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Sunday 28.05.2017 | Name days: Vilhelms, Vilis
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Antane: we have to act fast to prevent our transit industry from falling behind other countries

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUEurope has major plans in relation to port development – it is planned to increase cargo volumes by one and a half times and create 160,000 new jobs by 2030. We have to act fast to make sure our transit industry does not fall into second speed countries group, says president of Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics Inga Antane.

In her interview to Latvijas Avīze, Antane mentioned what she had said during the 16+1 summit in Riga: «There is no point in bringing a train from 11,000 km away, showing it and then sending to Belarus. We have to think about cargoes to send back with it. We have plenty – we have wealthy neighbours that manufacture products with high added value.»

Antane is certain that work will have positive results if Latvia manages to secure economically justified, efficient, safe and reasonable road for cargoes. «Investors have told us many times that they are open for cooperation because we work well with their products. These products include coal. On top of that, their cargoes aren’t lost, as it tends to happen in ports not located in Baltic States. Russian investors are interested in investments into stable environment. Unfortunately, formation of a unified transport corridor is not one of Latvia’s priorities. I hope Prof. Igor Kabashkin, who has been invited to participate in development of this map, can help. But he is not a minister in charge of making decisions…»

When asked how ministers Anrijs Matiss and Uldis Augulis have helped create a unified transit offer, Antane said that in 2015, when Ventspils suffered a massive cargo turnover decline, BATL submitted research about raising competitiveness of Latvian ports to Transport Ministry, recommending, among other things, to equalize tariffs among Latvia’s ports. Anrijs Matiss, then the Transport Minister, organized a work group to search for solutions. «The minister was replaced, and this work group was never gathered again. The new minister, Uldis Augulins, does agree that railway tariffs should be reviewed. I only knock on the minister’s door and ask: how much longer? When I’m no longer heard, I simply knock on the media’s door.»

BATL president is certain that Latvia has to take on all cargoes to maintain sufficient transit flow. «For example, coal. This cargo type directly affects our country’s national economy. Baltic Express is a great example of that. It is steadily going for a record this year – 10 million carried tonnes. Now that the company has carried more coal cargoes attracted by stevedores, the company has successfully created 40 new jobs. The company has increased wages to its employees and young specialists have come to work. Noord Nattie has also increased the volume of iron ore concentrates, metal scrap, colza seeds and other cargoes. Transit has enormous economic returns. Latvia has to make it a priority for its national economy.»

Antane notes that Latvia is among European member states that borrow the least money for investments in transports. «This was told to us by European Investment Bank’s transport industry expert Vigo Legzdins in Luxembourg one month ago. Those are cheap resources we could use to develop long-term projects at low interest rates. EIB offers to finance transport projects. Our roads are in poor shape, cargo transports via roads are cheaper than railway, and I have heard of investors that avoid Latvia because of those reasons. We are losing cargoes, the economy is drying out. We have to be more flexible in attraction of loans. We have to use all advantages offered by Juncker’s plan,» Antane said.

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