Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Domestic supply cannot keep up with demand, creating opportunities for Wisconsin companies.
Poland presents a great economic success story. Since leaving Communism behind, the country’s economy has been on an upward trajectory, with a GDP amounting to $586 billion—roughly 1.5 times the GDP of Wisconsin—and with growth reaching 5.1% in 2018, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. While growth is not expected to reach the same level in 2019 and 2020, the GDP is nevertheless predicted to grow by 3.5% and 4% respectively in those years. Furthermore, Poland has been the only post-Communist country where the income for 100% of society has grown faster than the G-7 average. Today, Poland has the largest economy of any former Soviet satellite state, and continues on its path of catching up with Western European countries.
Poland’s machinery industry has seen continuous growth in recent years. In the first half of 2018, the sector grew by 4.5%, while the machinery and equipment industry grew even more rapidly, at a rate of 7.1%. The manufacturing industry in Poland includes around 217,700 companies and approximately 3 million employees. Overall, manufacturing accounts for 27% of Poland’s GDP.
Due to the need to remain competitive, Polish businesses have increased their investment in goods such as machines and equipment. While the local machinery industry has profited from this, rising investment has especially increased the demand for imported goods, creating new opportunities for foreign exporters and investors. In 2018, Wisconsin exported $33 million worth of machinery, $20 million worth of computers and electronics, and around $3 million worth of electrical equipment to Poland.
Polish manufacturers in the machinery industry are modernizing and turning toward Industry 4.0. However, only 15% of manufacturers have already completed the automation process. Predictably, the need to catch up to stay competitive will lead to further investment in imported machinery and equipment.
While exports have been increasing, the Polish machinery industry still relies on imports. Polish machinery imports, including computers, amounted to $32.9 billion in 2018, and constituted 12.4% of total imports, while Poland imported electrical machinery and equipment worth $30.6 billion (11.5% of total imports). Industrial machinery, including computers as well as electric machinery, were Wisconsin’s two largest export categories in 2018, signaling a match between what Wisconsin companies make and what the Polish market needs.
As Poland’s machinery industry continues to grow, and as businesses continue to modernize and automate, they still rely on imports as well as expertise from abroad. This presents ample opportunities for U.S. exporters. A great way to get to know the local market and to meet potential partners is presented by visiting trade fairs. One of them is ITM Poland, which will be held in Pozna from June 4-7, 2019, with a focus on Industry 4.0. The largest fair in Eastern and Central Europe in this sector, it will feature production automation, metallurgy and metalworking, and modern machines and technologies. Warsaw Industry Week, which takes place from Nov. 13-15, 2019, gathers firms from across the machinery industry. The largest event of its kind in Eastern Europe, the fair is fully dedicated to the industrial sector and will feature businesses in machine processing of wood, metal and plastics, among many other industries.