Key sector opportunities

With the three most recent phases of expansion in 2004, 2007 and 2013, the European Union is moving east. The eight new member states, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, comprise a totally new market of around 100,000 million people and a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of almost £1 trillion.

Poland, the region’s largest economy, is known as the only EU member to have escaped recession during the global downturn of 2009. Between 2008 and 2011, the country enjoyed a cumulative growth of nearly 16 per cent. According to the European Commission, the region’s GDP will increase by over 1.4 per cent in 2014 and 2 per cent in 2015. Poland is set to grow by 2.5 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.

The EU accession has significantly contributed to the rapid transformation of the region. In the 2007-2013 budget over £165 billion of structural funds streamed into Emerging Europe. Poland was the biggest beneficiary in nominal terms (£65.5 billion) and the Czech Republic in per capita terms (£1,667). Now, between 2014 and 2020, another £140 billion will flow to Emerging Europe with almost half the total amount allocated in Poland (£68.7 billion).

Supported by economic growth, consumption is rising fast. Eurostat says that between 1990 and 2005, the mean expenditure per adult equivalent increased by over 50 per cent, while in Bulgaria and Romania it more than doubled.

The Emerging Europe economies offer a relatively business friendly environment. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2014, Poland is ranked at 45th position, 10 places higher than in 2013.

Economic reforms as well as the region’s favourable location conditions makes the region an ideal place for foreign direct investment (FDI). According to the UN’s World Investment Report 2013, Emerging Europe attracted over £52 billion of FDI in 2011 and 2012, mainly in the automotive sector, research and development, financial services, electronic goods, telecommunications and IT.

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