Efforts to prepare for Russia’s plans to divert its cargoes from Baltic to its own ports should have been made put into practice since 2000. Reorientation to its own ports is part of Russia’s consequent policy. This is why hard work is being done to develop the transit potential and attract cargoes in other eastern countries, especially in preparation of the 16+1 summit.
Such an opinion was expressed by Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis in his interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV.
Last week, news was reported that Russian cargoes that are currently transshipped through Latvian ports will be redirected to Russian ports by 2020. Russia also plans to halt the exports of oil products through Baltic ports. When asked if Latvia should start preparing for major changes in its transit industry, considering Russia’s plans, Kucinskis said: «I could say harsher words in this regard, because preparations should have commenced as early as 2000. Russia’s realized reduction of cargo volumes transshipped through Baltic States is no surprise. It was consequent policy from their side – transition to Russian ports. This is exactly what they are doing now.»
The prime minister mentioned in this interview that ‘hard and tiring work is being carried out by Latvian officials, travelling to Belarus and Kazakhstan in order to establish cargo transit relations’. Hard work also continues in China’s context. «Results may not appear immediately. We can expect them in a couple of months. The first challenge, of course, is China. Then there is 16+1 summit. Whatever remains after the summit for Latvia will be our gain. I believe special transport projects and long-term contracts will be among them,» – added Kucinskis.
When asked what Latvia intends to offer at the summit, Kucinskis said: «The main emphasis is put on transit and railway services, as well as using the potential offered by our three ports. There are opportunities to create logistical centres and become a mediator in this field.»
Kucinskis noted that at the summit Latvia has to demonstrate how much the country is truly ready for cooperation.
At the mention of the news reported this spring about China’s decision to access the Baltic Sea only through Klaipeda port, Kucinskis said: «If our people travel to China and Latvia is not even considered there… Considering how close the summit is now, perhaps it is the primary task Latvia has performed with China. There is no time to sit around and wait until the superpower comes and offers something. Lithuanians are also active in this regard. Sometimes we act like good neighbours, but business is business. If you want to develop, you have to fight. You can’t just sit there, waiting and commenting on the situation.»
When asked if Latvia can hope to prepare for the summit accordingly, Kucinskis promised that the unified transit offer will definitely be ready by then. «There will also be a unified offer for the use of our country’s airport potential in the field of logistics. The tariff is not nearly as important as putting forth a sustainable offer for cooperation partners and other sides.»