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Poland beckons to WA money

POLAND is growing as a marketplace and may prove a valuable beachhead into its developing, former eastern bloc neighbours.

Trade commissioner for Poland Richard Tomaszewski, speaking at a recent Chamber of Commerce and Industry

function, said, with a population of thirty-nine million, Poland was one of the biggest countries in central Europe.

It was the first former Warsaw Pact country to break away, has been a member of the OECD since 1996 and joined NATO in July.

The country is on track to join the European Union in 2003.

“About 60 per cent of Poland’s laws have been accepted by the EU,” Mr Tomaszewski said.

According to Euromonitor, retail sales in Poland are worth US$75 million a year.

Poland’s construction sector is booming with projects worth US$1 billion in Warsaw alone.

European Construction Research tips the country’s construction industry will do well until 2007.

Poland is presently under-taking a motorway and tollway construction program worth US$8 billion.

One of Poland’s greatest assets is its highly skilled, yet relatively inexpensive, workforce. The average wage is $700 a month.

There are also a large number of state-owned companies for sale in sectors such as minerals, telecommunications, defence and furniture.

Poland is the biggest furniture producer in Europe and it is the country’s largest export after glasses and crystalware.

Mr Tomaszewski said the country still did not have enough hotels, offices or supermarkets.

Poland’s corporate tax rate is currently 34 per cent and due to fall to 28 per cent in 2001.

The country also has seventeen special economic zones which offer large tax incentives.

Mr Tomaszewski said Poland and Australia had signed an agreement to ensure companies investing in Poland were not taxed twice.

He said the collapse of the Russian economy had hit Poland hard.

That collapse also hurt the major Australian export to Poland – greasy wool.

Traditionally Poland bought about US$200 million a year of Australian wool which was mostly turned into uniforms for the old Red Army.

In the first half of 1999 Poland only bought US$50 million of Australian wool.

Australia now ranks twenty-second in investment into Poland.

It is perhaps fitting that the largest Australian investment

in Poland is in the brewing industry.

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