Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: With one of the strongest economies in the EU, Poland is investing in bringing automation and robotics in line with leading economies in these areas.
Poland—the sixth-largest country geographically in the European Union, and with nearly 39 million inhabitants also the sixth-largest in terms of population—has logged enormous economic growth since entering the European Union in 2004. In 2019, the country posted a GDP of $592.4 billion USD, an increase of 4.5% over the prior year. The growth is attributable to increasing purchasing power of private households, a low unemployment rate, rising wages and the government's investments in social programs.
During the first wave of the pandemic, in spring 2020, Poland was able to keep the number of COVID-19 infections comparatively low and was consequently one of the EU markets least affected economically. Its GDP shrank by only 2.8% in 2020 (whereas 7.4% decrease was the EU average). While Poland has seen more infections in fall and sinter 2020-21, the forecast for 2021 remains positive, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development expects growth of 3% in 2021, making Poland the only EU member state expected to return to its pre-crisis economy size by the end of 2021.
Poland’s machinery and equipment industry has especially benefited from the economic growth of the last few years. As industrial production has been growing strongly—Poland reached the third-highest growth in the EU for industrial production in 2020—demand for new machinery has also increased. While the machinery industry has been among those most affected by COVID-19, with pre-sold production declining by 13.2% from January through October 2020, this has also led to the companies within the sector reconsidering their automation and digitization strategies as a result of production standstills in early 2020 as the pandemic began. In addition, the Polish government is currently planning new legislation to stimulate investment in automation in 2021. As a result, the European Commission expects a growth of 8.4% in investments in industrial machinery for 2021. This is highly necessary, as Poland’s industrial sector is still among the least digitized. For example, in terms of industrial robotics, Poland has 46 robots per 100,000 employees, compared to the global average of 113, and neighboring countries such as Czech Republic and Slovenia, with 147 and 157 robots per 100,000 employees respectively.
In 2020, Wisconsin companies exported goods worth $84.2 million to Poland--$3.2 million less than in 2019, but still indicating significant market potential, especially given the pandemic and resulting economic downturn.
While the Polish machinery industry has seen strong growth in recent years, new technology will be needed to remain competitive. The increasing necessity of investing in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions creates opportunities for Wisconsin businesses, especially those with solutions in robotics, artificial intelligence, sensors, software and hardware.
To get first insights into the market and learn more about current trends and demand, Warsaw Automatica Expo (Sept. 22-24, 2021) is the largest Polish trade show for industrial automation and robotics.