Poland is worth investing !

Poland is a country with numerous investment assets and development perspectives. Factors which are in favor of investing in this country include geographical, climatic and economic issues such as government grants, EU funds, real estate tax exemption, special economic zones and scholarship programmes. However, the most important advantage is human capital, which, being well-qualified and well-educated is the key to the investment success. For several years, Poland has also focused on the innovative economy development, energy independence and decarbonisation, which are all part of sustainable development and which require intensified and thoughtful investment strategies. That is why technology transfer, energy and automotive industry are so important.
 
INCENTIVES FOR INVESTMENT AND NON-FINANCIAL ACTIVITIES - WHAT ARE THE MAIN MEANS OF SUPPORT FOR INVESTORS?
 
Support in the form of grant
 
This kind of support is based on a bilateral agreement between the Ministry of Economy and a given investor who is interested in a chosen economy sector. The agreement is subject to precisely defined conditions. The grants are paid out in accordance with the progress in fulfillment of commitments. The investment area is also important. It is due to the fact that support is provided for the sectors which are regarded as the crucial ones. These sectors, amongst others, include: automotive, electronics, aviation, R&D and modern services sectors.
 
Two main categories of the support for new investments programme can be differentiated, the first one is the creation of new jobs, and the second one is implementation of a new investment. The investors, who create 250 jobs by investing at least PLN 2 million in the sector of innovative services, will receive financial support for creation of new jobs. The amount of subsidy is highly dependent on the number of new jobs and also the number of qualified workers with higher education, as well as from the complexity of the processes performed by a given company.  It is worth investing in the sector of modern services in Poland. Exemptions from taxes are also one of the reasons. The businessmen who create new jobs can be, partially or fully, exempt from the property tax. Partial or full exemption from the tax on motor vehicles is also possible.
 
Support of authorities
 
Poviat Labour Offices offer considerable support programmes. Amongst other things, they consist in covering costs of training for apprentices and also financing new jobs. Additionally, financing of scholarship programmes or return of expenses on salaries and social insurance is also offered.
 
Broader range of cooperation.
 
The Polish regional authorities attract investors by non-financial activities. A good example from the Mazovian region is the support for investors and for development of clusters provided by the Marshall Office. Competitiveness of economy largely depends on research and development and also innovation (R+D+I). Strong emphasis is placed on promoting development of companies, which introduce innovative products and services. Clusters, because of cooperation with their member companies, research institutions, business related institutions, non-governmental institutions and local authorities, are called a catalyst of innovative processes. Cluster structures are to a large extend responsible for growth of innovativeness and improvement of potential capability of knowledge transfer.
 
For example, the Mazovian clusters like Smart IT, Green Energy, Green Cars and Innovation Cluster – in cooperation with international partners formed the EGTA Platform for the purpose of technology transfer and development of electric automotive industry, renewable energy sources and IT sector. EGTA has a support of public administration bodies like the Ministry of Economy, Marshall Office or PARP (The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development). This shows wide prospects and possibilities for national and international cooperation.
 
SECTORS WORTH INVESTIN
 
In 2015, residential and agricultural lands were at the top of the investors’ wish list, whereas the interest in the latter is a result of wind and solar farms development. This, however, does not mean that other types of markets are far behind them. Poland is becoming attractive for new groups of investors coming from India, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
 
This is mainly thanks to the fact that Poland is one of the few countries in the European Union which, despite of the weak economic situation in Euro zone, countries recorded economic growth in 2014 and in 2015 and as indicated in NBP report, GDP rate will grow by 3.4 % and 3.6 %. The situation has improved also thanks to high investment activity among national enterprises and the growth of consumer spending. Interestingly, the tax wedge (the deviation from equilibrium price/quantity as a result of a taxation, which results in that the consumers paying more, and suppliers receiving less) in Poland still remains relatively low in comparison to countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Last year’s issue of the “European Attractiveness Survey” prepared by Ernst&Young also mentions Poland as a worth-investing and prospective place in Central and Eastern Europe.
 
Furthermore, Poland is one of the most attractive markets for investing in real properties. It is due to several factors. Firstly, country is distinguished by dynamic economic growth. Moreover, Poland has a number of investment incentives, such as the access to European funds, which may attract potential investors. Poland is also the largest (among 28 Member States) beneficiary of EU funds. There are governmental programmes focused on providing favourable conditions for entrepreneurship development and promoting foreign investors as important partners in building modern economy.
 
