After a presentation of the report and a brief overview of UK-Polish economic relations, participants discussed current economic developments in Poland and the region. The meeting took place at the Sky Bar at the Qubus Hotel in Katowice – on the 27th floor, the highest point in the city.
Anna Pisarek, senior manager with Grant Thornton went into the details of the results of the study showing an overall assessment of Poland and Upper Silesia in the eyes of investors, looking at their strengths and weaknesses, the changes that have occurred in the market over the past years and the foreign direct investment in Poland. Key findings from the study (as of December 2015):
- Of all foreign investors that have entered the Polish market, 98% expressed satisfaction and said
they would do it again
- The investment climate in Poland is very well rated and is at its highest level since 2007
- Economic stability is the greatest asset of Poland; bureaucracy is the biggest flaw
- Development of transport infrastructure has been the greatest achievement in recent years
The second speaker of the meeting was Michael Dembinski, the BPCC’s chief adviser. In his presentation, Mr Dembinski focused on the data related to trade between Poland and the UK, growing demand for Polish products in the UK, the impact of Polish migrants in shaping trade flows, and changing consumer behaviour in both countries since the 2004 enlargement of the EU.
Current events in the UK raised a lot of questions from attendees who wanted to know how realistic are the prospects of a Brexit, and should it happen, how likely would it be for Scotland to leave the UK. In the opinion of Mr Dembinski, it is in Poland’s economic and geopolitical interests for the UK to the remain within the EU, and Poland’s government should support Mr Cameron in his quest of EU reform. In particular, it lies in the interests of business for the EU to become more competitive, more innovative and less bureaucratic.
Many comments were sparked by the latest developments concerning the international downgrade for Poland’s foreign-currency debt by the rating agency Standards & Poor's to BBB +. The current assessment still places Poland on a strong level for investment, but also caused reactions in the financial markets, which affects the value of currencies. The current exchange rate (4.48 zł per 1 Euro) is beneficial for Polish exporters – and indeed for foreign businesses engaged in greenfield investment in Poland.
Lukasz Mazurek, senior sales executive from Ebury, which provides foreign-exchange services for companies trading abroad, commented on current exchange rates: "In our opinion, the US dollar will strengthen in the near future against almost all currencies. This will be caused by the latest and any subsequent interest rate hikes in the US. The appreciation of the dollar will be particularly evident in relation to the euro, because the ECB has decided to extend the existing programme of quantitative easing. In the first quarter of 2016, we assume appreciation of the Polish zloty against the euro and Swiss frank and its weakening against the dollar and sterling."
At the end of the meeting, Urszula Kwaśniewska, BPCC regional director for Kraków and Katowice, invited participants to the Second Export Forum, which will be held on 19 May 2016 in Krakow, which will be another opportunity to discuss Polish exports to Britain.