between the two partners has risen steadily in recent years, reaching almost EUR48 billion in 2017, while bilateral trade in services added an additional EUR27 billion. The negotiations aim at removing trade barriers, streamlining standards and putting European companies exporting to or doing business in Australia on an equal footing with those from countries that have signed up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership or other trade agreements with Australia. The Council of the EU authorised opening negotiations for a trade agreement between the EU and Australia on May 22, 2018.

  2. EU-United States (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership): This agreement was expected to increase trade and services, but it is unlikely to pass under the Trump administration in the United States against the backdrop of rising global trade tensions.

  3. EU-Vietnam FTA: In July 2018, the EU and Vietnam agreed on final texts for the EU-Vietnam FTA and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). As of January 2019, the final text of the agreement has been finalised and is awaiting signature and conclusion.

Sources: WTO Regional Trade Agreements database, Fitch Solutions

7. Investment Policy

7.1 Foreign Direct Investment

Graph: Poland FDI stock
Graph: Poland FDI stock
Graph: Poland FDI flow
Graph: Poland FDI flow

Source: UNCTAD
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

7.2 Foreign Direct Investment Policy

  1. Government bodies responsible for foreign direct investment (FDI) promotion, licensing and regulations: There are a variety of Polish agencies involved in investment promotion. The Economic Development Ministry has two departments involved in investment promotion and facilitation: The Large Investment Support Department and the International Relations Departments. The Foreign Affairs Ministry promotes Poland’s foreign relations, including economic relations, and along with the Polish Chamber of Commerce, organises missions of Polish firms abroad and hosts foreign trade missions to Poland. Starting February 2017, the Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH) replaced the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency as the main institution responsible for the promotion and facilitation of foreign investment. The rebranding is connected with the expansion of the scope of the agency's activities. Apart from providing services to investors in the country, PAIH will support Polish investors abroad. The agency will operate as part of the Polish Development Fund, which integrates government development agencies. PAIH will coordinate all operational instruments, such as diplomatic missions, commercial fairs and programmes dedicated to specific markets and sectors, as well as promote the Polish economy and attract foreign investors to the country. These services are available to all investors.

  2. Related laws and regulations on foreign investment are well established; however, some restrictions still remain on FDI such as limits on foreign ownership and business activity in core sectors. The Act on the Control of Certain Investments entered into force in 2015 and provides for the screening of acquisitions in energy generation and distribution; petroleum production, processing and distribution; telecommunications; and the manufacturing and trade of explosives, weapons and ammunition.

  3. Poland's support for foreign investors is generally sectoral in focus; regional support is provided in the context of sectoral investments. Any company investing in Poland, either foreign or domestic, may apply for assistance from the Polish government. Foreign investors have the potential to access grants and certain incentives. There are 14 special economic zones located throughout Poland on major supply chain routes. The benefits available for locating in these zones include income tax exemption, real estate tax exemption, competitive land prices and close access to high-quality local suppliers.

  4. Foreign ownership is permitted, with the exception of some sectors designated as strategic. Polish law restricts foreign investment in land and real estate. Polish law limits non-EU citizens to 49% ownership of a company's capital shares in the air transport, energy, radio and television broadcasting, and airport and seaport operations sectors.

  5. Licences and concessions for defence production and management of seaports are granted on the basis of national treatment for investors from OECD countries.

  6. Polish law restricts foreign investment in land and real estate. Since Poland's EU accession, foreign citizens from EU member states and EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) do not need permission to purchase non-agricultural real estate, or to acquire or receive shares in a company owning non-agricultural real estate in Poland. Land usage types, such as technology and industrial parks, business and logistic centres, transport, housing plots, farmland in special economic zones, household gardens and plots up to two hectares are exempt from agricultural land purchase restrictions. Citizens from countries other than the EU and EFTA are allowed to purchase an apartment, 0.4 hectares of urban land, or up to half a hectare of agricultural land with building restrictions and restrictions on eligibility for government support programmes. In order to make large commercial real estate purchases, foreign citizens must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Interior (with the consent of the Defence and Agriculture Ministries), pursuant to the Act on Acquisition of Real Estate by Foreigners. Laws to restrict farm land and forest purchases came into force on April 30, 2016.

Sources: WTO – Trade Policy Review, government websites, Fitch Solutions

7.3 Free Trade Zones and Investment Incentives

Free Trade Zone/Incentive ProgrammeMain Incentives Available
There are 14 SEZs located throughout Poland on major supply chain routes- Exemption from custom duties and VAT

- Competitive land prices

- Real estate tax, Income tax exemption

- Good access to high quality local suppliers

- The amount of government aid available to investors is subject to the EU's aid intensity programme, whereby projects in less developed regions benefit from incentives up to 50% of the costs of new investment, with this percentage falling to 10% in the most developed region, Warsaw. Investment grants of up to 50% of investment costs (or 70% for small or medium-sized enterprises) are available; grants for research and development; grants for other activities such as environmental protection, training, logistics, or use of renewable energy sources.