Start in Poland
 
Poland is currently shifting its direction towards the development and support of innovative solutions and projects. Thanks to the launching of the governmental project “Start in Poland”, technological initiatives with high economic prospects would be supported. Experts predict that such an initiative, backed by the Polish government,  would serve as a driving force for positive changes in the field of innovation, leading, at the same time, to the creation of a favorable environment for the development of new start-ups. Continuous promotion of modern technological inventions would contribute to the implementation of modern solutions in Poland in a short time. At present, the initiators of project announced the allocation of approximately PLN 3 billion, which will be designated, among others, for:
  • development of appropriate ecosystem and flagship program, needed for the creation and advancement of start ups; 
  • establishment of public institutions; 
  • consolidation of R&D institutions; 
  • support for the internationalization of start-ups .
 
The success of the governmental program is plays crucial role for Poland, as it would increase country’s economic competitiveness and stability while more importantly, would improve the quality of social life. Poland has invested in innovations for many years and has achieved many successes in this very field (e.g. the development of valuable solutions in energy sector). With no doubt, “Start in Poland” has the potential to become one of the most influential projects in Central and Eastern Europe.
 
Special Economic Zones (SEZ) provide opportunities for investing on favourable conditions. Special Economic Zones are separate areas where investors are offered exemption from income tax in relation to the revenue gained in a given zone. In Poland, there are fourteen special economic zones.
 
In order to obtain the privilege of conducting activities in a special economic zone, a company has to take part in a tender organised by a company governing a given zone. A tender’s rules and criteria for evaluation of intentions concerning undertakings are specified separately for each zone.
 
In a special economic zone, entrepreneurs may benefit from tax exemptions for:
  • costs of a new investment;
  • the number of new workplaces.
 
The support level depends on maximum aid intensities predicted for the area, on which the investment takes place. For entrepreneurs who will select aid due to employment, eligible costs are two-year labour costs of newly employed employees. In case of entrepreneurs using aid due to the costs of a new investment – costs of new investment. The regions vary in terms of aid intensities. In Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie and Podlaskie voivodships the constitutes 50% in relation to underlying costs, in Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lubuskie, Łódzkie, Małopolskie, Opolskie, Pomorskie, Świętokrzyskie, Zachodniopomorskie voivodships and in subregions of Mazowieckie, Ciechanowsko-Płockie, Ostrołęcko-Siedleckie, Radomskie and Warszawskie voivodeships it is 35%, in Dolnośląskie, Wielkopolskie and Śląskie voivodships it is 25%, in Western Warsaw’s subregions – 20%, in Warsaw – 15% (until 31 December 2017) and 10% (since January 2018). 
 
At the beginning of 2015, there were 2056 permits granted for conducting business in all 14 special zones and in 2014, 436 permissions were issued, which accounted for 21% of a total number of permits. They also show how great support is offered to local and foreign investors.  At the end of 2014, entrepreneurs operating in the zones invested above PLN 101.9 billion and created approximately 295.6 thousand jobs, from which nearly 213.9 thousand (i.e. 72.4%) were new work places created after the investors obtained permits for conducting business in a given zone. It resulted directly from new investments implementation.
 
INDUSTRIAL INVESTMENTS
 
Despite the fact that since 2008 Europe has been troubled by the global financial crisis, the Polish market of industrial investments is attractive and is steadily growing. After the accession of Poland to the EU, new investment prospects and, as a result, new investments emerged.  2014 was record breaking for the sector of industrial and warehouse spaces in Poland. Developers delivered over 1 million square meters of modern spaces to the market. A high level of lodgers’ activity was observed and the vacancy rate achieved exceptionally low value. During the year 2015 rising trends have been also observed and prospects for 2016 are also promising.
 
The sector of industrial and warehouse space has great development prospect ahead of it – such conclusions can be drawn from a report entitled “Poland Industrial MarketView Q4 2014”, which was prepared by consulting company – CBRE. In 2014, in Poland, the total supply of modern industrial and warehouse area exceeded 8.8 million m2. According to the report, in 2014 alone, the developers supplied more than one million m2 of new industrial and warehouse space.
 
The region of Warsaw, with its resources of over 2.8 million m2 of modern space is still the strongest region in the Polish market. Upper Silesia and Wroclaw Region are amongst the leaders of regional markets. Upper Silesia offers 1.57 million m2 of modern space, while the Wroclaw Region has 1.26 million m2. Most of the new projects are the BTS (built to suit) format, and also investments secured by pre-let agreements.  At the end of 2014 there were over 0.63 million m2 of industrial and warehouse space under construction. The last quarter of 2014 was an indication that we have experienced growth of number of constructed buildings on a speculative basis.
 
