Economics and business
Although only 2 percent of GDP comes from the earthquake, Poland is in many ways still an agricultural country. However, since the transition to the market economy in the early 1990s, other sectors of the business sector have developed faster, such as the light manufacturing industry and the trade and service industries. However, the traditional heavy industry and the engineering industry, including the shipbuilding industry, have drastically decreased in importance.
During most of the 1990s, economic growth was good, on average 5 percent, and the country coped with the international financial crisis in 2008 better than many other European countries. During the 2010s, growth continued to be good (3 percent). The positive economic development depends, among other things, on on an increase in exports since EU accession in 2004, fiscal stimulus packages and cheap imports of oil and natural gas. Concern for Poland’s future economic development is that the country has a backlog of infrastructure and that a relatively small amount of research has been invested. In 2010, 0.75 percent of GDP was spent on research (the EU average was 2 percent).
During the period 1945–49, the Polish economy was focused on rebuilding the almost completely devastated industry during the war. Subsequently, (as in all other Eastern Bloc countries) the planning economy was introduced, and following an early Soviet model, a unilateral investment in the construction of a heavy industrial sector (primarily the iron, steel and engineering industries) was initiated. At the same time, the country’s former leading industry, agriculture, as well as the consumer goods industry were neglected. Without investment and modernization, agriculture and other parts of the industry became ineffective.
In the 1970s, to improve the abuses and bring about a renewal in business, large loans were taken in the West. Poland overcame its assets, and around 1980 there were obvious difficulties in providing for its residents. This, in conjunction with developments in other Eastern Europe, contributed to the fall of communism, and an economic system shift occurred at the New Year 1990. Free prices were introduced and several subsidies were abolished. Złotyn was devalued and made convertible and foreign competition was admitted to the Polish market. Extensive privatization of Polish business was also begun. On a smaller scale, this privatization has gone fast, while the process for large, state-owned companies has been slower.
During the first years of the 1990s, the country’s GDP fell sharply, but in 1992 came a turning point for business: industrial production showed an upturn for the first time in four years, and then GDP has gradually increased. A contributing reason for this was the increase in exports since joining the EU in 2004.
About half of the country’s area is usable land. Poland is among the world’s largest producers of rye, buckwheat, currant and raspberry. Other important crops are wheat, potatoes and apples. Livestock management and animal production are of greater economic importance than cultivation. It specializes in dairy products, beef, pork, chicken meat and eggs.
By far the largest proportion of agriculture is still small and mainly produces food for household needs. Only 1.5 percent of agriculture has over 200 hectares of land; these account for 90 percent of production.
About 1/3 of the area of Poland is forested. Coniferous forest dominates and is used in the pulp and paper industry as well as in the furniture industry. In recent years, significant new planting has taken place.
The total catch of the Polish fishing fleet in 2009 was approximately 224,000 tonnes, mainly crustacean, herring and cod. In the same year, about 36,000 tonnes of fish were grown, mainly carp and rainbow. The fisheries sector contributes below 0.01% to GDP.
Polish fishing covers three sectors:
- Coastal fishing conducted by smaller boats, often by part-time fishermen, and mainly fishing for cod, flatfish and herring.
- Fishing in the real Baltic Sea, which is mainly carried out by trawlers and which mainly fishes for herring and herring. Baltic fishing accounts for an overwhelming majority of the total Polish fishing catch. The catch is landed primarily in Polish ports and sold to the fish processing industry.
- Deep-sea fishing with trawl in the North-East and North-West Atlantic as well as in the Antarctic. The catch is dominated by krill (shrimp), but also acadian kingfish (Sebastes fasciatus), herring, cod and graylingare fished. The catch is cleared on board, landed in foreign ports and exported, mainly to the EU and Japan.
Poland imports almost as much fish as you fish. Imports are dominated by herring products and by raw salmon, which are processed and then exported again, mainly to Germany and Denmark.
Raw material resources and energy supply
Mining, mainly coal mining, has played a leading role in Poland’s business for centuries, but accounted for only 2 percent of GDP in 2010. The absolute majority of companies in the mining industry are now privately owned, although the state has significant (albeit decreasing) ownership in the fossil fuel production sector. Although the Katowice area in Górny Śląsk has suffered many closures in recent years, the area together with Wałbrzych in Dolny Śląsk is still the backbone of the country’s coal production. Lignite deposits are found in three areas in western Poland. Large deposits are also found of sulfur in the Kielce area in southeastern Poland and of copper in Głogów in western Poland.
Poland is the leading producer of coal in the EU, and one of the largest producer countries of lignite in the world. Total coal production in 2010 amounted to just over 130 million tonnes and the production trend is slowly declining. The dependence on coal for the country’s economy and energy supply is unlikely to change significantly in the foreseeable future, but production is moving in a more environmentally friendly direction towards less carbon dioxide emissions.
