Poland has enjoyed nearly 20 years of growth as it has transitioned from central planning to a market economy. Growth slowed and unemployment shot up following the disruptions of the Russian financial crisis in the late 1990s, but by 2003, healthy growth rates had returned and unemployment had begun to fall. Today, four years of growth averaging nearly 5.5% have increased average Polish incomes and reduced unemployment to 6.4% in October 2008. While Poland's banking system has escaped the global economic crisis relatively unscathed, growth is again beginning to slow due to weakness in Poland's key export markets and concomitant weakness in domestic investment. Third quarter growth in 2008 was down to 4.8%, and economists are still marking down projections for 2009.
In a September 2008 speech at the Krynica Economic Forum, Prime Minister Tusk announced Poland's intention to meet all Euro accession criteria by the end of 2011 and to join the Euro on January 1, 2012. While Poland appears able to meet the Maastricht criteria for entry into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and the Euro, the government must also move constitutional changes through the Polish parliament before adopting the common European currency. It cannot do that without the support of at least some members of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has stated its support for a referendum to determine the date of Euro accession.
GDP (2007): $420 billion.
Real GDP growth (2007): 6.6%.
Per capita GDP (2007): $11,030.
Rate of inflation (2007, average): 2.5%.
Natural resources: Coal, copper, sulfur, natural gas, silver, lead, salt.
Agriculture: Products--grains, hogs, dairy, potatoes, horticulture, sugar beets, oilseed.
Industry: Types--machine building, iron and steel, mining, shipbuilding, automobiles, furniture, textiles and apparel, chemicals, food processing, glass, beverages.
Trade (2007): Exports--$143.7 billion: furniture, cars, ships, coal, apparel. Imports--$158.8 billion: crude oil, passenger cars, pharmaceuticals, car parts, computers.
Information by U.S. Department of State
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