The demand for warehouse space was mainly generated by companies from the logistics sector. Whereas, manufacturing space attracted most interest of companies from the automotive and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) sectors.
 
IT SECTOR
 
The value of Polish IT market in 2010 reached PLN 25 billion, and within 5 years it has increased by PLN 5 billion thus reaching PLN 30 billion. It is the 2nd largest market in Central and Eastern Europe following Russia. Why this sector is worth investing in Poland? Certainly because of a very dynamic growth of this market and increase of internal as well as external demand, which is well-proven by such consortia like Microsoft, HP, Google, Oracle, IBM or SAP.
 
The main reason for such a fast growth of the Polish IT market, and resulting importance of Poland on the European and global market, is highly qualified personnel of specialist. Quality of provided services and the level of creativity, which often exceeds employers’ expectations, are equally important factors. It is worth emphasizing that every year young Polish IT specialists win the top places in such international competitions for computer programmers like, Imagine Cup, Code Jam or the Central European Programming Contest (CEPC).
 
Steady flow of foreign investments and also moving production to Poland is a key element of such a dynamic growth of this sector. It results in reduction of prices of products and services and, thanks to technology transfer, it enables sharing of vital experience and knowledge. The inflow of EU funds to companies enabled quick development of new IT technologies. The companies improved infrastructure and skills of their workers. Funding under the Operational Programme Innovative Economy plays a vital role. Equally important is the fact that a substantial increase of spending on IT infrastructure of households resulted in further reduction of prices of computers, and peripherals (printers, scanners, and others).
 
The IT sector virtually serves the entire market. However, thanks to their investments, the market is mainly driven by such industries as: telecommunications, financial sector, industrial manufacturing sector, local and central administration. About 1/3 of sales income from the IT sector in Poland is generated by the largest 350 companies. Their biggest contractors are state offices and institutions and also large companies (about 5000 of them). 22.6% of income of the largest IT companies comes from sales of products and services form administration. Another large group of customers are the following: banking sector (15.7%, together with the financial sector it is 21.3%), telecommunications sector (15.4%) and industry (9.7%). An important trend on the IT market is a rapid growth of interest in IT software and services from the small and medium enterprises sector. 
 
The constantly growing competition forces companies of this segment to implement innovation and introduce IT support to their business. On the other hand, reduction of business software prices brings better availability of the ERP (enterprise resource planning) class solutions which previously were too expensive for these companies.
ORGANIC FOOD
 
The organic food market in Poland has a big growth potential. Awareness of what we eat is growing and the time where food just has to be tasty and cheap is slowly passing away. The competition led to the situation where the producers, instead of hiding the contents of their products, boast about it. The shops with healthy and organic food spring up in every Polish large city very fast. Today every supermarket must have a section with healthy and organic food. The media, sensing “good times”, are vitally interested in this subject and educate the society. In Poland there are many uncontaminated agricultural lands which are good for organic and ecological cultivation. Presently, organic farming occupies over 600 thousands of ha in Poland. Therefore, it is not surprising that this branch of food production may be performed in our country from the stage of agriculture up to a finished product on the shop shelf. Of course such industry needs foreign output markets and Polish products must be promoted abroad. Only such attitude guarantees stability of the market and rapid growth.
 
Experts estimate that the current value of the Polish market of organic food exceeds PLN 700 million, and its rate of growth reaches 10-20% per annum. Since this type of food is bought by only 30% of Poles, it is clear that there is still much potential. Sales of organic food is more popular abroad than in Poland. For example in Germany it is 5%, whereas in our country it is just 0.2%. It is obvious that a good Polish base in connection with export of products can bring us success in this area. Especially when taking into account that we are one of major agricultural producers, but we have much to improve in food processing. In the year 2012 Poland was ranked 3rd in European Union in terms of quantity of organic farms. The overall number of organic food processing plants in Europe is as follows. In Netherlands there are 1035 of them, in UK - 2052, Italy - 5873, France - 8957, and 9183 in Germany. In 2013 there were 407 organic food processing plants located in Poland. Maybe this number is not large, but in 2003 we started with 22 of them. Therefore, it may soon turn out that we will catch up the rest, or I should rather say, we will take advantage of this opportunity.
 
It should be also pointed out that the organic food market changes our world for the better. Improving the quality of life and health of our society is the additional benefit from such investments. It is a secure market, but not an easy one as it mainly follows the trends for given products. Besides, it is of seasonal nature. As in the case of every industry connected with agriculture, the main risks are unpredictability of harvests and product prices depending on the levels of demand and supply.
 
