The Bright Spot In Europe? Polish Economy Grows 4.3 per cent In 2011

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[credit provider=”Sean Gallup / Getty”]

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Despite the European debt crisis, Poland’s economy grew a brisk 4.3 per cent in 2011, even more than its strong 3.9 per cent growth rate for 2010.The preliminary estimate released Friday by the Central Statistical Office underlines how strongly the economy has continued to grow in Poland, the largest of the ex-communist countries now in the 27-nation European Union.

“This is even more than was expected, though close to what we planned a year ago,” Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, expressing satisfaction and saying the numbers show his centre-right government has managed the country well during a time of substantial financial upheaval.

Although Poland’s economy has proven unusually resilient, even growing when the rest of the EU fell into recession in 2009, the pace of its growth is expected to slacken this year due to fallout from Europe’s debt crisis. Various economists and institutions estimate 2012 growth to be in the range of 2.5 to 3 per cent.

The strong growth “cements Poland’s position as Central Europe’s star performer,” wrote analysts at Capital Economics, noting that growth already began to slow in the fourth quarter of 2011. “Poland is better placed than its neighbours to weather the fallout from Europe’s debt crisis, but it is still not immune,” they said in a research note.

Poland still struggles with a number of problems, including a stubbornly high jobless rate. Other statistics released Friday show that unemployment in December jumped to 12.5 per cent from 12.1 per cent in November.

Tusk also expressed satisfaction that the Polish currency, the zloty, has been appreciating for more than a week, giving relief to Poles who have foreign currency loans and to drivers, since gas prices are set in dollars.

“It’s very important to me that I travel to Brussels on Monday as the prime minister of a country that is really managing in the crisis,” Tusk said.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Monday to hammer out a new deal to help prevent future debt crises, especially in the 17-nation eurozone. Tusk has been threatening to not sign the deal unless it allows Poland to participate in talks on the euro, even though his country isn’t yet in the eurozone.

Poland plans to make the currency switch to the euro one day and fears that it is being sidelined.