Poland flag Poland: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Poland

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

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, with GDP returning to its pre-pandemic level already in the second quarter of 2021. Overall, the Polish economy grew an estimated 5.1% over the year, underpinned by increased consumer spending and investment (IMF). With the country’s main trading partners gradually recovering, dynamic private consumption, and increased companies’ investment, economic growth is expected to remain strong this year (+5.1%) and in 2023 (3.5%) according to the latest IMF forecast, though much will depend on the global economic and sanitary recovery.

An expansionary fiscal policy – which included the decision to lower the retirement age and increase transfers to pensioners and households with children - has been deepening the public deficit in recent years, a trend that was accelerated by the COVID-19-induced crisis: the general government budget was negative by 4% of GDP in 2021, mostly due to the cost of measures to contain the impact of the pandemic and of a one-off additional pension payment, which is estimated to have caused an increase in the 2021 headline deficit of almost 0.5% of GDP alone. Nevertheless, government revenues have been increasing and will benefit from resumed consumption and the favourable labour market conditions in 2022, with the deficit forecasted to stabilize around 2% this year and the next (IMF). Though still relatively low, debt-to-GDP ratio also saw an increase in the last couple of years, jumping to 55.5% in 2021 from a pre-pandemic level of 45.6%. Sustained economic growth should contribute to a decline in the ratio, to 53.3% this year and 52.1% in 2023. Rising energy prices, growing demand and supply-side bottlenecks have contributed to a steady and robust hike in inflation, which stood at 4.4% in 2021. The IMF expects inflation to gradually ease over the forecast horizon, landing at 2.8% in 2023. Nevertheless, the European Commission warns that a higher-than-expected increase in inflation arising from supply constraints and labour shortages may weigh on purchasing power and private consumption growth.

The unemployment rate has been structurally low in recent years (just above 3%), though more than 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 (in 2022, minimum wage rises and tax changes associated with the “Polish Deal” fiscal stimulus programme will add to wage pressures). After reaching 3.5% in 2021, the IMF forecasts a drop in unemployment to 3.2% in 2022 and 3% the following year. The GDP per capita (PPP) of Polish citizens was USD 35,957 in 2021, still 23.3% 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 201920202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 597.19595.92e655.33720.35776.33
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 4.7-2.75.44.63.7
GDP per Capita (USD) 15,72715,699e17,31819,05620,562
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -1.4-6.4-4.0-2.0-2.0
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 45.657.5e55.553.352.1
Inflation Rate (%) 2.33.4e5.18.910.3
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 3.33.2e3.53.23.0
Current Account (billions USD) 2.9320.5514.8111.204.79
Current Account (in % of GDP) 0.53.42.31.60.6

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

In Poland, agriculture employs 9.1% of the active population and contributes about 2.5% 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 main crops are rye, potatoes, beetroot, wheat and dairy products. Poland also breeds pigs and sheep in livestock farming. The country is relatively rich in natural resources and the main minerals produced are coal, sulphur, copper, lead and zinc. According to the Polish Agricultural Market Agency (ARR), there are roughly 1.5 million small family farms of less than 9 ha in the country. The average area of agricultural land of farms amounted to 11.1 ha in 2020 (Statistics Poland – latest data).

The industry sector contributes 27.7% of GDP and employs 32.1% of the workforce. The World Bank estimates that the manufacturing industry's value-added amounted to 16% of the Polish GDP in 2020 (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, as the steel and shipbuilding industries. The Polish automobile industry is mainly export-oriented and had been highly resistant to the effects of the 2008 economic crisis; however, it has been the worst-hit domestic sector in the coronavirus pandemic. In recent years, the country has diversified its manufacturing industry, developing sectors such as electrical appliances and clothing production.

The tertiary sector represents 57.8% of GDP, employing about 58.7% 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, with the number of tourists visiting the country reaching the record figure of 21.4 million in 2019. Nevertheless, the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic was heavy: according to data from the Central Statistical Office, in 2020 the number of domestic tourists was 43% lower than one year earlier, a percentage that goes up to 70% for foreign tourists. Concerning the banking sector, it is made up of 30 commercial banks (of which 8 are controlled by the State Treasury, accounting for 44.2% of the sector’s total assets), 530 cooperative banks and 36 branches of credit institutions (European Banking Federation).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 9.1 32.1 58.7
Value Added (in % of GDP) 2.4 28.2 57.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) -3.0 -1.0 -4.4

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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Latest Update: June 2022

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