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Polish Economic Growth Will Exceed 3% This Year, Belka Says

Poland’s economy, which last year expanded at the fastest pace since 2008, will grow more than 3 percent this year, central bank Governor Marek Belka said.

“I’m more optimistic than most” analysts about the country’s economic growth prospects for this year, Belka said in an interview with Maryam Nemazee on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse” at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland today.

Gross domestic product rose 4.3 percent in 2011 from the year-earlier period, compared with a revised 3.9 percent in 2010, the Central Statistical Office in Warsaw said today. The medium estimate of 27 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 4.2 percent. The government forecasts 2.5 percent growth this year, the central bank’s projection is 3.1 percent.

Poland’s economy, the largest of the European Union’s eastern states, was the only one in the 27-nation bloc to avoid a recession in 2009. EU funds improved infrastructure and modernized production, while a weaker zloty kept exports growing even as the euro area’s debt crisis damped demand in the country’s most important markets, including Germany.

The yield on the 10-year Italian bond was 35 basis points above Polish notes with the same maturity. In mid-October, Polish yields were higher than Italy’s.

‘Bumpy Road’

Belka doesn’t expect the euro area to break up, “but we’re up for a bumpy road for the next few years,” Belka said.

EU leaders will next week discuss tighter budget rules to ensure public debt in euro members doesn’t reach dangerous levels in the future. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said in Davos today the authorities were “very close” to reaching a solution to Greece’s debt woes.

Investors are gaining confidence in the zloty, Belka said. The currency has appreciated 7 percent this month after slumping 14 percent against the euro last year. The strengthening may help combat inflation, Belka said. Consumer prices rose 4.6 percent in December from a year earlier, faster than the central bank’s 2.5 percent target for a 15th month.

“We’re seeing improving sentiment on the zloty,” Belka said. That trend “should alleviate our inflation worries a bit.”

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