Why export to Eastern Europe? When an economy is liberated, consumerism rises rapidly. So is the case in the Eastern European EU accession countries: the first wave that joined the EU on 1 May 2004 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Slovenia), the two countries that joined on 1 January 2007 (Romania and Bulgaria) and Croatia (July 2013).
This market is made up of 11 EU member states and over 120 million consumers located in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The trans-European road and transport networks and the Schengen Zone arrangements greatly ease movement of goods between EU states (Romania, Bulgaria & Croatia have applications pending to join Schengen area and Jean-Claude Juncker has called for their immediate inclusion).
Demand for Western goods, hitherto unavailable, is high. The emerging middle class aspires to the prestige afforded by UK brands, seen as status symbols. As the economy grows, so does the middle class, and the export market expands accordingly.
The region has a highly-educated population and English is in widespread use as the business language. UK exports to Eastern Europe are worth over £16 billion, with goods exports doubling over the past decade, and services exports – over £4 billion – trebling.
It may have been some time since some of these countries came into the fold, and indeed the World Bank describes their economies as fully transitioned to advanced market economies, but demand shows little sign of diminishing and economies are growing robustly, at an average of double the UK’s economy. Not for nothing is this region also known as Emerging Europe. Poland was immune from the global recession from 2009, actually seeing its economy grow. Romania’s economy is growing too, at 5.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2017, while Czech growth rose to 4.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, well above the 2.9 percent forecast.
In fact, World Bank forecasts show the economy of every Emerging Europe country growing from the present period until 2019. Unsurprising then that Export to Eastern Europe is one of the most popular enquiries entered into search engines by UK businesses
UK Trade and Investment advises that over £170bn worth of structural and cohesion funds have been allocated to the region by the EU between 2014 and 2020. This acts as a massive boost to the economy and is a helping hand to foreign investors and companies looking to export to Eastern Europe.
The UK Trade and Investment Board website is an invaluable guide to the region, while emerging-europe.com gives in-depth analysis of each country in the region and exportbritain.org.uk provides useful market snapshots.
Polish Business Link offers advice and is a treasure trove of resources, links and technical information about all aspects of Polish/British business, as well as Export to Eastern Europe.