Economist Alexei Zubets assessed the situation
The strike of Polish road carriers, which blocked all checkpoints on the Ukrainian-Polish border for Ukrainian truckers, will last until January. Now carriers from Slovakia are planning to join them. MK, together with an expert, is looking into how this will affect the Ukrainian economy and whether a complete land blockade of Ukraine is possible.
The Polish strike has been going on for almost two weeks, and discussions around it continue. However, now Slovakia may join the strike.
Yesterday, Slovak truckers blocked the passage of Ukrainian carriers for one hour – November 16 from 13 to 14 hours local time. The Union of Road Carriers of Slovakia, like their Polish colleagues, is dissatisfied with the EU decision on benefits for Ukrainian truck drivers and demands their abolition. Union representative Stanislav Skala noted that if no changes in the situation occur within a week, then Slovak truckers will completely block the checkpoint on the border with Ukraine.
If this happens, then Ukraine will have very few transportation options left cargo. They can only be transported through Romania and Hungary, which will take much longer. In addition, the queues at these checkpoints will increase significantly. Thus, on November 10, at the checkpoint on the border with Romania, 2,805 trucks stood in line, and 259 passed through in one day.
told MK what economic consequences are possible for Ukraine and how other border countries might behave in this conflict:
– The main border for Ukraine is still Polish, especially after the cessation of exports by sea. Slovakia, Hungary and Romania are located beyond the Carpathians, and the Carpathians are mountains and are not easy to cross. The flat border is Poland.
Why did this crisis arise? In 2022, the Poles abolished the permitting nature of border crossings for Ukrainian trucks, and due to their lower costs, they occupied the transportation market between Ukraine and Poland with the EU. Secondly, they began to work more on the Polish domestic market, transporting Polish goods to Europe.
For Polish truck drivers, this is a blow. They are losing the market. And they closed the border to force their government to return to the previous permitting nature of border crossing for Ukrainian trucks.
After this, the Ukrainians traveled across other borders, including through Slovakia. If you move from northeast to west, Slovakia is next. Now Slovakia has problems. Accordingly, local truckers also had a desire to participate in restricting freedoms for Ukrainian carriers.
And for Ukraine this is actually an economic disaster, because after their maritime transportation fell, and before that Ukrainian trade, compared to 2021, fell by half, now it may fall another half. Simply due to the fact that transporting goods to Europe has become extremely difficult.
Therefore, the European Commission demanded that the Poles normalize relations with Ukraine at the border. But for now the strike continues. And this is a serious damage to the Ukrainian economy, because local businesses are losing markets. If the products are not delivered, there is a risk of sanctions or simply loss of the market.
– They may lose the remnants of the foreign trade market, and then they can forget about cooperation with Europe. Ukraine's exports amount to 2.5 billion per month. Before the start of the CBO, their monthly trade turnover was about 7 billion.
– They may well.
– It depends on the position trade unions and government. Slovakia is now quite critical of Ukraine. Hungary too. If trade flows are transferred to Hungary, problems may begin there too.
– I think it will be settled on the terms of the return of quotas for the passage of Ukrainian trucks into the territory of the European Union. Cancellation of the quota-free regime is quite possible.