A Central European nation surrounded by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia, the Republic of Poland shipped US$264 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 35.8% increase since 2015 and a 0.8% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Polish złoty depreciated by -1.9% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -6.1% from 2018 to 2019. Poland’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 71.2% of products exported from Poland were bought by importers in: Germany (27.6% of the global total), Czech Republic (6.1%), United Kingdom (6%), France (5.8%), Italy (4.6%), Netherlands (4.4%), Russia (3.1%), United States (2.9%), Sweden (2.8%), Hungary (also 2.8%), Slovakia (2.6%) and Spain (2.5%).
From a continental perspective, 88.5% of Poland’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 5.3% were sold to importers in Asia. Poland shipped another 3.8% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (1.2%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.6%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.6%).
Given Poland’s population of 38 million people, its total $264 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $7,000 for every resident in the Central European country.
Poland’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Polish global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Poland.
- Machinery including computers: US$36.6 billion (13.9% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $30.1 billion (11.4%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $29.3 billion (11.1%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $14.9 billion (5.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $12.8 billion (4.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $8.8 billion (3.3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $5.9 billion (2.2%)
- Meat: $5.8 billion (2.2%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $5.5 billion (2.1%)
- Wood: $5.3 billion (2%)
Poland’s top 10 exports accounted for almost three-fifths (58.8%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Electrical machinery and equipment was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 4.3% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was machinery including computers via a 4% gain. Poland’s shipments of articles made from iron or steel posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 1.4%.
The leading decliner among Poland’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -13.3% drop year over year, weighed down by shrinking international revenues from coke, semi-coke and refined petroleum oils.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Poland’s most valuable export products are automotive parts or accessories (5.4% of the global total) followed by exported cars (2.6%). Other higher value exported goods from Poland are seats and chairs (2.4%), computers including optical readers (2.3%), miscellaneous furniture (2.1%), TV receivers, monitors or projectors (2%), trucks (1.5%), cigarettes or cigars (1.3%), turbo-jets (also 1.3%) then miscellaneous iron and steel structures (1.1%).
Overall Poland earned a $2 billion trade surplus in 2019, reversing a -$5.9 billion loss one year earlier.
The following types of Polish product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: US$10.9 billion (Down by -1.1% since 2018)
- Meat: $3.9 billion (Down by -3.4%)
- Vehicles: $3.8 billion (Up by 4.8%)
- Machinery including computers: $3.3 billion (Up by 54.7%)
- Wood: $3.3 billion (Down by -4.6%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $3.1 billion (Up by 2.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $2.8 billion (Up by 23.8%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $2 billion (Up by 12.9%)
- Copper: $1.9 billion (Up by 22%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $1.7 billion (Down by -2.7%)
Poland has highly positive net exports in the international trade of chairs, mattresses, prefabricated buildings and lighting-related goods. In turn, these cashflows indicate Poland’s strong competitive advantages under the related product category.
Below are exports from Poland that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Poland’s goods trail Polish importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$14.1 billion (Down by -15.7% since 2018)
- Iron, steel: -$4.2 billion (Down by -20.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$3.4 billion (Down by -6.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.9 billion (Up by 12.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$2.1 billion (Down by -22%)
- Organic chemicals: -$1.8 billion (Down by -24.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$1.1 billion (Up by 21.9%)
- Aluminum: -$985.5 million (Down by -25.8%)
- Other chemical goods: -$953.5 million (Down by -18.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$939.8 million (Down by -8.9%)
Poland has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products notably crude oil.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Poland’s competitive disadvantages in the international energy market, but also represent key opportunities for Poland to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations particularly alternative energy sources.
Polish Export Companies
Seven corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Polish companies that Forbes included.
- KGHM Polska Miedz (diversified metals, mining)
- Pgnig Group (oil, gas)
- PKN Orlen (oil, gas)
Global trade intelligence firm Zepol mentions the following companies as examples of Polish export companies.
- Cimir Poland (seats, furniture parts)
- Nexter Automotive Poland S P Zoo (steering mechanisms, synchronous belts, goods transportation vehicles)
- Radiatym Bogdar Tymkiewicz (iron and stainless steel fittings, frozen fish fillets, palmitic/stearic acid)
- Tristone Flowtech Poland (tubes/pipes/hoses, latex, rubber transmission belts)
In macroeconomic terms, Poland’s total exported goods represent 20.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($1.287 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 20.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 21.5% for 2018. This suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Poland’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Poland’s average unemployment rate was 3.773% for 2019 down from 3.846% one year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Poland’s capital city is Warsaw.
See also Poland’s Top Trading Partners, Poland’s Top 10 Imports and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 23, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 23, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 23, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 23, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 23, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 23, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 23, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Poland. Accessed on March 23, 2020
Wikipedia, Poland. Accessed on March 23, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 23, 2020
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 23, 2020