World Economy

Refugees Clog East Europe Trade Routes

Refugees Clog East Europe Trade RoutesRefugees Clog East Europe Trade Routes

Border closures and tighter controls caused by record numbers of refugees are clogging up trade in southeast and central Europe, driving up costs and forcing transport companies to seek other routes, Reuters reported. Freight traffic through Serbia was severely disrupted when Hungary and Croatia closed their borders last month to cope with tens of thousands of migrants, most bound for richer nations further north. The clampdown hit not just Serbian and Croatian trucks but also cargo in transit from other countries to the south, including Macedonia, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. Complicated customs procedures due to the fact that Serbia is still outside the EU are further delaying transit through the country, where transport accounts for 15% the economy and employs more than 11% of the workforce. The crisis has also spilled over into the border-free Schengen Zone, where Germany, Austria and Slovenia have imposed temporary border controls due to the migrant influx. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said Hungary, a transport hub where logistics accounts for 6% of GDP, could lose billions of euros if Schengen, a cornerstone of European integration, were to crumble.