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Ferrari sales show Poland is narrowing economic gap with neighbors.

By Katya Andrus

WARSAW, Poland Dante Cinque had buyers lined up even before opening Ferrari's first Polish showroom, taking over the Warsaw site formerly occupied by the Communist Party.

"Poland is much better than it's perceived abroad, in every way,"

Cinque, general manager of Ferrari Warszawa, said in the store on Nowy Swiat Street, which opened in October,.

"I get the feeling in Poland that wealth is being created."

Poland passed the Netherlands in 2009 to become the sixth-biggest economy in the 27-nation European Union, according to exchange-rate adjusted figures from the World Bank,.

The country of 38.2 million people was the only one in the EU to avoid a contraction in 2009, with growth of 1.8%,.

While most nations struggle to emerge from the worst recession since World War II, the World Bank forecasts growth of 3.5% in 2010.

Poland's WIG20 blue-chip stock index gained more than 9% to the end of November in dollar terms, compared with 3% for the region's benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index,.

Credit Suisse Group, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are expanding in Warsaw as domestic and foreign companies list on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and the government plans to sell $13.2 billion of state assets in 2010-2011.

The country's $430 billion economy has been propelled by manufacturers of products such as car parts and machinery that are exported by Germany; tax cuts from the beginning of 2009 that slashed the top personal income tax rate to 32% from 40%; the 9.7% drop in the zloty against the euro since the beginning of 2008, which has helped make Poland's competitive position; and $88.2 billion of EU grants earmarked through 2013.

"We've built a bastion of growth," Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in a Nov,.

16 press conference on the third anniversary of taking office,.

Poland is prepared for a "test of wills," he said, referring to the EU's next seven-year budget, which may pit the bloc's largest aid recipient against British Prime Minister David Cameron, who wants to curb spending to reduce Britain's record budget deficit.

Average gross wages have increased by almost a third over the last five years, statistics office data show.

"I have clients who have 10 Ferraris in the garage," Cinque said, adding that most of his customers own companies and work in industries including banks and real estate.

Unemployment was 9.7% in October, according to EU figures, compared with 14.1% in Ireland and 20.7% in Spain,.

The economy grew at an annual rate of 4.2% in the third quarter, the fastest pace in two years, buoyed by the 9% increase in retail sales in October.

Liebrecht & wooD is helping build Plac Unii, a $180 million retail and office complex in Warsaw, to capitalize on rising consumer demand,.

The company is betting that the country will turn economic gain into political clout, adding to the attractiveness of real estate in the capital.

"In 10 to 20 years, Poland will be one of 'the' countries in Europe," said Marc Lebbe, a Warsaw-based managing director at Liebrecht & wooD,.

"There's no reason why it shouldn't wield as much power one day as France or Spain or Italy."

"Poland has a long way to go to draw even with 'old' Europe," said Maja Goettig, chief economist at Bank BPH,.

"But we have great potential and we've been able to use the crisis to do some catching up."

WPBLOO

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Geographic Code:4EXPO
Date:Jan 10, 2011
Words:590
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