Gross Domestic Product: $426.7 billion/$11,000 per capita (2003)
Gross Domestic Product Change From 2002: +3.6 percent
Population: 38.6 million
Unemployment: 17.7 percent
Apparel industry employment: 160,000
Textile and apparel exports: $2.8 billion
Textile and apparel exports to U.S.: $63 million, down 1.3 percent.
Key products: Wool suits, cotton pants, silk woven fabric, non-woven fabrics.
Currency: $1 U.S. = 3.66 zloty
Major companies: Corin, Aryton, Salamanta, Intermoda, Etos
This story first appeared in the July 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Poland, like most of the former Soviet-bloc countries, spent much of the 1990s seeking to reinvigorate its economy by privatizing former state-owned companies and encouraging investment. In recent years, Eastern European countries have marketed themselves as lower-cost production platforms than their Western European neighbors and several Italian firms have moved some of their textile operations into Poland. But the migration to cheaper countries is an endless one in the apparel industry, and some industry experts are worried that as apparel quotas are phased out, Polish manufacturers will lose to competitors in Asia as well as other Eastern European countries, particularly if the nation’s recent entry into the European Union causes wages and the standard of living to rise. Apparel represents about 5 percent of Poland’s textile exports, with industrial machinery and chemicals playing a bigger role in its economy. Poland’s major trading partners are other European countries, especially Germany. For the year ended in April, it was the U.S.’s 66th-ranked supplier of apparel and textiles.