Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Polish złoty appreciated by 1.1% against the US dollar since 2016 but declined by -1.6% from 2019 to 2020. Poland’s weaker local currency since 2019 makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 70.9% of products exported from Poland were bought by importers in: Germany (28.9% of the global total), Czech Republic (5.8%), United Kingdom (5.7%), France (5.6%), Italy (4.3%), Netherlands (4.2%), Russia (3%), Sweden (2.9%), United States (2.8%), Spain (2.5%), Hungary (2.5%) and Slovakia (also 2.5%).
From a continental perspective, 88.6% of Poland’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 5.6% were sold to importers in Asia. Poland shipped another 3.6% worth of goods to North America. Tinier percentages went to Africa (1.2%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.6%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.4%).
Given Poland’s population of 38 million people, its total $271.1 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $7,100 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Poland.
- Machinery including computers: US$36.5 billion (13.5% of total exports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $34.3 billion (12.6%)
- Vehicles: $26.3 billion (9.7%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $14.8 billion (5.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $13.1 billion (4.8%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $8.6 billion (3.2%)
- Meat: $5.53 billion (2%)
- Wood: $5.53 billion (2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $5.47 billion (2%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $5.3 billion (2%)
Poland’s top 10 exports accounted for approaching three-fifths (57.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Wood was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 59.5% from 2019 to 2020. In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment via a 34.4% gain. Poland’s shipments of plastics including articles made from plastic posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 11.6%.
There were two annual decliners among Poland’s top 10 export categories namely vehicles (down -11.5%) and meat (down -5%).
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Poland’s most valuable export products are automobile parts or accessories (4.5%), computers including optical readers (2.3%), TV receivers, monitors or projectors (2.2%), seats (also 2.2%), miscellaneous furniture (2.1%), cars (also 2.1%), electric storage batteries (2%), cigarettes or cigars (1.5%), trucks (1.3%) then phone system devices including smartphones (1.2%).
Poland earned an overall $13.9 billion trade surplus in 2020, up 166.4% from $5.2 billion 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$10.6 billion (Down by -0.8% since 2019)
- Vehicles: $5.1 billion (Up by 11.8%)
- Meat: $3.7 billion (Down by -3.3%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $3.6 billion (Up by 14.5%)
- Wood: $3.4 billion (Up by 56.5%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $2.9 billion (Down by -1.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $2.6 billion (Down by -33.9%)
- Cereal/milk preparations: $2.3 billion (Up by 27.6%)
- Ships, boats: $2.2 billion (Up by 221.5%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $1.9 billion (Up by 11.4%)
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-$9.4 billion (Down by -34.8% since 2019)
- Iron, steel: -$4.3 billion (Up by 2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$3.6 billion (Up by 39.6%)
- Organic chemicals: -$1.8 billion (Up by 8.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.7 billion (Up by 6.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$1.7 billion (Down by -43.9%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$1.3 billion (Up by 260.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$986.7 million (Down by -8.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$967.9 million (Up by 76.7%)
- Tanning, dyes, paints, varnishes, ink: -$853.4 million (Up by 10.9%)
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 21.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($1.281 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 21.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 20.5% for 2019. This suggests a relatively increasing 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 6.5% for 2020, up from 5.5% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
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 April 1, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 1, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 1, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 1, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 1, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 1, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 1, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Poland. Accessed on April 1, 2021
Wikipedia, Poland. Accessed on April 1, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 1, 2021
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on April 1, 2021