TRANSPORT
 
The development of transport infrastructure largely determines the quality level of transport services, as an extensive transport network indirectly contributes to social and economic growth of a country and its regions. Moreover, it has a significant impact on improving quality of life.
 
Certainly the driving force for the development of transport and infrastructure was its accession to the European Union. This meant the access to European funds like, for example, the European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund, and funds for implementation of TEN-T projects, and previously - the pre-accession funds. It can be stated that availability of infrastructural investment financing sources determined the path of growth. The funds from operational programmes are spent for investments in road transport, maritime economy, rail transport and urban transport. Investment efforts are made on all administrative levels - national, regional and local.
 
Nevertheless, Poland faces big challenges; the transport sector substantially contributes to the total volume of emissions. The total share of transport in the overall emission of greenhouse gases in Poland, according to the data from 2012, amounted to 11.5% and its share in non-ETS exceeded 22%. Road transport generates 98% of the total emissions from the transport sector. Unfortunately, if taking into account emissions of greenhouse gases from the transport sector, it obviously showing an upward trend, according to the emission forecasts, it will not change for at least the next 15 years. The transport sector requires revolutionary technological changes. Development of low-emission transport is a challenge that will not be completed without national and foreign investments. However, it is not only about the transport as the development of infrastructure, increasing the capacity of communication networks and development of charging network adapted for public use. For the years 2004-2013 Poland had access to about EUR 28.7 billion for the transport infrastructure projects. During the period of 2004-2006, which were the first two years after the accession to the EU, this amount reached EUR 5.4 billion, whereas between 2007-2013 it was as much as EUR 23.3 billion. Over the period of 2007-2013 in Poland were built motorways and express roads for the total amount of about EUR 16 billion (PLN 69.2 billion), of which about EUR 10 billion (PLN 42.6 billion) were co-financed from the EU funds. Since 2004, in total about 673 km of motorways have been built and 808 km of express roads have been modernised.
 
It is worth to emphasize that today Poles can be proud of themselves by innovative solutions regarding conversion of combustion-engined cars to electric cars, or manufacturing of country’s unique electric cars. The Green Cars Cluster is a perfect example. It brings together companies converting combustion-engined cars into EVs and manufacturing EVs, and, through manufacturing and distribution of charging stations, also develops the sector of low-carbon transport. All of these elements are components which define the development strategy of the Polish transport.

Power engineering

Development of the renewable energy sources sector is one of the key priorities of the Polish government. The Directive 2009/28/EC of 23.04.2009 states that the EU member states should gradually increase the share of energy from renewable sources in the overall consumption of energy within the transport sector. The aims of Polish energy policy are focused on achieving growth of the share of RES in the overall energy consumption to 15.5% in the year 2020. According to sectors the increase of renewable energy sources utilisation as follows: 19.3% for electricity, 17% for heating and cooling sector and 10.2% for transport fuels. It necessitates investments in new generation capacities. Currently, the wind power engineering and utilization of biomass for energy generation are those sectors that grow the fastest. Development of manufacturing of equipment used to generate green energy is also very important for Poland, and recently it has been attracting more and more interest of investors. It is also worth noting that, according to the data of EurObserv’ER, Poland is ranked 5th in the EU in terms of generation of primary energy from solid biomass, and also is a leader among the new EU member states in terms of the overall installed capacity of wind farms.

RES facilities (electricity)

Type of facility

Quantity

Power (MW)

biogas power plants

207

136.319

biomass power plants

29

876.108

photovoltaic facilities

9

1.289

wind plants

743

2644.898

hydroelectric power plants

771

966.236

power plants exploiting the technology of co-combustion

41

no data

Source: Energy Regulatory Authority (status as of the date 31 March 2013)

Estimated exploitation of economic potential (final energy) in 2020 - the real market potential

Type of RES

Real economic potential - final energy

Exploitation of economic potential in 2020 (the real market potential)

[TJ]

[TJ]

[%]

biomass:

600,167.8

533,117.5

88.8

solid dry waste

165,930.8

149,337.7

90.0

biogas (wet waste)

123,066.3

72,609.1

59.0

timber (forests)

24,451.8

24,451.8

100.0

energy crops

286,718.9

286,718.9

100.0

wind power engineering

444,647.6

119,913.3

27.0

solar power engineering:

83,312.2

19,422.2

23.3

thermal

83,152.9

19,262.9

23.2

photovoltaic

159.3

159.3

100.0

water power

17,974.4

11,144.2

62.0

Source: Possibilities of utilisation of renewable energy sources in Poland until the year 2020, IEO

Power engineering

Development of the renewable energy sources sector is one of the key priorities of the Polish government. The Directive 2009/28/EC states that the EU member states should gradually increase the share of energy from renewable sources in the overall consumption of energy within the transport sector. This creates a niche for enterprises interested in developing new renewable energy technologies. A new governmental scheme establishes a grant program for researching and installing environmentally friendly technologies with a value of 8000 millions Euro.

