Poland is open for business and remains committed to open trade between Poland and South Africa, Polish Ambassador to South Africa Andrzej Kanthak said on Friday.
Speaking to delegates at the JSE’s first country investment day, in Johannesburg, which focussed on business relations between South Africa and Poland, he noted that Poland is “a stable country which is committed to free market principles, the rule of law, international competition, democracy and free trade”.
This, he pointed out, is key when investors require confidence in the long-term stability of the economy that they are investing in.
Commenting on Poland’s current economic and business environment, World Bank senior economist Dr Marcin Piatkowski told delegates that Poland is a “vibrant and multi-party democracy”.
The country’s ultimate growth drivers include an open, broad-based inclusive society, as well as a social consensus on striving for a “return” to Europe.
The emergence of the middle class also counts in Poland’s favour, he added, noting that the country’s strengths lie in its high quality of education, low labour costs and a high productivity rate.
Poland’s infrastructure is improving and the country’s macroeconomic environment is stable, he noted, adding that Poland is experiencing gross domestic product growth well above the European Union average, and that Poland will continue to be the key spot in Europe for growth in retail during the next few years.
“Poland’s is a story of a ‘rags to riches’, and is remarkable in the sense that the country is rejuvenated, which would not have been possible without opening up the society to the rest of the world, and making sure that everyone [who operates in the country], can do so sustainably.”
Meanwhile, JSE-listed Polish property company EPP CEO Hadley Dean told Engineering News Online that South African companies were willing to invest in Poland.
“I think that what happens when South African investors come to Poland, they see that [Poland] is not an emerging market, but rather a developed market,” he said, adding that Poland is a “hidden gem”.
For South Africa to reach the same level of development and investor confidence as Poland, he said South Africa would need to start from the basis of more equal income.
“One of the challenges for South Africa is how to grow the economy to a rate that is sustainable and is not fuelled by debt. But I do think that the South African government can take some real lessons from Poland, which is focussed on growing its economy”.