Freights with added value represent the future for Latvian ports, as both ports and the state would benefit from them, says board chairman of Liepaja Special Economic Zone (SEZ)-based company Terrabalt, Liepaja Port Tenants Association representative Aris Ozolins.
He said the decline of coal freights was enormous at Latvian ports. However, looking at it from a long-term perspective, it will not be a major loss for the state.
“First of all – coal is harmful to the environment and climate. Secondly – coal freights have low added value. It is clear coal freights used to be in large volumes, but if it becomes possible to replace them with freights that offer greater added value, such as container freights, the situation would improve a lot. For example, we in Liepaja work with UPB and we carry reinforced concrete structures. While it is possible to move coal freights relatively quickly and in large volumes, these freights require time, because they need to be placed like Lego, and reinforced concrete can be rather fragile when being transported,” says Ozolins.
The representative of Liepaja Port Tenants Association admits there is Russian influence over ports, but Latvia’s neighboring country develops its own ports.
“However, if there are no geopolitical decisions made on a full veto, there will still be project freights to and from Russia. Logistics are dictated by costs as well, after all. Liepaja, Ventspils and Riga are all located in very good geographical locations connecting Europe with CIS member states,” says Ozolins.
He said he was optimistic about the future. At the same time, however, he remains negative about the potential port reform in Latvia.
As for attraction of foreign investments, Ozolins says one major advantage Liepaja has is its Special Economic Zone – it allows the port to attract more investors and manufacturing companies.
“But we still have to do our homework in relation to infrastructure organization and creation of a beneficial environment. Liepaja SEZ administration is working on just that. We have formed a good working relationship with Investment and Development Agency of Latvia and other institutions. I don’t want to reveal my hand just yet, but we have some rather serious companies that might enter Latvia’s market in the near future,” explains the representative of Liepaja Port Tenants Association. (BNN/Business World Magazine)