The aims of Polish energy policy are focused on achieving growth of the share of RES in the overall energy consumption to 15.5% in the year 2020. According to sectors the increase of renewable energy sources utilisation presented as follows: 19.3% for electricity, 17% for heating and cooling sector and 10.2% for transport fuels. It requiers investments in new generation capacities. Currently, the wind power engineering and utilization of biomass for energy generation are those sectors that grow the fastest. Development of manufacturing of equipment used to generate green energy is also very important for Poland, and recently it has been attracting more and more investors. It is also worth noting that according to the data of EurObserv’ER, Poland is ranked 5th in the EU in terms of generation of primary energy from solid biomass, and also is a leader among the new EU member states in terms of the overall installed capacity of wind farms.

The Polish government supports generation of energy from renewable resources through various means, like for example:

  • investment incentives for producers of renewable energy (the system of “colourful certificates”);
  • energy companies that deal with marketing and sales of electricity are obliged by law to purchase electricity from RES;
  • the manufacturers of renewable energy have special priority access to the power grid;
  • electricity from renewable sources is exempted from excise duties;
  • the charge for connection of small facilities (<5 MW) to the grid is decreased by 50%. The installations of such type are also exempted from licence fee and annual fee paid by those who hold the licence;
  • the investments in clean energy can be co-financed from the National Fund of Environmental Protection and Water Management.

Real properties used for Renewable Energy Sources

According to the ranking of the World Bank “Doing Business 2015”, Poland was ranked 32nd place among 189 economies worldwide. The high ranking position means that the legal and regulatory environment in Poland is encouraging to invest in real property. This attracts companies from all over the world and makes Poland a good place for investing and expanding business.

Accession of Poland to European Union significantly increased its attractiveness as a potential investment location. Since then, there has been an increase in the number of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). According to UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), in 2014, Poland experienced an increase of FDI (foreign direct investment) from USD 120 million to almost USD 13.9 billion (20th place in the world), despite a downward trend observed in Europe and worldwide. The country’s favourable location, in the centre of Europe, where the main communication routs intersect, makes it possible to export goods to all European countries and thus, reach over 500 million consumers. Poland’s major trade partners are, among others, Germany, Russia, China, France, the UK, Italy, Hungary, Ukraine and Spain.

Precedent of leasing land for wind/solar or biogas plants has become more and more common in the recent years. In EU, investors from RES industry are looking for exposed lands with no natural terrain obstacles (e.g. trees) and artificial obstacles (high buildings). For the above reasons, one can observe a growing interest in long-term lease of selected agricultural areas that is based on lease contract. Solar/photovoltaic and wind power plants or biogas plants that require large open areas are built in such areas. For many years, the tendency to use Renewable Energy Sources has been constantly growing. It partially stems from European Union directives as well as social awareness. Europe faces the challenge of decreasing the level of CO2 emission to the atmosphere. Therefore, over the years, the development and use of agricultural land for RES will slowly but surely increase.

Poland as a region of development and challenges

The entire Europe, if not the entire world, faces the challenge of energy crisis. Since the last several years, Western European countries make efforts to move away from conventional power engineering that is forced by nearing exhaustion of fossil fuels. Poland, in comparison to other Western European countries, like e.g. Germany, is still far behind in terms of utilisation of renewable energy sources. Therefore, investing in this sector in Poland is so important. This gives wide investment possibilities for potential national and international investors. The climate conditions somehow forced an interest in e.g. wind farms, solar farms, and especially technology transfer, as the calculability of a given investment largely depends on the implemented technologies, which are often purchased from technologically advanced countries.

Moreover, the automotive industry sector enjoys high interest and good prospects, and it de facto faces the same challenge, namely reduction of emissions. New investment opportunities are being created, like for example conversion of combustion-engined vehicles, or their mass production. In conclusion, big challenges bring more opportunities, both social and investment ones. Therefore, Poland is an interesting and favourable place to locate and increase capital, both for national and foreign investors.

Source: Green Economy

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