Latvia’s goal is to remain the Baltic leader by port cargo turnover, Transport Minister Talis Linkaits (New Conservative Party, JKP) told journalists Thursday.
The minister indicated that the Latvian ports reloaded 62.379 million tons of cargo in 2019, which is more than in the two other Baltic states. “Latvia is still the leader in terms of cargo. Our goal and ambition is to keep that position,” the transport minister said.
Linkaits said that historically, Latvian ports have been handling cargo from Russia but that Russia is now diverting cargo to its own ports. “We have been preparing for that, and this is not something characteristic of this year alone. Our goal is adapt to this transit and transportation chain, so that the Latvian transit corridor remained attractive to the forwarders and recipients of cargo,” Linkaits said.
The minister said he had a meeting with representatives of Latvia’s large ports to discuss future plans. “There is confidence that cargo volumes will be approximately as large as planned. So there is and will be work to do at the ports,” Linkaits said.
The minister admitted that the events of the past month when the government took control over the freeports of Riga and Ventspils have prompted certain questions from the entrepreneurs doing business in the ports’ territory. “It is in our interests that entrepreneurs are not affected by the changes and that the ports continue to operate, develop and prosper,” Linkaits said.
The cargo turnover of all three large Latvian ports is still high enough, Linkaits said. “Due to the market situation, we see some groups of cargo reducing because of objective reasons, for instance, coal trade is no longer that profitable because of the price.”
As reported, Latvian ports’ cargo turnover last year amounted to 62.379 million tons, which is 5.7 percent less than in 2018, according to the Transport Ministry’s data.
The Freeport of Riga handled 32.762 million tons of cargo in 2019, a decrease of 10.1 percent on 2018. Ventspils Port’s cargo turnover amounted to 20.457 million tons (0.6 percent increase), and Liepaja Port’s turnover declined 2.7 percent on year to 7.334 million tons.