Poland and Russia have thrashed out an agreement to keep road transport links open this year, a Polish government official announced on April 1. The two will now attempt to reach a longer-term agreement, despite clear antagonism between them.
Road transport between the two countries, which requires state-issued permits, was temporarily suspended earlier this year as Warsaw and Moscow argued over renewing the permissions. The two sides have now agreed on the number of permits each will make available for hauliers, although the Polish side made it clear the agreement is not seen as perfect.
“[I’m aware] of the fact the number of permits allowing transport of goods made in third countries is not satisfactory, but that’s what we had to agree this time,” deputy Infrastructure and Construction Minister Jerzy Szmit told PAP. Warsaw and Moscow will now start working on a long-term agreement regulating road transport, he added.
The interim agreement offers Polish companies the opportunity to carry on business in the meantime. Road transport between Poland and Russia was suspended in mid-February, as the pair failed to agree on the new batch of permits for 2016. Moscow’s 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.
The staunchly anti-Russian government in Warsaw has accused Moscow of trying to eliminate Polish hauliers from the Russian market. 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 operating out of Poland.
Russia is no stranger to rifts with its neighbours in the north east corner of the EU, especially 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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