Russian and global logistics has encountered certain changes in 2023, including electronic document management, the higher cost of freight operations and additional requirements for transported items among the most critical developments. How will these changes affect the market?
First and foremost, digitalization in the transport industry continues, meaning that many processes will be based online. For example, back in September 2022, Russia launched a national system of electronic shipping documents for bills of lading, payment summaries and schedule orders. Starting March 2023, shipping companies and freight dispatchers will be able to register shipping manifests, contracts and freighting applications in the system. Currently, using electronic logistics documents is voluntary for shipping companies. The documents can still be managed on paper; however, in 2024, the government plans to make electronic document management mandatory for transport operations.
Also since this year, the paper format will be terminated for heavy-duty and oversize vehicle transit permits in Russia. The permits can only be registered online via a designated body of the Safe Road Use Monitoring Center (Rosdormonitoring) of the Federal Road Agency.
Changes will also affect excess load fines that will be issued only if the freight exceeds the norm by more than 10%. Drivers will be penalized only by officers of the Federal Service for Transport Oversight, although previously traffic police officers also had the authority to do it.
Another government initiative is to even out the cost of Russian freight and special-purpose vehicles by raising the recycling fee on foreign brands of vehicles. As a result, the recycling fee will increase for the trucks and special-purpose vehicles manufactured in Russia. For example, the recycling fee on dump trucks, new trailers and semi-trailers will grow by more than six times; operators of box trucks that have a gross vehicle weight of 20 to 50 metric tons will pay a 35% higher tax. For tractor heads, the recycling fee will remain unchanged.
The shift of focus to Asia, India and Turkey as Russia’s export and import markets will remain the main trend in Russian logistics. In addition, the country will simplify and streamline parallel imports, which are quite chaotic at the moment. This may create a new logistics market niche where businesses will carry out wholesale imports via friendly countries for subsequent resale of goods to small retailers. These goods will be more expensive, and that, in turn, should stimulate import substitution in most categories of imported goods, especially where replacements can be provided in the shortest possible time – clothing, agricultural products, cardboard and paper products, and dietary supplements.
A number of countries Russia used to cooperate with before the recent geopolitical changes are also introducing changes to their transport policies in 2023. Poland has upped the electronic tolls for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight over 3.5 tons on major highways and roads of military importance. In Germany, tariffs increased in all emission classes; for example, the operators of over-18-ton Euro 0/Euro 1-classed trucks will face a rise of 9.8 euro cents in their road tolls. In Spain, about 150 municipalities will be implementing low-emission zones within their borders in 2023. They will significantly restrict the movement of trucks of low environmental classes.
Overall, logistics in Russia will become about 15% more expensive in 2023 due to a 15-20% decrease in road freight traffic caused by the sanctions. The internal and external flows of goods will continue to transform. The only way to deliver goods to Russia’s southern and western regions now is by land due to the restrictions on air traffic. For example, shipments to the Kaliningrad Region have become more expensive because trucks have to cross by ferry from St. Petersburg to cut transit time and avoid customs delays in Lithuania and Poland, which sometimes adds as much as RUR 80K ($1.1K) to their transportation costs. Therefore, logistics costs will continue to increase in 2023, and the usual import and export flows will be further redirected. For example, instead of direct exchange between the Russian Federation and the EU countries, carriers will have to ship goods via third countries such as Turkey, Belarus, Kazakhstan and others.
By Alexei Tuzov, independent transport industry expert