Publication: Baltic States and Poland Trade Logistics Review: Enhancing Trade Competitiveness by Improving Transport and Logistics

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World Bank
The Baltic States; Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and Poland are situated along strategic trade corridors within Europe, constituting the EUs eastern border with Russia and other CIS countries. EU membership has triggered rapid economic growth for the Baltic States and Poland due to the removal of trade barriers and reduced transaction costs. A heavy influx of EU grants has targeted development and improvement of transport infrastructure, and this support will continue until 2015. The EU grants are largely used for development of international corridors, which play a key role in strengthening the competitiveness of these new member states. Since their accession to the EU in 2004, these countries enjoyed remarkable growth. While the countries underwent varying degrees of contractions in 2009, signs of recovery are showing albeit with considerable uncertainty in the future. Growth in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in recent years has been unsustainable and was driven by a disproportionate increase in the non-tradable sector (construction, financial intermediation, real estate). This has had negative implications for competitiveness. The global economic crisis in 2009 has ended Poland?s fast economic expansion over the recent years, but in contrast to its neighbors Poland has avoided a decline in economic activity. Over the medium term, growth in Poland is expected to accelerate steadily in line with an improving external environment. The Baltic States and Poland are relatively competitive in trade logistics and have initiated reforms to facilitate trade, compared to their eastern neighbors, particularly Russia. Despite the plunge in 2008, freight transport and logistics development in the region has potential to continue to grow in the medium-term as some signs of recovery have begun to appear. The current economic situation has triggered a significant overcapacity of transport and warehousing which is characterized by very low prices for these services. While Poland remains relatively stable, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are exhibiting higher vulnerability to external shocks. The most critical bottlenecks of transport logistics in the Baltic States and Poland are found in the deteriorating condition of their transport infrastructure, particularly that of road networks, lessdeveloped intermodal connections, and inefficiency of custom processing at border crossing points. Deteriorating road condition in these countries is largely due to inadequate maintenance and a comprehensive asset management system, albeit improving. Intermodal connections that are often inefficient are partly attributed to institutional arrangement that lacks inter-agency collaboration at the level of policy development and public investment. Custom procedures are particularly cumbersome and inefficient at the borders to non-EU member states. Nevertheless, the Baltic States and Poland have relative strengths in efficiency of domestic transport/logistics, cost-efficiency of trucking industry, and price-competitive port operation. The report various recommendations for strategic policy priorities for the Baltic States and Poland to leverage their own strengths to respond to various opportunities and challenges.
World Bank. 2010. Baltic States and Poland Trade Logistics Review: Enhancing Trade Competitiveness by Improving Transport and Logistics. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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