road transport

Road Freight Continues To Drive European Trade

Positive Developments In Cross-Border Logistics

The future of road transportation is looking strong in Europe, with improved cross-border controls and the ‘silk road’ opening up to China.

3.7 million tonnes were exported from the UK by HGVs in 2017, and the number of goods vehicles travelling to mainland Europe has increased by 100,000 to 3.5 million in the same year. The road freight business is gaining strength in the European market, with key developments taking place to drive trade in the coming years.

Growth In Central And Eastern Europe

Europe makes up more than a quarter of the world’s economic market, and as such, the road network that connects its 51 nations are integral to trade logistics.  A number of factors are driving an increase in European road trade – a large amount of landlocked nations, rising disposable income in many countries and increasingly developed economies and urbanisation being just a few.

Central and Eastern Europe are witnessing significant growth in particular. For example, hauliers from this region are prominent in cross-border parcel logistics in Western European countries such as the Netherlands. Additionally, Macedonia represents in excess of 80% of eCommerce sales as purchases that were moved across the border last year.

An agreement signed in July 2018 will develop a cross-border bridge from Poland’s S19 highway to Slovakia’s new R4 infrastructure. As part of the Trans-European Network also known as Via Carpathia, this route will help to strengthen the economies of Lithuania, Greece and Hungary as well as the signing nations of Poland and Slovakia. Similarly, Belarus and Poland have also finalised an arrangement to enhance cross-border operations between their nations, with a particular focus on check points, borders and bridge maintenance.

Opening Up The East

Of course, one of the reasons that the future of European road freight is looking so promising, is the role of China in opening up a corridor from east to west. China’s belt and road initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious projects in human history, and it’s estimated that it will affect up to 60% of the world’s population. The ‘silk road’ connecting China to Asia, Africa and Europe is expected to completely transform global trade and will certainly open up gaps for suppliers using road freight companies to reach opportunities further afield.

Challenges Ahead

Respective governments and logistic companies will need to work together to ensure that a solid infrastructure is put in place to cope with the increasing demands of our European market. As well as simplifying cross-border movements to allow an unrestricted flow of goods across nations, it’s also essential to look at how to reduce CO2 emissions – which has been considered a drawback of opting for road freight. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed that 35% of our global CO2 emissions is produced by the transport sector. Governments must support the work of scientists to develop ‘technologically neutral’ fuels that allow the delivery of CO2 emissions to be reduced while ensuring that they’re cost-effective enough for logistics companies to be able to adopt them on a large scale.

The future looks bright for road freight – although the rail industry is also expanding, it is expected that the developments there will be based on increased transit of passengers rather than goods. So, road transportation will still dominate the economies of European countries, and beyond for the foreseeable future.

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