President’s Blog

The U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration reports 5 main reasons why US companies should export: (i) access to new markets as (ii) 70% of the world’s consumers are outside the US, thereby increasing demand, which is likely to lead to (iii) increased profitability because of the (iv) competitive advantage US companies have over the local market products since the US is known throughout the world for its high quality and innovative products and have a perceived superiority in the marketplace, and finally, and likely still on the minds of executives from the recent economic recession experiences,…(v) a more stable and diversified economic base, resulting in greater risk mitigation from any economic flux (see http://www.trade.gov/cs/factsheet.asp). The real question is where to go and how to get introduced into the market there. The World Trade Center Atlanta (“WTCAtl”) will embark on a series of blogs that follow many of its seminars on trade opportunities for companies around the world based on both country and industry.

One of the most exciting regions of the world for emerging power houses of successful economies with high trade and innovation is in central Europe, specifically in the “Visegrad 4” countries of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary (see http://www.visegradgroup.eu/).  In this blog, we’ll talk briefly about Poland and Czech Republic and several little-known facts about these countries and their value and success in business and trade with the US and Georgia specifically. Poland is in the top 10 largest markets in Europe and goes back and forth from the 6th to the 8th largest depending upon the year and what source you use. While that may not be that surprising, you might be surprised to know that even in its 9th position, it is above Belgium, Austria and Denmark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_European_Union). You might also be surprised to know that only one country in the EU exceeded the growth of trade between the US and Poland since 2009. Whereas trade between the US and other EU countries generally averaged less than a 20% growth rate since 2009, trade between the US and Poland increased by nearly 70% in that period. That’s more than 3 times the rate of growth of any other EU country.  Poland was the only EU country to experience economic growth in 2010 just after the height of the global recession (Council on Foreign Relations see http://www.cfr.org/poland/polands-economic-model/p29506).

What is the one EU country that exceeded Poland in its rate of growth with the US since 2009 you might ask…well, that would be the Czech Republic. Trade with the Czech Republic has doubled since 2009. That’s right….doubled.  You might be thinking, well…that’s probably because we had so little trade with Czech Republic to start with…but you might be surprised to know that the old Czechoslovakia was the most prosperous and industrialized of the former Eastern Bloc countries (including the previous Soviet Union).  The Czech Republic has the highest per capita GDP of any nation in Central or Eastern Europe. Let me repeat that to be sure you didn’t miss it….The Czech Republic has the highest per capita GDP of any nation in Central or Eastern Europe.  When you consider the per capita nature of this statistic, you can’t downplay any of the accomplishments of this country. In just the 20-25 years since its evolution to a capitalist society away from communism, the Czech Republic has produced an economy that exceeds its other central and eastern European countries for its population base, and it has been doing this for decades when compared to its peers.

The real question is why. Why have exports and trade with these 2 countries increased at such dramatically high rates?  There are several reasons, but they can be boiled down into just a few … steady rise in the sophistication of their marketplace, the long-standing quality of products produced, the economic stability of the countries and the previous and continued increase in the wealth of its consumers. So, what are the industries doing particular well in these countries?  Here is a partial list, and if you’re in one of these industries, even the US Commercial Service states that “the regional Czech/Polish markets [represent] a growth opportunity that should not be overlooked…” (see US Commercial Service Market Report on Czech Republic):
•    aerospace/aviation
•    ICT
•    biotech & medical device/equipment
•    greentech/cleantech
•    energy.

If you are in any of these industries and want to explore the markets of Poland and Czech Republic, the State of Georgia and the WTCAtl can help you. The Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce are organizing a mission trip for Georgia companies to travel to these 2 countries in late October 2014 to explore these markets. The WTCAtl is collaborating and will be providing assistance through its sister World Trade Centers (WTCs) in these 2 countries. There are 3 WTCs in Poland and 1 in Czech Republic to help make business introductions to explore market opportunities. Georgia companies exported $455Million dollars-worth of goods to Poland and $87Million to Czech Republic in 2013.

Join us, and let the WTCAtl help you follow the footsteps of others who are seeing the value of the Visegrad 4 region of Central Europe for business.