Poland’s economy grows 4.2 percent in Q3

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s economy, one of Europe’s strongest, saw third-quarter growth accelerate to 4.2 percent year-on-year, the Central Statistical Office said Tuesday.

The economy, the largest among the European Union’s ex-communist members, has managed to keep growing thanks to upbeat shoppers and a stronger-than-expected recovery in neighboring Germany, even while the rest of Europe slipped into recession.

The third-quarter result far surpassed second-quarter annual growth of 3.5 percent.

“GDP growth significantly exceeded our forecast,” said economist Monika Kurtek of Bank BPH in Warsaw, which now predicts full year 2010 growth at 3.4-3.5 percent.

Despite the performance, Kurtek said she is disappointed by the “structure of economic growth” — with private consumption driving it and private investments remaining on hold. Any improvement in investments this year was the result of infrastructure projects financed by the European Union and the Polish state.

Poland, which has a population of 38 million, also faces several other challenges, including high unemployment — at 11.5 percent in October — and a ballooning deficit projected to reach 7.9 percent of GDP this year.

Jitters sparked by the crisis in Ireland and fears that other weak economies such as Portugal might need bailouts, too, also have caused Poland’s currency, the zloty, to weaken in recent days.

The central bank governor, Marek Belka, stressed Tuesday that the weakening zloty is no cause for concern and would even help exporters.

“As soon as the turbulence on the market settles down, the zloty will start to strengthen,” Belka said in an interview on the radio station RMF FM. “There is no reason for panic.”

The zloty was trading around 3.93 to the euro early last week but slipped to 4.07 Tuesday.

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