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Antāne: lost Russian cargoes have cost Latvia nearly 50 million in nine months

Inga Antāne/publicity photo.
Latvia’s economy has lost nearly EUR 50 million in nine months because of missed Russian transit cargoes. While Russian Railway had approved 90% of oil and coal cargoes for transit through Ventspils port at the beginning of the year, this amount had declined to a mere 5% by September, says Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics President Inga Antāne.

I should be said that BATL has spent the last couple of years asking Transport Ministry and the government to act in order to reduce risks for the economy and employment created by Russian government’s strategic decision to divert cargoes to its own ports. It should be added that transit is the second largest sector of Latvia’s national economy.

BATL President comments: «Day to day statistics are becoming more and more grim and only serves to emphasize the true changes in the transit sector. In the current situation the one to make quick and strategically sound decisions is the winner. The first piece of homework is improving Latvia’s competitiveness. This means dropping the plan to increase railway infrastructure fees next year, which would make Latvia a leader among EU member states in terms of size of railway fees.»

She continues: «If we cannot reach a compromise with Russia for preservation of transit volumes, we have to do all we can to make Latvia’s transit sector, including railway, more attractive to other regions. Unfortunately, our cooperation with Belarus and other countries points out just how non-competitive we are in this area.»

According to information compiled by BATL, September’s cargo turnover at Latvia’s three major ports was 4.5 million tonnes, which is 16% less than September 2014.

As for coal volumes transshipped along the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea (Russia and Latvia) in the nine months of 2017, it can be concluded that volumes have grown, reaching 43 million tonnes. But his increase was largely an accomplishment of Russian, not Latvian ports. The increase of coal cargoes transshipped by Russian ports reaches 60% in the nine months of 2017 when compared with the same period of 2014. Latvian ports, on the other hand, have suffered a decline of approximately 10% when it comes to coal cargoes, according to data compiled by BATL.

It should be said that BATL sent a letter to the prime minister, transport minister, economy minister, finance minister and Latvijas dzelzceļš council this September, asking them to come up with a plan to make Latvia more attractive for transit.


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