AN ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE IN CENTRAL EUROPE
Poland ranks number one in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of both GDP and market size: It has nearly 40 million inhabitants, and its GDP is approximately $600 billion USD (slightly larger than that of Massachusetts or North Carolina). Poland is also the only country in the European Union that enjoyed more than a quarter century without a recession, until the advent of COVID-19. The impact of the pandemic on the Polish economy is expected to be a 3.6% contraction, compared to a 7.4% projected decline across the EU as a whole, and growth above 4% is projected for the Polish economy in 2021.
Despite Poland’s economic strength, its trade ties with Wisconsin have been underdeveloped, but are growing rapidly. Wisconsin’s total exports to Poland in 2020 were just over $84 million, with certain sectors logging very strong growth. Exports of electrical machinery from Wisconsin to Poland grew by 57%; medical and scientific instruments by 47%; and prepared vegetables, fruits and nuts by 39% in 2020 over the prior year. In January 2021, Wisconsin exports to Poland topped $14.1 million, whereas they reached just $5.8 million in January 2020 before the pandemic began to disrupt international trade.
To adapt to the pandemic, WEDC has converted its Global Trade Ventures into a virtual format that consists of online meetings between Wisconsin companies and potential customers, distributors and other prospective partners in international markets. After learning about your company and products, WEDC’s in-country trade representatives will bring potential partners and distributors to you. All participants need to do is show up ready to make their pitch and ask questions to determine if the potential partner is a good fit.
It can be in times of crisis that new opportunities arise. Your company can emerge stronger from the economic downturn if you take steps now to pursue opportunities and new ways of doing business—and WEDC is here to support you.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is organizing a virtual Global Trade Venture to Poland from June 14-25, 2021, to help Wisconsin companies export their products and services to Poland, and in the process develop more robust trade ties between the two markets.
Poland’s imports are dominated by manufacturing equipment and inputs that go into other products that can then be exported. Sectors of Wisconsin’s economy with the greatest export potential in Poland include industrial machinery, electronic equipment, optical products and medical equipment, plastics and chemicals. In general, Poland is a strong market for industrial and automation machinery, automotive parts, agricultural machinery, and food processing equipment and supplies.
Due to its location right next door to Germany and the fact that it still has a slight price advantage over German suppliers, Polish manufacturers are well-integrated suppliers of parts and components to German original equipment manufacturers. Wisconsin companies can, in turn, play a part in supplying parts, components and production machinery to these Polish firms.
Poland also has a vibrant information technology sector. The country has quietly developed into a leading video game exporter thanks to low labor costs; a young, educated workforce; and a gaming tradition rooted in Communist-era software swapping among teen users.
The capital city of Warsaw is a commercial hub and houses the headquarters of many companies, but there are a number of other important centers for different industries spread across the country. The virtual nature of this trade venture means that meetings are not limited by driving distance and transportation time, but rather, can be conveniently spread out across the whole country.
Polish companies generally hold positive attitudes about U.S.-made products and U.S. companies; well-established business relationships have existed between U.S. and Polish firms for many years. That being said, a Wisconsin company looking to export to Poland should have an understanding of the export process and should also have its products CE certified. Since so many competitors for Wisconsin firms can be found in neighboring Germany, Wisconsin exporters need to have developed a strong value proposition with distinct market differentiators. Companies with previous exporting experience can receive guidance in developing their pitch for the Polish market as part of their participation in the virtual trade venture.
MAKING BUSINESS CONNECTIONS VIRTUALLY
During the trade venture to Poland, participants will be scheduled for one-on-one meetings with potential partners in the market. These partners are identified based on each participating company’s specific goals and objectives. Each participant in the trade venture will also receive a Poland market assessment detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing their product or service into the market. WEDC has eyes and ears on the ground in Europe, in the form of Wisconsin’s in-market authorized trade representative—thus making it easier for Wisconsin companies to find local partners they can trust, taking some of the guesswork out of launching in a new market or growing exports within the market. With all your appointments arranged for you, you can focus on business rather than logistics and scheduling.
WEDC’s in-market trade rep will screen businesses for the best matches to your firm’s target partner, whether that’s a distributor, agent, or end-user customer. We will schedule video meetings for you with the best prospects and arrange for interpreters when needed. Participating in a virtual trade venture is much less expensive than traveling to the market for an exploratory visit. With a series of virtual meetings, you will be able to evaluate a number of candidates and select the top ones to visit and engage in more in-depth conversations once restrictions on international business travel are lifted.
Because of the time difference between Wisconsin and Poland, meetings will be held in the morning in Wisconsin/afternoon in Poland, over the span of a two-week period.