The export of goods from Ukraine to the EU and from the EU to Ukraine has increased by more than 40% since the liberalization of transit rules for Ukrainian truckers in June 2022, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Dec. 18.
Before Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukrainian truckers had to apply for permits to enter the EU, adding an extra step to the process. The need for permits was temporarily suspended in June 2022 as part of the EU's Solidarity Lanes Initiative to help alleviate pressure on Ukraine's export industry caused by Russia's blockade of the Black Sea.
The temporary suspension was extended until June 2024.
Since the suspension, Kubrakov said that exports to the EU from Ukraine have increased by 47.5%, and imports to Ukraine have grown by 44%.
The permit issue has been at the heart of the ongoing protest and blockade by Polish truckers, who have at times been joined by their counterparts in Slovakia and Hungary.
Polish truckers say the suspension of the permit system has caused a massive influx of Ukrainian goods to the EU, which Kubrakov's figures support. Representatives of Polish and Slovak truckers also say that the transport of goods is undercutting business in their respective countries, which Ukrainian officials deny.
In peacetime, the majority of Ukraine's exports left through the Black Sea, but with the Russian blockade and subsequent collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, exports had to be redirected overland.
Recently elected Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has pledged to resolve the border blockade, but both the EU and Ukraine have so far found the withdrawal of the permit system to be an unacceptable concession.
Negotiations on the blockade have yet to produce a resolution.
The Polish farmers association United Village announced on Dec. 18 that they would join the protesters at the Yahodyn-Dorohusk crossing between Ukraine and Poland.