Poland and Russia strike interim agreement to reopen road transport links

By bne IntelliNews February 19, 2016

Poland and Russia have reached an interim agreement to allow road transport between them to resume, a Polish government official said on February 19.

The pair has agreed truck companies can carry goods between the two countries until April 15, creating hope a more permanent solution can be found. Road transport links have been frozen since Warsaw and Moscow became deadlocked on the renewal of haulage permits earlier this month.

Warsaw and Moscow have been negotiating rules for some months. However, talks have so far failed to agree a new batch of permits for 2016. That forced the two countries to remove their trucks from one another's borders by February 15.

Poland considers recent changes to Russian transport regulations discriminatory, and claims Moscow is carrying out a plan to eliminate Polish hauliers from the Russian market. Moscow’s very strict limits on haulage of goods from third countries into Russia have been tweaked to encompass goods produced in Poland by foreign companies, Warsaw claims. It is a means of gaining a competitive advantage on the Russian market, Polish experts claim, pointing out that Polish hauliers are larger and more efficient than their Russian peers.

Poland’s deputy Transport Minister Jerzy Szmit now suggests Russia may be ready to alter some of those rules. That will allow an interim permit system to be put in place by April 15, he said. 

In the negotiations, [Polish and Russian] experts have reached a “strong agreement,” PAP reported Szmit as saying. “Not all has been agreed yet, but it is looking very good,” the official added.

At stake is an estimated €400mn in annual turnover that Polish transport companies earned last year by moving goods to Russia, according to ZMPD, an organisation of international transport companies in Poland.

Russia is no stranger to rifts with its neighbours in the north east corner of the EU, espcially since the Ukraine crisis kicked off in late 2013. Lithuania's vital transport sector has suffered several hits over the past few years as relations with Moscow have nose-dived.




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