Sources: US Department of Commerce, Fitch Solutions

8. Taxation – 2019

  • Value Added Tax: 23%
  • Corporate Income Tax: 19%

Sources: Poland National Revenue Administration, Fitch Solutions

8.1 Important Updates to Taxation Information

Poland's tax regime is applied evenly to both resident and non-resident businesses. In June 2018 new regulations concerning special economic zones entered into force. The new rules significantly change the situation for investors planning to get income tax incentives in relation to new investment projects. Zonal permits are no longer issued by the authorities, but entities may apply for decisions based on the new regulations. The biggest change in the special economic zone system is its availability, as obtaining a tax incentive does not depend on the location of the new investment.

8.2 Business Taxes

Type of TaxTax Rate and Base
Corporate Income Tax19%; The 15% corporate tax rate applies to startups with revenue not exceeding EUR1.2 million.
Branch Tax19% on profits
Capital Gains TaxTreated as taxable income; 19%
Withholding Tax (interest, royalties, services)20% on net earnings
VAT23% on sale of goods, services and imports; 0% applies to exports and supplies of goods within the EU. Reduced rates are applicable to specified goods and services indicated in the VAT act, such as food, agricultural products and medical equipment.

Sources: National sources, Poland National Revenue Administration, Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

9. Foreign Worker Requirements

9.1 Localisation Requirements

Foreigners can only be employed in positions for which no suitable candidate could be found within Poland or in other EU member states. After a five-year period, EU citizens acquire the status of permanent resident if they continue to fulfil the respective conditions.

9.2 Obtaining Foreign Worker Permits for Skilled Workers

In order to employ foreign workers from outside the EU, businesses must apply for work permits according to the type of activity the worker will undertake and the length of their stay in Poland. The rules and regulations regarding labour mobility are broadly in line with EU directives, allowing for the free movement of labour within the EU. People from the EU do not need a work permit, but their employer must inform the job office about their being hired. Most non-EU citizens require a work visa and permit in order to work in the country – which generally takes about a month to obtain.

9.3 Blue Card

The Blue Card is intended for the stay of a highly qualified employee. A foreigner holding a Blue Card may reside in Poland and work in the job for which the Blue Card was issued or change that job under the conditions defined. High qualification means a duly completed university education or higher professional education which lasted for at least three years. The Blue Card is issued with a term of validity three months longer than the term for which the employment contract has been concluded; however, this is for a maximum period of two years. The Blue Card can be extended. One of the conditions for issuing the Blue Card is a wage criterion – the employment contract must contain gross monthly or yearly wage at least 1.5 times the gross average annual wage.

9.4 Visa/Travel Restrictions

The work permit holder must have worked and resided in Poland lawfully for at least two continuous years before becoming eligible to sponsor accompanying family members for residence in Poland. Dependants and family members that are non-EU/EEA citizens must enter Poland as tourists and obtain visas according to their nationality. Businesses that bring workers with family members that are EU/EEA/Swiss nationals can enter Poland with a valid identification document confirming their citizenship. Family members of EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who are not citizens of these countries can enter Poland with a valid travel document and a visa, if required. After a continuous period of residence of five years on Polish territory, an EU/EEA/Swiss national obtains permanent resident status. The European Parliament and the Council of the EU have tightened the Schengen Borders Code regulations on external border crossings. Effective April 7, 2017 all persons crossing an external border undergo thorough checks.

Sources: Government websites, Fitch Solutions

10. Risks

10.1 Sovereign Credit Ratings

Rating (Outlook)Rating Date
A2 (Stable)12/05/2017
Standard & Poor'sA- (Stable)12/10/2018
Fitch Ratings
A- (Stable)12/10/2018

Sources: Moody's, Standard & Poor's, Fitch Ratings

10.2 Competitiveness and Efficiency Indicators

World Ranking
Ease of Doing Business Index24/19027/19033/190
Ease of Paying Taxes Index47/19051/19069/190
Logistics Performance Index
Corruption Perception Index
IMD World Competitiveness38/6334/63N/A

Sources: World Bank, IMD, Transparency International

10.3 Fitch Solutions Risk Indices

World Ranking
Economic Risk Index RankN/A33/20239/202
Short-Term Economic Risk Score72.572.568.8
Long-Term Economic Risk Score72.670.169.0
Political Risk Index RankN/A40/20240/202
Short-Term Political Risk Score70.869.669.6
Long-Term Politica Risk Score81.675.675.6
Operational Risk Index RankN/A30/20129/201
Operational Risk Score69.269.569.6

100 = Lower risk; 0 = higher risk
Source: Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

10.4 Fitch Solutions Risk Summary

Poland's long-term economic risk reflects the country's solid growth trajectory and steady convergence with Western EU member states. Poland's large domestic market, by regional standards, provides a measure of protection against a volatile global economy and uncertainty regarding eurozone stability and the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU. Looking ahead, real GDP growth will remain strong over 2019-2028, public debt is low and unemployment has fallen sharply to its lowest level since Poland's independence in 1991.

