The geography of openness to foreign trade in Poland: The role of special economic zones and foreign-owned entities

Jarosław M. Nazarczuk, Stanisław Umiński



The aim of this paper is to present the spatial distribution of openness to foreign trade assessed at the local level (LAU 1, poviats) in Poland, between 2005 and 2012, with particular reference to its two determinants: activity of foreign- owned enterprises (FOEs) and functioning of special economic zones (SEZs). With the use of data from different sources, including the foreign trade statistics for the Polish regions, constituting a set of indicators on openness to foreign trade, we deliberate on the determinants and the character of regional openness, as well as the quality of the proxies used in order to assess their spatial distribution. Our results indicate high regional dissimilarities in terms of export activity, correlated with the broader picture of regional inequalities. The role of FOEs has been crucial in determining the spatial distribution of exports. As regards the SEZs, their sole contribution increased significantly during the time span. In the times of the world financial crisis, the export performance diversity of poviats increased temporarily but diminished afterwards. 

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