The situation with freight transit via Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia is in an extremely unpleasant condition called ‘the beginning of crisis’. It is like flue. A person knows that he has fallen ill, but keeps going to work and struggles to stay glad-hander. But it is already clear that it is necessary to brace for wage cut. It seems to get worse, since no medicine has been found yet.
In figures ‘the beginning of crisis’ looks like as follows: at Latvian ports for nine months of this year 45.9 million tons of freight were handled - by 12.9% less than for the relevant period of 2015.
The leader in terms of freight turnover for nine months was Freeport of Riga, which handled 26.8 million tons and which lost over the year ‘just’ 10.5%. Further goes Ventspils Harbour with freight turnover of 14.04 million tons (-20.5%) and Liepaja Port with 3.87 million tons (-2.3%).
Latvian railroad has little to boast either. Down the tracks over nine months of the current year 34.2 million tons of freight were carried – this is 19.6% less as compared to the analogous period of the last year.
Mostly the deteriorations are attributed to the gradual withdrawal of Russian freight. Moscow is planning to withdraw completely from transit services of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in favour of its own harbours in the Baltic. As a result, just over the last nine months the port of Ust-Luga improved indices by 5.35%, which makes up 68.5 million tons. In Russian Primorsk the growth made up 48.3 million tons, which is 10.5% more than in 2015.
Economy follows politics. A special representative of RF Sergey Ivanov at the meeting with the largest Russian carriers set a national task: all of the Russian freights handled at Baltic ports from 2020 must be reoriented to RF sea ports.
And earlier the president of a state-owned enterprise Transneft Nicolay Tokarev reported to the president of RF that reorientation of supplies of petroleum products from Baltic ports to own freight ports in Leningrad Oblast continues.
Against the background of the artificially created deficit of Russian freights between Tallinn, Klaipeda and Riga a desperate fight for transit from Belarus and China is being unfolded. In late September within the framework of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in New York Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgar Rinkevich met his Belarusian colleague Vladimir Makeev and asked to deepen cooperation with Belarus in the field of transport, transit and logistics.
The future of cooperation with China looks more hopeful than with Belarus. Here there is already the first swallow. In early November the first container train from a Chinese city Yiwu arrived at Riga.
But three train sets a day from Russia cannot be replaced by one train a month from China. Which, again, the larger part of its route moves on Russian railroads, thereby derailing hopes for Chinese traffic: if earlier Russia used to depend on Latvian transit, then now Latvia depends on Russian transit...