Poland offers an attractive investment destination, benefitting from access to a large domestic and regional consumer market, EU membership and a diversified domestic manufacturing base, all of which are key elements that support healthy growth in trade and investment. The country boasts a well-developed domestic financial market and broad investment incentives. Cross-border trade is facilitated by strong road and rail connections to neighbouring states as well as international maritime connections. However, there are some key risks to consider, including the government's increasingly populist leanings, high exposure to demand shocks in key export markets, a shrinking labour pool and regionally uncompetitive utilities costs.

Source: Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

10.5 Fitch Solutions Political and Economic Risk Indices

Graph: Poland short term political risk index
Graph: Poland short term political risk index
Graph: Poland long term political risk index
Graph: Poland long term political risk index
Graph: Poland short term economic risk index
Graph: Poland short term economic risk index
Graph: Poland long term economic risk index
Graph: Poland long term economic risk index

100 = Lowest risk; 0 = Highest risk
Source: Fitch Solutions Economic and Political Risk Indices
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

10.6 Fitch Solutions Operational Risk Index

Operational RiskLabour Market RiskTrade and Investment RiskLogistics RiskCrime and Security Risk
Poland Score69.655.669.475.078.4
Central and Eastern Europe Average59.354.260.463.759.1
Central and Eastern Europe Position (out of 11)24
Emerging Europe Average55.953.857.757.055.2
Emerging Europe Position (out of 31)2102
Global Average49.649.749.949.049.8
Global Position (out of 201)2956302427

100 = Lowest risk; 0 = highest risk
Source: Fitch Solutions Operational Risk Index

Graph: Poland vs global and regional averages
Graph: Poland vs global and regional averages
Operational Risk IndexLabour Market Risk Index
Trade and Investment Risk IndexLogistics Risk IndexCrime and Security Risk Index
Czech Republic70.9
Regional Averages61.8
Emerging Markets Averages46.7
Global Markets Averages49.6

100 = Lowest risk; 0 = highest risk
Source: Fitch Solutions Operational Risk Index
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

11. Hong Kong Connection

11.1 Hong Kong’s Trade with Poland

Graph: Major export commodities to Poland (2018)
Graph: Major export commodities to Poland (2018)
Graph: Major import commodities from Poland (2018)
Graph: Major import commodities from Poland (2018)

Note: Graph shows the main Hong Kong exports to/imports from Poland (by consignment)
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

Graph: Merchandise exports to Poland
Graph: Merchandise exports to Poland
Graph: Merchandise imports from Poland
Graph: Merchandise imports from Poland

Note: Graph shows Hong Kong exports to/imports from Poland (by consignment)
Exchange Rate HK$/US$, average
7.76 (2014)
7.75 (2015)
7.76 (2016)
7.79 (2017)
7.83 (2018)
Source: Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

Growth rate (%)
Number of Poland residents visiting Hong Kong29,136

Source: Hong Kong Tourism Board

Growth rate (%)
Number of European residents visiting Hong Kong1,929,824-0.2

Source: Hong Kong Tourism Board
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

11.2 Commercial Presence in Hong Kong

Growth rate (%)
Number of EU companies in Hong Kong2,107
- Regional headquarters442
- Regional offices717
- Local offices948

Source: Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department

11.3 Treaties and Agreements between Hong Kong and Poland

Poland has double taxation agreements (DTA) with mainland China but there are no separate agreements in place with Hong Kong. Mainland China has a DTA with Poland covering dividends (10%), royalties (0/10%) and interest (7/10%).

Source: Hong Kong Department of Justice

11.4 Chamber of Commerce (or Related Organisations) in Hong Kong

The Poland Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce

The Poland Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce was establised in 2009 with the aim of supporting individuals and businesses based locally and also promoting trade, networking and investment in Hong Kong.

Address: Level 3A Causeway Corner, 18 Percival street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Email: info@polcham.hk

Source: The Poland Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce

Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Hong Kong
Address: Room 2506, Hopewell Centre, 183 Queens Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Email: hongkong.kg.info@msz.gov.pl
Tel: (852) 2840 0779 / 2840 0804
Fax: (852) 2596 0062

Source: Hong Kong Protocol Division of Government Secretariat

11.5 Visa Requirements for Hong Kong Residents

Generally, Hong Kong residents do not need a visa to visit the Schengen area for a stay of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If a visa is required, a visa application must be completed prior to travel. It is obligatory to register the visa application online prior to visiting the Consulate. The visa process takes 15 calendar days from the date of submitting the application. However, the time may vary according to the nature of the case and the number of applications submitted at the same time. The visa fee is EUR60.

Sources: Hong Kong Immigration Department, Poland government websites
Date last reviewed: February 11, 2019

Content provided by Picture: Fitch Solutions – BMI Research