«The current situation in Latvia’s transit industry is dramatic, especially considering that this industry is the second largest in the country and earns the economy a billion euros. Officials claim something is being done, that tariffs are being prepared. But no one has told us that anyone intends to create a single offer for all and provide a more competitive tariff,» – notes President of Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics Inga Antane.
«We need a new LDz infrastructure development plan, but there is no document that would help us understand what is important and how we should develop further. We need a single offer to be compiled before the Chinese summit, which will be taking place from 4th to 7th November. During this summit, Latvia will be visited by the prime minister of the world’s largest economy. It is now the second half of September. I have yet to see any offers be put up for review. It is impossible to come up with such an offer without the involvement of businessmen and stevedores. Even if there is such an offer, we have yet to see and discuss it. November is the last chance we will have to present it,» – Antane said in an interview to Rīta panorama programme.
«It is hard for me to comment why we haven’t sat down with officials behind one table – I have personally petitioned to provide assistance on behalf of the association to write, study and put together a road from A to B. Up until now officials have likely considered it their responsibility. Nevertheless, their homework has a deadline, and it was yesterday. If the offer does not include a price list for stevedores, it means it is not the final offer, and we have no way of telling the Chinese how much their services will cost in Ventspils and Scandinavia. No one has asked us this so far and it is because of that there are serious concerns,» – added Antane.
According to her, ‘one of the most serious cases and the harshest lesson for everyone and Latvia’s economy is the Kālija parks case. It is the large specialized terminal at Ventspils Freeport. It currently transships very little even though its capacity is 7.5 million tons a year. Because of destructive political processes and hesitation with decision-making processes, we are unable to prepare appropriate offers for cargo owners. Kālija parks lost cargoes in 1999, when it was actions of officials that resulted in our inability to offer Belarusians, who wanted to send cargoes through Kālija parks, any flexible and competitive tariffs. Those cargoes are now transshipped through Klaipeda, which had reacted appropriately and offered good options for Belarusians, who built a terminal there. Now Klaipeda handles ten million tons of mineral fertilizers a year. This means Latvia has lost hundreds of million euros that could have otherwise gone through Kālija parks. Even in relation to metallurgy cargoes Lithuania had reacted well and had offered a specific cargo owner lower tariffs. This resulted in metallurgy cargoes leaving Latvia in 2004. The problem at the time was that we failed to react to market demand with an appropriate tariff offer. This problem persists to this day. I believe there are multiple reasons for that, including lack of competence, hesitation with decision-making processes and continuing destructive processes. Kālija parks’ case clearly shows what we have come to and what we can expect in the future if we fail to react to change in demand again. 1999 marked a decrease in Belarusian cargoes transshipped through Kālija parks. This is something we cannot recover. We have lost Belarusian cargoes for good.’
«Cargo declines are noticed not only in Ventspils Freeport, but also at Riga Freeport and LDz. It is a complex problem that is characteristic for the whole of Latvia. The problem is that we have not been able to sit down, discuss the situation, set up deadlines for our homework and prepare for November, when Latvia will be visited by the prime minister of the world’s largest economy,» – Antane concluded.
In her interview to LTV 7, Antane emphasized that Latvia has a very well-developed infrastructure, railway and three large ports, which means Latvia can handle large cargoes. Nevertheless, Latvia has to think about more competitive tariffs, which are not competitive at the moment and prevent Latvia to react to market demand change.