South Korean firms have been investing heavily in Poland in recent years, ever since the two countries signed a strategic partnership in 2013. If South Korea moves further into property, nuclear energy, and airport construction, as planned, Poland might yet fulfill its goal of becoming the Asian powerhouse’s gateway to the European Union.
According to the Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH), there are already 260 South Korean companies investing in the Polish economy, making South Korea the largest Asian investor in the country. It overtook China in 2018.
And more investment is on the way.
While South Korean firms have been investing in a number of Central and Eastern Europe’s economies for years, Poland is the clear favourite: over the last five years the bulk of their investment in the region has been made in Poland (around 56 per cent, or 5.1 billion euros), followed by Czechia (26 per cent; 2.4 billion euros) and then Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
South Korea’s Incheon Airport meanwhile is set to become a strategic partner of the planned Polish air hub, the Central Transportation Port (CPK), a major transit hub integrating air, rail and road traffic 45 kilometres from Warsaw.
Poland’s nuclear ambitions, increasingly important as it moves to diversify its energy mix, still over-reliant on coal, could also see a major role for South Korea.
State-owned Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co (KHNP) has already offered to help Poland build its first nuclear power plants.
South Korea’s involvement in Poland’s shift away from fossil fuel is not limited to nuclear power. In February, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the Polish Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy held their second economic and trade forum with the Visegrád Four (Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) to discuss cooperation in renewable energy.
Then there’s mobility: new South Korean investments in Poland in electric vehicles are also booming.
Indeed, in recent years, South Korea has become a leader in investments in the sector. According to Polish Trade and Investment Agency data, it is responsible for almost two-thirds of all foreign investments carried out in Poland in the sector.