Strengthening Recovery On The Cards In 2014
BMI is slightly more optimistic about the Polish economy, relative to our last quarterly shipping report. We now estimate 2013 GDP growth at 1.4% (marginally up from 1.3%) and forecast 2014 growth to gather pace to 2.6% (up from 2.3%). As far as the dynamics are concerned, we believe the recession of the first half of 2013 has now bottomed out and growth is being driven by a recovery in eurozone export demand, coupled with stronger consumer demand in the domestic market.
Domestically, low inflation, solid wage growth and an improving labour market are all helping strengthen household purchasing power. Politically, the Civic Platform administration of Prime Minister Donald Tusk has been doing poorly in the opinion polls and relies on a dangerously slim parliamentary majority. The opposition Law and Justice party has benefited from popular dissatisfaction with corruption and currently has an opinion poll lead of almost 10 percentage points. That said, we believe the balance of probabilities is that the Civic Platform will serve out its term to October 2015, and do better as the economy gradually improves.
We expect the country's major maritime ports will see positive growth in 2014, in most cases at rates significantly above GDP expansion. This is especially so in the case of Gdansk, which will continue to see double-digit percentage growth reflecting its capacity expansion and gateway role. The largest global container line, Maersk Line, is its customer, and the shipping company now offers the facility as a port of call on some of its direct Asia-Europe services, offering Poland's importers and exporters cheaper and quicker transport links to ports in China. While at a lower single-digit percentage rate, Gdynia is also expected to grow, having enhanced its container role following its addition as a port of call on Hapag-Lloyd's service and further improvements of its intermodal links.
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