Poland flag Poland: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Poland

Economic Indicators

Poland has emerged as a dynamic market over the past 25 years and has become a major actor within Europe, being the tenth-largest economy in the EU. The country recovered well from the global COVID-19-induced crisis and grew at a strong pace in 2022 (+5.1%). Nevertheless, the economy lost momentum and grew marginally in 2023 (+0.6%), due to falling private consumption and a negative contribution from inventories, whereas net exports contribute positively to growth due to a marked fall in imports. In 2024, GDP growth is expected to pick up reaching 2.3%, with private consumption as the key driver, boosted by higher real wages, increased public social support, and diminishing inflation. A further acceleration is anticipated in 2025, when the sustained expansion of private consumption, the growth of investments, including those funded by the EU, and an uptick in exports should bring the growth rate to 3.4% (IMF).

The general government deficit rose to 4% of GDP in 2023, up from 2.1% the previous year, attributed to higher spending on defence, public sector salaries, healthcare, subsidies to farmers, and augmented social benefits, particularly pension indexation. The net budgetary cost for reducing the impact of high energy prices stood at 0.6% of GDP due to falling commodity prices. Levies on windfall profits of energy producers funded part of the electricity and gas price freeze schemes. Additionally, the slow economic growth hampered the rise in revenues from indirect taxes. In 2024, the general government deficit is predicted to decline to 4.6% of GDP, aided by increased revenues amid the economic recovery. The debt-to-GDP ratio grew modestly in 2023, reaching 49.8% (+0.8% y-o-y). As the deflator effects dissipate, the debt ratio will rise at a faster pace, to 53.9% in 2025, in line with persistent primary fiscal deficits and higher average interest costs. Inflation reached its peak in 2023-H1 and averaged 12% over the year. In 2024, inflation is forecasted to drop to 6.4%, anticipating the conclusion of energy support measures and the zero VAT rate for certain foods. Persistent strong wage growth is expected to maintain elevated price pressures in services across the forecast horizon.

The unemployment rate has been structurally low in recent years (around 3%), though around one in four employees have temporary contracts, twice the EU average. The labour market has proved resilient to the crisis, although emerging labour shortages could act as a significant drag on employment growth in the near future. Despite a slowdown in economic activity in the first half of 2023, employment witnessed growth, with unemployment falling to 2.8%, a historical low. Real wages are expected to surge due to a significant minimum wage hike in 2024, while the unemployment rate remains broadly stable. The GDP per capita (PPP) of Polish citizens was USD 45,538 in 2023, still 20% lower than that of the EU-27 (data IMF). Finally, there are still large disparities between the east and the west of the country.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 688.25808.44844.62884.58937.79
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 5.30.23.13.53.3
GDP per Capita (USD) 18,27821,99623,01424,14425,646
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -4.0-5.5-5.7-5.5-5.1
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 49.350.855.157.759.5
Inflation Rate (%) 14.411.45.05.03.6
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 2.92.82.93.03.0
Current Account (billions USD) -16.7012.775.63-1.47-4.58
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.41.60.7-0.2-0.5

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

In Poland, agriculture employs 8% of the active population and contributes about 2.8% of GDP (World Bank, latest data available). More than 60% of Poland’s total land area is taken up by farming, and the country is generally self-sufficient in terms of its food supply. The sown area is 11 million ha, the main crops being rye, potatoes, beetroot, wheat and dairy products. Poland also breeds pigs and sheep in livestock farming. The sowing structure is dominated by cereals (65.6% of the total sown area), followed by fodder crops (13.6%) and industrial crops (12.7%). The country is relatively rich in natural resources and the main minerals produced are coal, sulphur, copper, lead and zinc. According to Eurostat, family farms generate more than 80% of the standard output from agriculture in Poland. Around 20,000 farms use organic farming production methods (Statistics Poland – latest data).

The industry sector comprises 28.1% of GDP and employs 31% of the workforce. The World Bank estimates that the manufacturing industry's value-added accounts for 17% of the Polish GDP (latest data available). The country's main industrial sectors are machine manufacturing, telecommunications, environment, transport, construction, industrial food processing and IT. Some of the traditional sectors have been in decline, such as the steel and shipbuilding industries. The Polish automobile industry is mainly export-oriented and has been highly resistant to the effects of the 2008 economic crisis; however, it has been the worst-hit domestic sector in the coronavirus pandemic (also due to the chip shortages). In recent years, the country has diversified its manufacturing industry, developing sectors such as electrical appliances and clothing production. According to the latest yearly data by Statistics Poland, the value of sold production of industrial products increased by 30.4% y-o-y in 2022.

The tertiary sector represents 56.9% of GDP, employing about 59% of the active population. The sector has been booming in recent years, especially for financial services, logistics, IT and tourism; this one, in particular, has seen impressive growth: after declining due to the COVID-related restrictions, the sector recovered quickly and in 2022 34.2 million tourists were accommodated in tourist accommodation establishments, with 90 million overnight stays (+54.3% and +43.2% y-o-y – Statistics Poland). Concerning the banking sector, it is made up of 30 commercial banks (of which 8 are controlled by the State Treasury, accounting for 41.1% of the sector’s total assets), 511 cooperative banks and 37 branches of credit institutions (European Banking Federation).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 8.4 30.9 60.7
Value Added (in % of GDP) 2.1 29.8 56.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) -1.7 7.0 4.0

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

Score:
69,7/100
World Rank:
41
Regional Rank:
25

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 

Business environment ranking

Definition:

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

Score:
7.07/10
World Rank:
30/82

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024

 

Country Risk

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Statistical Office
Polish Office of Statistics
Central Bank
European Central Bank
Polish Central Bank
Stock Exchange
Warsaw Stock Exchange (GPW)
Economic Portals
Business in Poland information website
Onet
 

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Latest Update: April 2024