As the Polish trucker blockade of Ukrainian haulers approaches its one-month mark, the economic toll on Ukraine's businesses is mounting. Since November 6, approximately 2,500 trucks have been stranded at the Ukrainian border with Poland, as Polish truckers protest, demanding the European Union to terminate permit-free access for Ukrainian trucks—a measure enacted at the start of Russia's war.
The repercussions are extensive, with a day of downtime at the Polish-Ukrainian border costing a single company around Hr 1 million (about $27,000) in losses, according to the European Business Association. Direct losses to Ukraine's economy, estimated by the Federation of Employers of Ukraine, have reached approximately 400 million euros ($437 million) as of November 22. Ukrainian exports by truck have notably declined from $614 million in October to $465 million over the first 26 days of November.
The blockade's impact on supply chains is profound, complicating the delivery of imports to Ukraine. Retailers warn of potential shortages and anticipate increased prices for consumers if the situation persists. While Ukrainian and Polish officials have agreed to permit the entry of empty heavy-duty vehicles into Ukraine, this does not address the challenges faced by retailers importing goods for consumers.
ATB, the largest Ukrainian chain of grocery supermarkets, notes that the blockade has disrupted the delivery of imported products from European countries, including Poland, the Baltic states, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The surge in demand for transportation and the complexities of crossing the border have significantly elevated logistics costs. Delays in the delivery of perishable goods passing through alternative border crossings have extended to about a week, while other food products face wait times of one to two weeks.
Businesses are striving to mitigate the impact. For instance, Epicenter K, a national home improvement hypermarket chain, is taking measures to ensure customers do not feel the effects of the blockade. Efforts include reducing import dependence, favoring national suppliers, and developing in-house production.
However, concerns persist that a prolonged strike could lead to more severe consequences, including widespread product shortages and price increases in December. The situation underscores the vulnerability of supply chains and emphasizes the interconnectedness of economies. A resolution is urgently needed to restore stability in cross-border trade, and the situation highlights the imperative for international cooperation and diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of the blockade.