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Eastern Europe

After a brief truce, border blockages affecting trucks leaving Ukraine for Poland have returned stronger than ever. Many transport companies report that booking a time slot for crossing the border is taking up to three or four weeks. Therefore, Ukrainian exporters are forced to look at Romania as an alternative transport route.

Poland’s industrial production grew 1.6% year on year in January and by 2.3% on a monthly basis. The new car market is growing: in February, both passenger car and delivery vehicle segments recorded year-on-year sales growth, but the electric vehicle share is still well behind expected levels.

Despite the growth numbers, business sentiment remains negative. Numerous strikes have taken place in February and March, notably the massive protests by the agricultural sector which blocked all major highways and cities.

The metal market in Russia slowed down ahead of the presidential elections on March 15-17. Although the result is predictable, market participants expect a shift in the rouble/US dollar rate shortly afterwards. Coupled with the end of winter, this is expected to improve scrap availability, especially for exporters. Scrap inflows in February were extremely weak, pushing prices higher.