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Transit industry: this is the golden moment to decide the future of Latvia’s national economy

Inga Antane/mixnews.lv.
Although Latvian Association of Ports CEO Karlis Leiskalns praises the work of Riga Freeport, where he works as well, advisor to Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sandra Sondore and president of Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics Inga Antane emphasize the importance of all three of Latvia’s biggest ports for the growth of Latvia’s national Economy.

In his interview to Krustpunktā programme of Latvijas Radio, Leiskalns emphasized that plans associated with Russia’s policy and its decision to redirect cargoes to its own ports, as well as the effect it may have on Latvia’s national economy, had been known at the end of the 90s. At the same time, however, he presented no proposals to help resolve the lasting problems in Latvia’s transit industry. He did mention multiple times during this interview that the situation at Riga Freeport is fine, and that the 10% decline in transshipped cargoes had been planned in advance.

When asked by journalist Arnis Krauze if the people in charge of Riga Freeport, who had predicted everything so well, had also predicted the major declines in their wages, Leiskalns replied that he is not the one making decisions and he is not interested in them.

A different opinion in regards to the importance of the three largest ports in Latvia and their significance for Latvia’s national economy was expressed by Sandra Sondore, advisor to Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, and Inga Antane, president of Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics.

Antane emphasized that unlike Lithuania and Estonia, there are three large ports in Latvia, and all three of them cannot be ignored. This is because they have a direct influence on all sectors of Latvia’s national economy. She added that it is vital to establish a clear and unified tariff for all three ports to have an effect on Latvia’s competitiveness in the world, not continue mutual competition among those ports in Latvia.

Lithuania and Belarus have successfully achieved growth for their ports. Latvia, on the other hand, has difficulties with coming up with a single development strategy for its ports to enhance Latvia’s attractiveness on a global scale. Instead, Latvian ports merely compete with one another.

«Latvia does not have one port. Major investments have been put into Ventpils and Liepaja ports. Cargo volumes continue to decline. Even if everything is alright in Riga, it does not mean the national economy does not suffer,» – notes Inga Antane.

Sondore also notes that talks about a common strategy are especially important in the time when the 16+1 summit is drawing closer and closer. The summit is not only one of the biggest breakthroughs for Latvia’s economy, but also one of our country’s biggest hopes.

«And now when China and Russia both have to choose about investments in the New Silk Road and where these investments will go, which railway routes will carry cargoes and which transit corridors will be used for cargoes to and from Europe, you have to agree – it is a golden opportunity. The road could end in Klaipeda, Tallinn, Poland or Germany. There will be a big fight for the destination. […] I’m sorry, but everything will be decided by our ability to react to this situation,» – Sondore said.

Antane adds: «This is why an open letter has been written – representatives of the industry – us, the ones who handle cargoes and who should be prepared – are kept in the dark. And it is pathetic».

BNN 
25-09-2016
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