"Delays at the European Union border, road inspections, bureaucracy – these complications are a regular part of transporting cargo from Poland to its east. Such factors have a negative impact on the predictability of the supply chain and the punctuality of cargo delivery. The driver needs a responsible and competent guide who will help him navigate all these challenges. And that’s what we do best," emphasizes Poland Country Manager Mariusz Borkowski.
AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG offers over 1,100 routes on the whole world, including several between Poland and the countries to its east. The most common type of shipment involves FMCG products not affected by import embargoes. Most of the routes are between Poland and European Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, and sometimes the Russian Far East and other CIS countries such as Kazakhstan and Moldova, which account for around 131,000 transported FMCG products and 48,000 tons of cargo, respectively. Around 14,000 tons of FMCG products are shipped between Poland and Uzbekistan, and about 13,000 between Poland and Turkmenistan.
AsstrA Group has 3 Polish offices strategically located in Warsaw, Poznan, and Gdansk. “As an international forwarder and customs broker, the company also runs several in-house customs agencies in Koroszczyn, Białystok, and Kuźnica in Eastern Poland. These agencies significantly facilitate the import and export of goods and reduce the risk of complications during transportation. If necessary, the company can also open branches in “critical” spots like ports or border crossings”, quotes the Regional Director of AsstrA for the EU region Andrzej Iwanow-Kołakowski.
As Poland Country Manager Mariusz Borkowski says, "You can think of AsstrA as a kind of a bridge between the West and East of Europe. We maintain a high standard of customer service backed by 20 years of transport experience, a deep knowledge of local nuances, and the broad competence of our shippers. It all gives us a clear competitive advantage respected by both global and local companies, who consistently express their satisfaction with and confidence in our company’s services."
The company’s success in this transport corridor is therefore due to its commercial capabilities as well as its geographical presence. Poland-Russia Trade Lane Manager Mikołaj Antonowicz highlights, "We have our own rolling stock as well as formal agreements with reloading terminals at the Poland-Belarus and Lithuania-Belarus borders. The combination helps us support smooth and stable shipment flows regardless of political relations between Poland and the countries of the former USSR."
The eastern border of the European Union is geopolitically sensitive. Special complications may arise in regards to transport to Russia. Due to the unstable economic situation in this country and the exchange rate of the Russian ruble, eastward transport is not easy. Nevertheless, it remains in high demand according to Mariusz Borkowski, "Despite constantly weakening economic indicators, Russia is still a huge market. There are 140 million relatively young consumers in need of EU goods. Our annual results for transport to Russia are impressive. We achieved 35% of YoY dynamics that is significantly above the market average."
Apart from the economic situation, there are many other factors which also affect the execution of transport from Poland to its east. An extremely important aspect is the availability of transport permissions owned by carriers operating on the Poland-Russia route. This year, there are twice as many permissions available, but the price of transport services will not necessarily decrease, observes Mariusz Borkowski.
Poland-Russia Trade Lane Manager Mikołaj Antonowicz also notes the wide variety of challenges to be overcome during eastward transportation projects. In addition to the difficulties that arise from harsh winter weather conditions, poor-quality fuel and the lack of services in rural areas are also huge obstacles. "More problems also result from long waiting times at customs offices and the large quantity of documents to be carried by drivers. Issues related to poor infrastructure for drivers and the necessity of speaking Russian do not make it any easier," he says.
Despite these many difficulties, AsstrA experts consistently meet client needs and expectations by successfully providing transport services for the most demanding routes.
“2017 was a challenging year. As March ended and April began, we contended with rapid price increases for transport services and fluctuations in the Russian ruble exchange rate. Also, tighter regulation of Russian transport services made doing business considerably more difficult. That was a tough exam for us which, in my opinion, we passed with a great results,” sums up Poland-Russia Trade Lane Manager Mikołaj Antonowicz. “Taking into consideration the previous year, we can definitely say that we increased not only our client base but also the number of our subcontractors. Customers and carriers are entrusting us with more and more of their business because they see us as a stable partner with whom they can develop."
AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG is an ambitious multinational transport service provider. The company is constantly developing innovative logistics solutions. According to the Regional Director of AsstrA for the EU region Andrzej Iwanow-Kołakowski, “One of the latest concepts is a Trade Lane Management - a peculiar matrix for managing customer goods flows. Trade lane managers at AsstrA are experienced and ambitious specialists from operational departments, responsible for extremely important tasks in the field of running a business. Maintaining partner relations with transport companies, estimating prices, maximizing contract terms within set routes, pricing and offering alternative modes of transport - all this is the responsibility of trade lane managers.” All these activities are aimed at facilitating transport even along such demanding routes as from Poland to its east.
“The Russian market is difficult to predict. On the one hand, the rising price of oil, on which the Russian economy is largely based, might stimulate real trade. On the other hand, the Russian presidential election in Russia is approaching, and during the election cycle the economy may be artificially propped up. Either way, despite the introduction of tit-for-tat embargoes on certain goods, we can see an annual increase in the volume of transport between our countries. I also think that the current year will not break the trend," sums up Poland-Russia Trade Lane Manager Mikołaj Antonowicz.