Exports occupy an important place in the economy of the Małopolska region. According to a report by the Małopolska Economic Observatory, exports in the said Voivodeship increased by 5% in 2012 (its value reached EUR 7.2 billion). The exports of the Małopolska region were based on the exportation of manufacturing products; this sector is responsible for 75% of exports value; a 21% share belongs to the companies operating within the wholesale and retail trade sectors.
Manufacturing generated exports whose value amounted to almost EUR 5.43 billion in 2012, which means an increase by 0.5% when compared to 2011. The trade sector generated goods and services with a value exceeding EUR 1.54 billion. The authors of the report state that the source of the region’s export power might be in weapons and ammunition, articles of stone and leather, base metals and plastics.
Małopolska exports mainly products from the manufacturing sector and goods for wholesale and retail trade: they constituted almost 97% of total imports in 2012. In 2012 imports in the manufacturing sector amounted to EUR 3.67 billion and in the wholesale and retail trade – EUR 3.78 billion.
Good at exporting
The Małopolska region has a positive trade balance in the products of manufacturing; exports exceeded imports by EUR 1.5 billion in 2011 and by EUR 1.76 billion in 2012. The Voivodeship’s foreign-trade exchange is characterised by a high degree of goods concentration (which is its specific feature) and spatial concentration (in respect of the recipients of exports or the source of imports) which in turn characterises the total of Polish trade exchange. In the value structure of the Małopolska region’s exports (analogous to the whole of Poland) the predominant part of exports goes to European countries. It amounted to EUR 5.2 billion in 2010 (91% of the total exports) and increased by EUR 1 billion in 2011, constituting 90% of the total exportation from the Małopolska region.
In 2012 the rate of growth dipped slightly and export value amounted to EUR 6.4 billion without affecting the overall percentage share. Exports to “old” EU markets have remained in absolute terms at the same level of EUR 3.95 billion, but in terms of share it decreased by 3%. More than 40% of these goods went to the German market (41.3% in 2011 and 42.3% in 2012). Countries classified as Central-and-Eastern Europe received products and services whose value amounted to EUR 574.7 million in 2011. In 2012 the exports of the Małopolska region to the same area increased by 7% and reached EUR 620.1 million. Exports to the south increased year on year by 14%; the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary received in 2012 goods and services whose value amounted to EUR 1.23 billion.
Many companies that operate in the Małopolska region export the majority of its production to foreign markets. These include for example Ericpol and Cormach from Kraków and also Azoty from Tarnów, which are leading producers of polyamides, copolymers and caprolactams.
The Fakro Company, the second largest sunroof manufacturer in the world, has three plants in Ukraine (i.a in Lviv). The company employs 570 people. Fakro’s investments in Ukraine are targetting the Russian market because the duty on exports of Fakro's products from Poland to Russia is 20% and duty on the products manufactured in Ukraine and exported to Russia is not levied. More than 70% of Fakro’s products manufactured in Ukraine are exported to Russia. Foreign expansion is also planned by Maspex. Its products are available in e.g. Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, the Baltic countries, the Balkans, Russia and Ukraine. The foreign branches include Maspex Kaliningrad, Maspex Vostok and Mark IV in Russia, as well as Maspex Ukraine LLC and Tymbark Ukraina LLC in Ukraine.
Funds for promotions, exhibitions, certificates
The Małopolska region has programmes and institutions which are involved in aiding exports. This aim is supported by national export-oriented initiatives based on EU funds and consistently implemented in every voivodeship, Małopolskie included. The initiatives facilitate the obtaining, for instance, of a subsidy for the participation of companies in promotional projects.
The Foreign Expansion Fund created in November 2014 within the “Polish investments” programme belongs to such initiatives. It helps small and medium-sized enterprises which plan to invest abroad to benefit from financing, which ranges from a few to over a dozen million PLN. According to announcements made by BGK, the main benefit of such a form of support will be, for example, the sharing of the investment risk between private and public investors, and capital co-financing. It will facilitate the access to, e.g. bank funding, thanks to the so-called “certificate of quality” which emanates from public partner’s participation. Currently analyses of the demand for such financing are being conducted.
The work on the creation of the Fund documentation is due to start after the completion of this stage (1st quarter of 2015). Simultaneously the initial projects are to be prepared for fast implementation when the Fund starts operating. The Foreign Expansion Fund will be placed within the structure of TFI BGK. It will operate in the form of the Non-public Assets Closed-end Investment Fund (FIZAN). Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego will finance the Fund’s certificates from the financial resources received from the State Treasury. The initial Fund's capital will amount to PLN 100 million and it can rise to PLN 1.5 billion within seven years.
The set of four regulations concerning de minimis aid provided to entrepreneurs for the promotion and support of Polish exports constitutes a new national initiative approved by the Government on 4 November 2014. Its total value for one entrepreneur cannot exceed EUR 200 thousand in the current or the two preceding tax years. The funding amounts to 50% of the eligible investment costs.
The Minister of the Economy can provide assistance if the entrepreneurs submit an application for the project financing within 30 days before the date of the project launch and at the latest by 31 October of the calendar year in which the project will be implemented. Those time limits do not apply to the year 2014. The deadline for the submission of applications expires on 31 May 2021.
