According to a report by the Trend Economy web portal, Lithuanian exports in 2020 were worth $32 billion in total. Compared to 2019, the volume of goods that Lithuania supplied abroad decreased by only 1.19% in 2020. The most commonly exported goods were furniture products, accounting for 8.08% of exports, and industrial equipment, accounting for 8.74%. The Lithuanian furniture industry employs over 50 thousand people.
“Lithuanian industry has been growing steadily over the past 5 years. Of course the pandemic has impacted the economy, but export volumes remain strong. Due to coronavirus restrictions, Lithuanian exports are going to different countries,” says Jonas Krukis, Trade Lane Manager in AsstrA’s France Division. “The number of imports to the Baltics has decreased, as has the volume of transit flows from Western Europe and the USA to Russia. It is unprofitable for carriers to transport goods from Lithuania abroad at “dock” rates, since there is no guarantee that there will be a load on the way back.”
The imbalance between imports and exports has been exacerbated by the fact that the majority of Lithuanian carriers have leased their vehicle fleet to Western European companies. As a result, there is an acute shortage of vehicles available for export routes.
Despite market fluctuations in October 2020, AsstrA's representative office in Vilnius resumed its work with a major Lithuanian manufacturer of furniture parts. During the first lockdown, the factory’s operations were suspended. Since June, production has resumed and volumes are gradually returning to their previous levels. AsstrA is primarily helping the company transport furniture tape from Lithuania to France by road.
When the pandemic struck, transportation prices skyrocketed and the "dock" rates from earlier in 2020 became unworkable. The AsstrA team had a choice: maintain traffic volume knowing that deliveries would be late and over budget or objectively assess the new realities and frankly discuss them with the client. The AsstrA team chose the second option.
“In a candid discussion with the client, we shared the hard truths about the traffic flows and the higher rates necessary to ensure on-time deliveries. Thanks to this approach, the client continues to view AsstrA as a long-term partner providing superior transport services. On average, we send 2-4 cars a week from Lithuania to France, with more shipments every month. By the end February we had shipped more than 40 units. The client is satisfied with the quality of services on the chosen trade lane and is expanding cooperation with AsstrA. In 2021, the AsstrA team organized the first deliveries from Lithuania to the UK,” adds Jonas Krukis.