From the business perspective, the ‘dripping tap’ of uncertainty represents a big problem when it comes to strategic planning. Uncertainty also impacts trade in goods. Automotive and food – Poland’s largest categories of exports to the UK – depend totally on just-in-time delivery. Any delays caused by new border controls after Britain leaves the Customs Union (as Theresa May has said it would) will be challenging for Poland’s exports. Last year Poland had a record €8.2 billion trade surplus with the UK, which contributed to Poland’s overall balance of trade being (just about) in surplus. Should Poland’s trade surplus with the UK shrink, its overall balance of trade will tip into deficit.
The BPCC is busy telling Polish businesses how they can get prepared for Brexit in whatever form it eventually takes. If they are prepared for the various scenarios that could occur, they will be able to continue trading with what is now Poland’s third-largest export market. Issues such as country-of-origin certification, VAT, tariffs, logistics, labour force mobility and certification of standards all need explaining (this is a good chance to talk about BSI’s Kitemark – 115 years old this year, and a standard that could come to replace the CE mark in the UK after Brexit). We have been active in the automotive and aviation sectors with chief advisor Michael Dembinski speaking at the annual conferences of representatives of those sectors. Regional Polish airports are concerned that post-Brexit the number of passengers flying to and from the UK will fall; the question they face is how to make up the lost revenues. For the automotive sector, where many Polish manufacturers are an intrinsic part of a cross-channel supply chain, maintaining free-flowing logistics (and avoiding tariffs) are key concerns. In doing our bit to help keep Trade flows moving post -Brexit we have been holding Brexit briefing meetings for Polish exporters in Warsaw and Kraków.
Here in Poland, the economy is flourishing, with most economists forecasting growth in the order of 4.5% this year. Everyone is busy. A good time for British businesses to set foot in Poland although Eurostat has just confirmed that the April unemployment rate for Poland at 3.8% was lower than the UK’s 4.2%. This indicator uses economic inactivity rather than registered jobless as the measure. This is a historic moment and shows just how strong growth is here in Poland. Indeed, many fear that labour shortages will be the be the main factor that will slow the economy.
With the first half-year behind us we already working on activities for the second half, with a full programme of Policy Group meetings, high-quality networking events focused on business development opportunities. Back-to-work mixers will be held in September as business returns from holidays; Wrocław’s International Oktoberfest will happen for the 14th time on 14th September (see the newly launched website for registration and details).
The CEO Breakfast on labour force automation takes place on 21st September and our big evening event in Warsaw will be on 18th October. Keep watching the BPCC website, the BPCC app and your inbox for more details!