Poland is also one of the world’s leading producers of rhenium, silver and copper. Production of industrial minerals such as crushed aggregate, gravel, cement, feldspar, gypsum, limestone, salt and sulfur is significant. Economically, coal, cement and copper account for 2/3 of the production value of minerals.
Coal is the country’s most important energy raw material and export product and accounts for almost all electricity production. Next to coal, oil and natural gas are the most important sources of energy. Total production in 2010 amounted to just over 5 million barrels of crude oil and just under 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Crude oil is extracted in the Baltic Sea and on the Polish mainland, but over 95 percent of the country’s oil needs are covered by imports from the Russian Federation. Domestic natural gas production covers an estimated 1/3 of the total demand (2010), the remainder being imported mainly from the Russian Federation but also from Germany.
The production of renewable energy is in the shadow of primary energy production from fossil fuels. 10 percent of domestic energy production is based on renewable sources, of which 95 percent comes from the biofuel sector. Nuclear energy production is missing.
During the 1950s, a strong investment was made in the heavy industry. A large part of the Polish industry is currently located in the Katowice area, mainly. adjacent to the large coal mining district in Górny Śląsk. Here, since the 1840s, one of Europe’s largest industrial concentrations has been built up. By 1990, 30 major metallurgical industries had emerged next to 70 mines. The country’s by far the largest steel mill is located in Nowa Huta near Kraków. In addition, there is an extensive chemical industry in the Katowice area. The iron and metal sector is Poland’s dominant industry branch. The energy sector and the textile industry (traditionally located in Łódź) are other important industries. Along the Baltic Sea coast there are large shipyards, in Płock there is the petrochemical center of the country and in Poznań railway equipment is manufactured. Within the heavy sector of the industry, the privatization process has been slow and has led to major staff reductions. Despite large investments and foreign acquisitions, parts of the heavy industry still have profitability problems.
According to Countryaah, Poland’s foreign trade has undergone major changes in recent years. Until 1987, foreign trade was a state monopoly, and trade with the Soviet Union and the rest of the Eastern Bloc was dominant. As a number of trade restrictions were removed in 1990, trade with the West increased significantly; In 2017, the other EU countries’ share of exports and imports was about 70 percent. Trade with the Soviet Union was discontinued almost entirely in 1990, but in 1992 some recovery with the successor countries was noted, and the Russian Federation is now one of the country’s most important trading partners. The sharp increase in imports from the West initially gave Poland a large trade deficit, but during the 2000s exports increased and the deficit decreased. The most important individual trading partners are Germany. Among the export goods are engineering industrial products, furniture, food and coal.
Tourism and gastronomy
Since the mid-1990s, Poland has had a stable tourist influx of about 15 million tourists a year. However, as a result of the weak international economy, the number dropped to just under 13 million at the end of the 1990s. Almost 40 percent came from Germany, 12 percent from Ukraine and 7 percent from Belarus. The tourists are attracted by a beautiful and varied nature: in the north there are many miles of white beaches along the Baltic Sea, while mountain areas for example. winter sports are available in the south and southwest. Most famous is the Tatra Mountains.
A peculiar nature type is the Masurian lakes in the northeastern parts. There are thousands of lakes located in a very coniferous forest belt. Poland offers several cities with well-preserved medieval city centers, and the city centers that were destroyed during the war are rebuilt in the old style. Mainly mention is Kraków, but Warsaw and Gdańsk also have interesting inner cities. Other cities worth visiting are Wrocław, Poznań and Szczecin. Of particular interest is the brick castle Malbork, located at one of Wisla’s estuary arms. The castle is northern Europe’s largest medieval fortification.
Occupations and political upheavals have meant that Polish cuisine, which has its roots rooted in its own cabbage, exhibits distinctly Slavic and Jewish features. Pork, cabbage, mushrooms, soups, cumin and dumplings form the basis of the robust diet, characterized by old peasant traditions. The breakfast usually consists of bread, cheese and jam, sausage and eggs. The lunch is often a lighter goal. The main goal includes soup as a mandatory part; some of the most common are barszcz (beetroot soup), żurek (rye flour soup with sour cream), kapuśniak (soup with sauerkraut and potatoes) and krupnik (barley grain soup with vegetables and meat). Many of the fish dishes are characterized by Jewish heritage (marinated herring, herring in sour cream, cooked carp with horseradish).Bigos (sauerkraut stew with different kinds of meat, game and sausage) is the national dish in front of others. Boiled meat, e.g. golonka (pork belly with horseradish), pots that combine vegetables and meat and meat that is filled with e.g. Mushrooms are common. Among the game are wild boar, hare and deer. Vegetables (usually cauliflower) are eaten with a preference with chopped eggs and melted butter. Bread is often seasoned with cumin or poppy seeds, the latter also found in sweeter pastries, such as honey, nuts and jam.