Poland: uncertainty overshadows positive mood

30 Oct 2020 00:00 Economy

The latest figures indicate that Poland's economic situation has improved significantly since spring: Industrial production rose by 5.9 percent in September and consumption for the entire third quarter remains above the previous year's level. The maritime sector is also reporting good results: For the first time since January of this year, total container handling in all seaports increased year-on-year to around 260,000 TEUs.

The export of container cargo (e.g. timber from the Czech Republic and South-East Germany) has been strong since the middle of the year, which contributed to the good handling results of the container terminals in Gdynia and Szczecin. Intra-European traffic, especially towards the UK, also developed very well in the 3rd quarter. A new development is that imports have also become significantly more extensive in recent weeks, which was reflected particularly strongly in the handling figures for Gdansk. Gdansk, Poland's largest port, is strongly influenced by cargo traffic from Far East. Overall, container traffic in Polish ports increased by 2.5 percent in September: by just under 2 percent in Gdansk and over 5 percent in Gdynia. Intermodal traffic is growing at double-digit rates (+17 percent year-on-year in tonnes), mainly due to rail traffic from China, but further growth could be slowed down by infrastructural bottlenecks.

The rising number of infections in autumn is currently having a limited impact on the performance of the Polish economy. Declines in consumption and production as well as in foreign trade cannot be ruled out, but the latest development indicates that the economy will not be hit as hard as in spring. Nevertheless, there is a great uncertainty regarding future developments, which affects all sectors.

Marek Tarczynski, Chairman of the Chamber of Polish Freight Forwarding and Logistics, says that "the statistical decline of container transport by about 8 percent in 2020 covers many different developments: from the collapse of the furniture or automotive industry to stable food sales". Tarczynski explains: "The pandemic has hit Gdansk, which is dependent on trade with China, hard, although terminals in Gdynia and Szczecin, which serve other routes due to feeder ships, are coping better with it. The decline in imports was mitigated by efforts of exporters served by these ports. However, blank sails and volatile cargos are worrying. Just-in-time deliveries have become a theory. Because of uncertain deliveries, importers have filled their logistics warehouses, which puts pressure on distribution. Silk road transports have doubled at the expense of air and sea freight. The growing uncertainty caused by the autumn pandemic wave is displacing the improved mood that has been in evidence since September".

Poland: uncertainty overshadows positive mood