OECD Territorial Reviews: Poland 2008

image of OECD Territorial Reviews: Poland 2008

Although Poland has managed to maintain high growth levels since the mid-1990s, with the second-best performance in the OECD in 2006-07, territorial disparities are persistent and rising, especially between large urban areas and rural ones. Like many OECD countries, Poland must seek to achieve an appropriate balance between support for poles of growth and the development of lagging regions, particularly its eastern peripheral regions, which are among the poorest in the European Union. This report explores the various challenges and opportunities for Polish regional development policy, and provides recommendations to best design and implement the policy mix, looking in particular at governance challenges.

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Assessment and Recommendations

Poland’s average annual growth rate was above 4% between 1995 and 2005 and growth of GDP exceeded 6% in 2006 and 2007, the second-best performance among OECD countries. It had a strong drop in unemployment, from 18% in 2005 to less than 10% at the end of 2007. Poland stands out as a relatively successful example of a transition from a partially state-directed economy to a primarily privately owned market economy, with above 75% of total output now produced in the private sector. Over a short period, it has diversified towards services (in particular business services) and more labour-intensive manufacturing. It has retained its position as a world leader in manufacturing and has specialised in rapidly growing sectors such as pharmaceuticals and electronic components. Poland has also become a very attractive location for foreign direct investment (FDI) and is now among the top ten OECD countries in terms of FDI flows as a proportion of GDP. Its FDI rose from 2.9% to 4.1% of GDP between 1996 and 2006. Owing to its geographical position – at the heart of the European continent and surrounded by Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine – Poland has the potential to play a strategic role between western and eastern Europe, with Russia and Asia and within the Baltic Sea Region.

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