Concerned about multiple destructive processes, decisions and the common lack of unified offers in Latvia, Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics has turned to the country’s high-rank officials, ministers, mayors of Riga, Liepaja and Ventspils, managers of the country’s largest ports, and the government’s social partners and foreign investors with a call to immediately gather at a conference table to develop a competitive and modern offer for cargo transit through Latvia and its ports.
BATL reminds that transit has been historically the second largest and most important sector of Latvia’s national economy after woodworking and forestry, which bring the economy revenue worth more than one billion euros every year.
«At the same time, transit has been experiencing a major decline for cargo turnover. In addition, this trend gradually increases. Starting from 2013, we have been noticing a decline of 5-7% in cargo turnover every year. The turnover of Latvian ports has declined by 13.7% in the first seven months of 2016. This means Latvia’s economy has missed at least EUR 180 million. Meanwhile other ports of the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea experience an increase in cargo turnover. This means the cargo flow remains very intensive in this direction,» – explains BATL President Inga Antane.
BATL urges the government to pay attention to the changes that are taking place in the world’s transport industry. China has announced ambitious plans. This country is searching for the best possible route to Europe in order to create the New Silk Way. Western countries are looking for the most beneficial and effective transit roads to carry cargoes to the east.
«At the moment, when major and conceptual changes are being experienced in the world’s transit roads, Latvia, as a transit country, is put at a crossroads. It is highly important for our country to retain its status as a transit country and remain able to create and secure the most beneficial and competitive offers to ensure global transit roads go through Latvia. Now is the tome to develop attractive and unified offers for cargo inflow to Latvian ports. In addition, it is highly important to understand that Latvian ports should not compete with one another. They have to become more competitive in relation to other Baltic Sea ports,» – says Antane.
According to her, it is especially important to create a unified offer because the 16+1 summit will be held in Riga in November. It is known that all European countries provide offers to ensure the New Silk Way goes through their territories. The opportunity to provide competitive and beneficial offers to secure more cargo flow through Latvia is in the country’s hands.
«One of our biggest challenges is the ability offer unified, competitive tariffs for cargo transports using Latvia’s railway and connectivity with the largest Latvian ports. It is vital that our cooperation partners abroad view our country as a single transit corridor. This is why they also expect single and clear cargo transport conditions, regardless of the chosen port,» – says the head of the association.
This is why BATL urges Latvian officials who have direct or indirect influence over Latvia’s transit industry to sit down and discuss the most beneficial solution for all involved sides.
«We hope that all responsible and interested sides will sit down for a constructive dialogue soon to develop a good offer. If we do not do this together, Latvia may disappear from the world trade map as a transit country,» – warns the BATL president.
«The situation in the transit industry directly affects our country’s ability to find additional finances in the budget for healthcare, education, law enforcement and other immediate needs,» – says Antane.