Poland ignores CEE slump as it wows investors

By bne IntelliNews June 26, 2012

Tim Gosling in Prague -

Powered by the country's robust macro figures and strong economic development, Poland ranks as the second best destination in Europe according to a new survey by Ernst & Young. Coming in on the heels of Germany, the country thrust ahead even as the CEE region as a whole drops down the scale.

In a publication which offered a far more optimistic outlook on investment across Europe than many hold in the current maelstrom, Ernst & Young's 2012 European attractiveness survey saw investors hand Poland second place in a list of the continent's top targets for FDI, with 10% of respondents crediting it as the top destination. Germany topped the poll with 35%, whilst the UK and Russia took the votes of 7%.

"[Poland] is a beacon of hope in the CEE region, which witnessed a phenomenal decline in its attractiveness," the survey notes. " With strong domestic demand and robust growth through 2011, the country has been less affected by the 2011 slowdown than some of its neighbours."

Poland's investment attractiveness has been bolstered by the Flexible Credit Line granted it by the IMF, the consultants add. That programme offers the country support should crisis hit, whilst the lack of attached conditions gives Warsaw's track record in economic performance and fiscal policy the thumbs up.

"Once dominated by labor-intensive industries, inflows are increasingly knowledge centered," it continues. "Well-qualified and productive workers, a pro-business environment and transparent tax and legal systems have helped give Poland a positive image among company and economic development executives worldwide."

However, even better news for Poland is that reality is still catching up with perception, meaning that the country's good image is likely to lead to ever-greater investment in the coming years. "Poland is ceasing to be one of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The market and investors are finally beginning to see how diverse ... CEE is," said Duleep Aluwihare, managing partner at Ernst & Young Polska.

"Projects announced in 2011 may have been in gestation for several years," Ernst & Young points out. "A corporate executive asked to identify the most attractive countries today may ponder a country's prospects for a decade or more ahead before reaching a conclusion. Today, investors are saying that Germany, Poland and Russia are on a path of sustained attractiveness, and that FDI in these countries is likely to progress as a result. The UK and France, by contrast, are perceived to be declining in attractiveness relative to the three leaders."

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