While successive governments are trying to draw the attention of Polish exporters to exotic directions such as Africa or Asia, the EU continues to dominate the structure of Polish exports, especially Germany and the Czech Republic. Neighbouring markets are often natural, the first step in the expansion of companies. Geographic and cultural proximity does not mean that such expansion is free from risk. Payment defaults, dishonest contractors as well as procedural requirements or problems with obtaining local financial guarantees can be a barrier to the development of Polish companies abroad.
The Polish export market has been steadily growing, mainly for Western European countries, which we have seen for years, but there are new directions, such as Central and Eastern European countries, where export is being rebuilt. There were times when this region was responsible for as much as 17 percent of the total export. In 2016 it was about 8 percent, but we are still seeing an upward trend.
In 2016 Czech Republic was the third export partner of Poland. Entrepreneurs sent goods worth nearly PLN 52.4 billion over the Vltava River. That is about 230 million PLN less than the value of products shipped to the UK. Both countries had a share in Polish exports of 6.6%. In the first half of 2017, the Czechs managed to overtake the British, although the share of both countries fell to 6.4 percent. However, we sold our southern neighbours products for PLN 27.3 billion, which is PLN 67 million more than we sent to Great Britain.
Trade can accelerate by the implementation of the so-called Three Seas idea. This is an international economic and political initiative bringing together 12 European countries located near the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas. The group consists of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary. However, the presence in the EU, geographic, historical and cultural proximity does not imply that running a business in these countries is not risky.
Each country is different and it is necessary to take into consideration the local conditions that the Polish company has to fulfill when applying for contracts. Taking into account local law, even if these are EU countries and the law is standardized, it always looks a bit different. Some of the texts of documents, including guarantees, are very specific and require in-depth knowledge of the local market.