The most fundamental truth about Poland’s economy right now is this: Inward investment, booming capital markets, major infrastructure projects and thriving entrepreneurship. The politics has no negative bearing on the economy so far.
Poland’s economy tells an incredible story. This is a story about an outward-looking country focused on fully exploiting its EU membership, benefiting from investor concerns over the UK’s uncertain position post-Brexit. Business lawyers in Poland are brimming with confidence – and work. Poland has also been buoyed by global equity index provider FTSE Russell, which made Poland the first Central and Eastern European (CEE) nation to be upgraded from an ‘emerging’ to a ‘developed’ market.
Poland is expanding in almost every area. And that is reflected in lawyers’ briefs collected recently in London by Marialuisa Taddia for her article on Poland titled ‘Pole Positions’ (https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/features/pole-positions/5066386.article
Ms Taddia has collected the views from some leading business law firms in Poland, including foreign ones such as White & Case or DLA Piper and the Polish law firms with international capabilities such as Woźniak Legal or Wardyński & Partners.
‘Real estate, and merger and acquisition transactions, litigation, intellectual property, employment law, white-collar crime and public procurement are all on the rise,
’ confirm business lawyers in Warsaw. It looks like a golden age of the Polish property market, despite some political problems and heavy criticism regarding the latest changes in the court system in Poland.
Investors are targeting all segments of Poland’s real estate – residential developments (there are about 700 in Warsaw alone); construction and lease of new office and retail space; student housing; and warehousing and logistics. The lawyers note that Poland’s strategic transit location at the junction of East-West and North-South trade routes – and Poles’ love of e-commerce – is driving investment in warehousing and logistics. In 2017, commercial real estate investments in Poland reached €5bn, up 9% on 2016, the highest level in 10 years, Cushman & Wakefield research shows. This trend should continue and may be even greater as a result of Brexit.
Poland is also a key player in geopolitical alliances such as the Visegrád Group States (V4) and the Three Seas Initiative. V4 promotes the economic interests of Poland and its regional partners (Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia) in the EU and beyond. Poland on its own is too small to play an important role on the international arena but Poland integrated economically with other countries from V4 region plus the support of the United States - this is something new and inspiring.
This was addressed at a recent Law Society seminar on doing legal business in the V4 by Tom Salusbury, regional director of the UK Department for International Trade’s Central Europe Network and Woźniak Legal. They pointed out that the region has attracted €142.59bn in EU funding for 2014-20, and has a total population of 64m, with an appetite for British goods and services. Moreover, the region’s growth rates of over 3% are the highest in Europe.
Most pundits agree that the recent rapid expansion of the real estate and infrastructure sectors is due in part to the Three Seas Initiative (TSI). This is a Polish-Hungarian-Romanian-Croatian project, launched in 2016, to strengthen trade, infrastructure, energy and political co-operation between 12 nations, including Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, and the V4. Together, they form a market of 105m people.
The experts point out that most of the region’s critical infrastructure, including roads and rail services, runs on an East-West corridor, partly due to Germany’s economic dominance. The project aims to develop better connections along the North-South axis in the sectors of energy, transport and digital communications.
Crucially, nearly all the countries in the TSI rely heavily on Russian gas and oil imports. One of the key goals of the TSI is to promote greater energy independence from Russia, which has sometimes wielded its gas and oil as a political tool over central and eastern European states.
Only a few clouds on the horizon, it seems, in an otherwise clear Polish sky for business lawyers and their clients.