Almost 500 Lithuanian hauliers have already moved to Poland, and their fleets are set to expand
The number of Lithuanian transport companies opening branches abroad is growing. Almost 500 carriers from the Baltic nation already operate in Poland alone; as recently as the beginning this year, the number was less than a hundred.
According to road transport companies, the reason behind the rise in Polish subsidiaries and branches is that it allows hauliers to protect themselves against the effects of the Mobility Package without the need to completely move their company out of Lithuania itself.
Nevertheless, experts stress that Lithuanian carriers are becoming more and more involved in the development of their branches abroad (mainly in Poland, Germany and Belgium), and that this poses a significant threat to the Lithuanian budget and the local supply chain.
This means that they are gradually stopping their activities in the country. Companies established outside Lithuania are now registering new trucks, hiring truck drivers and taking out loans from banks, says Zenonas Buivydas, secretary general of the Linava road haulage association.
It’s much easier in Poland
Ignas Volbikas, a member of the board of Savesta Consulting, a company offering transport activity registration services in Poland, has stated that Lithuanian businesses are choosing Poland because of the simpler procedures it has for employing professional drivers:
One of the reasons for relocating activities [to Poland] is that the carriers did not receive additional quotas for the employment of third-country nationals – says Ignas Volbikas.
At the beginning of the year, the Lithuanian authorities introduced a limit on the employment of people from outside the European Union. The transport industry received an annual quota of 11,600 work permits for drivers from third countries, but carriers had already used this quota up by May.
Taking into account the trends, the number of authorizations should be at least twice as high. Over the past two years, Lithuania has used up almost 30,000 driving licenses for professional drivers from outside the European Union – states Povilas Drižas, secretary general of the International Transport and Logistics Alliance.
Defective economic policy
The Lithuanian road transport market has been experiencing a serious crisis for several years. Some hauliers have been hit by extremely high transport insurance costs and a lack of staff, but now the Mobility Package, the pandemic and the increase in driver salaries is taking its toll too.
According to Linava, last year there was a 45% decrease in the registrations of new trucks in Lithuania compared to the year before, which amounts to 3,000 lorries.
Carriers are no longer investing in rolling stock [in Lithuania]. These are not even real data, because not all carriers are members of the association – says Zenonas Buivydas, secretary general of the Linava association.
It is estimated that by the end of this year, Lithuanian road transport firms will manage a combined fleet of about 4-4,500 HGVs in Poland.