Yesterday the Polish Investforum 2010 had its kick-off in Gdansk in the beautiful Baltic Philharmonic. Two days long representatives of governmental organizations and foreign investors are discussing the Polish potential. The main objective of the Investforum is to promote the image of Poland and present its attractiveness as the location for foreign investment. The question is whether or not they managed.
Too high expectations?
Weeks before the Forum I got invited to participate in the panel about the “Advantages and disadvantages of low-cost locations”. Honestly I was really looking forward to this debate and the whole Forum. The subject is appealing and it’s always great to discuss the Polish opportunities.
Unfortunately, the Forum setup disappointed me dramatically. As I mentioned in the introduction the Forum is about presenting Poland to foreign investors. Therefore, I don’t understand why the main part of the program was in Polish. By doing so you don’t open up to the foreigners, it’s not inviting to join the discussion. Honestly, it showed how closed Poland still is towards foreigners.
Besides most of the introductory presentations were far too boring and didn’t add anything new. Mostly they were about: “See how good we are”. The debate about “The perception of Poland in the world and the foreign investment inflows” didn’t include any foreigner. One of the panel members even mentioned he “didn’t have any idea what foreigners think about Poland”. I believe among the audience there were many people who could have told them, you could have asked, but there was no interaction with the audience.
Poland no longer an emerging nor a low-cost market
Dr. Nicholas Spiro showed the current economic divergence in Europe. One of the major conclusions related to Poland is that Poland didn’t feel the recent crisis too much because of its healthy financial system and decent policy making. In the past Poland never faced a real burst like many other emerging markets in Eastern Europe. Also for the near future this is not likely to happen. Predictions of the IMF prove that there will be a stable, healthy growth rate of 3.5 – 4% yearly. But the risk for “overheating” remains according to Dr. Spiro.
Based on the figures and the lack of the burst Dr. Spiro concluded we shouldn’t treat Poland as an emerging market. Poland acts more and more like other advanced economies in Western-Europe, fortunately lacking the financial history which (at least partly) caused the recent downturn.
During the panel discussion “Advantages and disadvantages of low-coast locations” we concluded Poland is no longer a low-cost destination. If cost is the most crucial factor then countries like Ukraine or Rumania have more competitive edge.
All present companies have chosen Poland because of its liaison role in between West and Eastern Europe, it’s stable economical and political system, integration into the European Union and the fact Poland is well connected to the rest of Europe. The lower cost compared to Western Europe are most welcome, but the availability of highly skilled professionals is for all of them the most important reason to stay in Poland.
Poland a great location to locate your business
Apart from the “commercial” talks also the experiences of analysts and foreign investors show Poland is becoming an important economy within Europe. It’s a great country to locate your business. The future basically looks bright. Hopefully the event organizers will manage to present this conclusion to the foreign investors.
Tholons will present its Top100 Outsourcing Cities Ranking and Report on November 11, 2010. I’m curious how they rank Polish cities. If you are curious as well better register for the webinar.
All forum pictures: Copyright PetersOpinion.com