Poland’s trailer market

From the November 2015 issue.

Despite a successful 25 years of democracy and a decade of EU membership, Poland must continue to invest and develop if the next quarter of a century is to be as celebrated as the last.

Twenty-five years ago, the end of the Cold War touched off a sea change that swept all of central and eastern Europe, resulting in an economic and political transformation of historic scale.

Shaking off decades of state control, industries were privatised and market-based competition was introduced all throughout the region, with the young Republic of Poland quickest to embrace the new normal: Benefitting from a well-handled post-communist transition, it morphed into a low-cost manufacturing centre and embraced the opportunity to tie in to Germany’s powerful export machine.

Accession to the European Union in 2004 confirmed the success of Poland’s western-focused pathway, whose economy has since grown by a third, compared with little more than two per cent for the struggling Eurozone. Yet, experts like Leszek Balcerowicz, who masterminded Poland’s early 1990s economic adjustment, now warn that the nation’s long-proven growth model could soon be out-dated.

“Poland’s economy has been a great success relative to other post-communist countries for the past 25 years, but past successes do not guarantee future success,” he told the Financial Times in September after information surfaced that the nation’s capital market, while solid by regional standards, is still lagging behind expectations for 2015. With data also pointing out that Poland’s energy, mining and agriculture industries are in need of reforming to compete with the ever-so ambitious west, Balcerowicz was prompted to stress Poland’s tardiness in promoting an innovation and ideas-led economy while weaning itself off the low-cost-labour driven growth model that served so well until now.

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