Latvia’s transit industry is in need of new destinations – New Silk Road, Asia, China, Belarus, Germany, Western Europe and Scandinavia. The organization of the country’s transit sector have to change radically, as well as find new approaches, believes economist Uldis Osis.
«Lithuanians are much more active than we are in the transit industry. But I cannot say we are entirely passive. Many initiatives are in the process of realization. Completely new companies have been founded. This includes LDZ Logistika, whose main priority will be looking for cargoes and developing the package of transit services,» – the economist told LTV’s Rīta panorama programme.
When asked why Latvia is behind Lithuania in the transit field, Osis said «it is an old problem – inability to make decisions because of the lack of will to accept radical changes. We [Latvians] are not prone to cooperate with one another or others. But it is clear that nothing can be accomplished without a team.»
When asked if Latvia risks ending up outside the New Silk Road, the economist emphasized that «everything depends on our actions and decisions, activity, initiative and energy. We might be included and my might be left out. It is not too late, but it is the last moment to act.»
«First of all, it is necessary for politicians and professionals to offer a way out. They are currently in the process of doing just that. We will wait and see what happens next,» – said the economist.
When asked if Latvia is even ready to develop its national economy after 2020 and if there are any risks of it sinking in a deep crisis if no alternatives are found, the economist said that «the way things are done in Latvia is that – we do not usually start thinking about solutions until we drown in some problem up to our noses. Once we feel our backs pushed firmly against the wall, only then do we start thinking and acting. I don’t believe anything significant will happen before 2020.»
As it is known, Russia plans to halt transits of its cargoes through Latvian ports starting from 2018.
President of Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics, Inga 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.
Sandra Sondore, advisor to Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, also noted 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.