The first regulation from the set concerns the providing of de minimis aid for launching promotional projects within particular industries, in the field of exports or sales on the internal EU market. It includes the implementation of projects whose purpose is to promote products and services or to establish commercial contacts, for projects launched within one calendar year and comprising at least two separate forms of promotional activity organised by the project coordinator: shows, tastings, exhibitions, fairs, presentations, displays, industry meetings, press conferences, training sessions, seminars and workshops. The project should be implemented within the same or a few related industries or product groups by a group of at least four entrepreneurs. The aid limit amounts to PLN 100 thousand per project including PLN 8 thousand per company. The application is to be submitted by the project coordinator, who can be chosen by the participants from the entrepreneurs participating in the project or other entities.
The second regulation concerns the requirements for the provision of public aid which can be used for obtaining the product certificate required on the foreign markets, excluding the certificates valid on the internal EU market. The aid limit: PLN 50 thousand. The application is to be submitted by one entrepreneur.
The regulation on providing aid for the promotion and the support of exports and sales on the internal EU market involves project implementation in Poland and abroad. The aid may be used to cover expenditures connected with the rental of a hall with the equipment, sound system, technical staff, additional lighting, printing informational and conference materials, translation and other costs resulting from the specific nature of the implemented project. The aid limit is not specified. The application is to be submitted by one entrepreneur.
The regulation concerning the publishing projects related to promoting exports or sales on the internal EU market defines the form of subsidy for the partial covering of costs. The financing can be devoted to publications and export-related and collective advertising materials. The eligible costs considered in the aid programme include the expenditures connected with the purchase of paper, printing, typesetting, CD pressing, the costs of translation or the shipping of publications to the final recipient. The aid limit is not specified. The aid is not granted for the publication of the advertising materials of only one entrepreneur.
All information on the national programmes supporting exports is available on the websites of the institutions and offices of the Małopolskie Voivodeship.
Assistance centres and foreign networks
The Małopolska region also has its own ideas for the promotion of exports. It has created, e.g., the Business in Małopolska Centre, an enterprise unique on the national level, to improve investor and exporter assistance and to promote the economy of the Małopolskie Voivodeship. The main purpose of Business in Małopolska is to create a coherent and comprehensive system of cooperation for the institutions in the Małopolska region which are to promote the region’s economic potential, improve the investor service standards and to increase the support of entrepreneurs from the Małopolska region in the field of export activity.
The Business in Małopolska Centre (CeBiM) consists of the regional government of the Małopolskie Voivodeship, the Małopolska Regional Development Agency, the Kraków Technology Park and Małopolskie Parki Przemysłowe Sp. z o.o. (Małopolska Industrial Parks Ltd.). “Business in Małopolska”, the commercial brand of the region, along with the graphic sign with the same name and the website (www.businessinmalopolska.com), was created following the CeBiM's initiative. The said website constitutes a source of information for the business-related institutions, domestic entrepreneurs and exporters interested in the promotion of their products and services and businesses planning to invest in the region. The services of CeBiM include an integrated system of investor assistance (one-stop-shop), a system of public support of investments, a database of export-oriented entreprises and foreign partners, the support of exporters from the region through its own resources or EU funds, the coordination of economic promotional activities, and the reinforcement of the economic image of the Małopolska region. The Investor and Exporter Assistance Centre (COIE) operates within the CeBiM.
One of the CeBiM’s initiatives is “Business in Małopolska – Partnership Network”. This project, implemented by the Małopolska Regional Development Agency and the Małopolskie Voivodeship, received the financing from the Regional Operational Programme for the Małopolska region – Measure 8.2 “Building the position of the Małopolska region in the European cooperation network." It is to be implemented by mid-2015. The purpose of the project is to create regional branches – economic satellites of the regions in the target countries. Such methods are used by the most powerful European regions - Tuscany, Bavaria, Rhône-Alpes and Catalonia.
The Małopolska region intends to be the first Polish region to have a foreign institution network acting i.a. in support of the exports of the Małopolska region and the internationalisation of enterprises. A similar agency to the Małopolska region’s has been created in Riga, Latvia, in Ukraine (the Lviv Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and in Kaliningrad (the “Victoria” Science and Technology Foundation for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises). The branches offer i.a. assistance in establishing business contacts with partners from the Małopolska region and the whole country, the support of the organisation of economic missions and business meetings, the possibility of participation in promotional events, presentations and business conferences, and free economic information.
Apart from the CeBiM, exporters are also supported by the Marshal Office of the Małopolskie Voivodeship (the Małopolska Economic Observatory operates under the auspices of the Office), the Małopolska Regional Development Agency (which concentrates on the development of land, the administration of European programmes, and cooperation with local governments; The Małopolska Regional Development Agency is an important regional institution in the field of the administration of EU grants for the SME sector: as a regional financing institution the Agency has created its own instruments for the financial support of enterprises), the Kraków Technology Park (which provides, i.a., support for academic projects and manages the Małopolska Special Economic Zone), Małopolskie Parki Przemysłowe Sp. z o.o. (opened in 2005 by the Małopolskie Voivodeship and the Kraków Technology Park), the Małopolskie Voivodeship Office, the Kraków City Office, the City Development Division (Investor Assistance Centre) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Kraków (which promotes the member companies in Poland and abroad). The promotional activities in the region are conducted by, i.a., the Chamber of Commerce in Chrzanów, Tarnów and Nowy Sącz.