Polish Foreign Investment Fell to $7.7 Bln Last Year

Poland attracted $7.7 billion in foreign direct investment in 2005, almost half the amount brought in during 2004, mainly because of France Telecom SA (FTE)'s 2004 purchase of an additional stake in the national phone company.

Foreign investments were 45 percent lower than in 2004, when they totaled $12.9 billion, Jozef Sobota, a member of the National Bank of Poland's management board, said today.

Poland, whose $307 billion economy is the largest among the 10 mainly eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004, is competing for foreign investment with its neighbors and the 15 older EU states that often have higher labor and production costs.

``Poland's a great place,'' said Martin Oxley, head of the Polish-British Chamber of Commerce, at a press conference in Warsaw. ``It has growth potential, a skill base that is unbeatable in Europe, a good location, and the potential to become a global manufacturing and services market for global corporations.''

The earlier year's results were boosted by France Telecom's purchase of 10 percent of Telekomunikacja Polska SA shares, boosting its control further.

France Telecom is Poland's largest single investor, followed by Amsterdam-based Eureko BV.

The biggest investment projects in 2005 came from LG.Philips LCD Co., the world's largest maker of liquid crystal displays, and the U.K.'s Cadbury Schweppes Plc, which said it will invest 70 million pounds ($125 million) on a new gum factory in Poland.

Still, the Czech Republic attracted 43 percent more foreign direct investment than Poland last year, according to the United Nations' trade agency.

``In the Czech Republic, investors have one institution they go to and who can offer them an investment package,'' said Adam Zolnowski, head of the Polish investment agency, at a press conference in Warsaw. ``We need a one-stop shop for investors that would have the authority and responsibility to take decisions.''

The Czech government spent $8.9 million on promoting the country to foreign investors last year, compared with $3.6 million in Poland, said Zolnowski.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katya Andrusz in Warsaw at kandrusz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Kirkham on ckirkham@bloomberg.net

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