Representatives of the Belarusian Ministry of Forestry have visited the Port of Riga to discuss ways of enhancing the export of the country’s timber through the Baltic port. They believe improved cooperation could unlock significant traffic potential, which officials at the Port of Riga are extremely interested in targeting.
The timber trade in the port is already rapidly growing. Turnover grew by 34.5% last year to reach 5.5 million tonnes. It is now the second most important commodity in the port behind coal exports.
Around 7% of existing flows of timber are sourced from Belarus, although this percentage is growing annually and is far from reaching a ceiling.
“Our cooperation has a great potential. We have many ways to boost our volumes and seek different kinds of cooperation,” said Belarusian Deputy Minister of Forestry Vladimir Krech.
The Belarusian timber industry is exploring the optimum routes for its products to access markets in Scandinavia and Western Europe.
One of the suggestions put forward by the Belarusians is that of taking a potential equity stake in existing port operators. This would allow them to partially control tariffs and eliminate intermediaries in the logistics chain. In compensation, incumbent Latvian investors would get guaranteed cargo volumes.
“This model ...is already working in a number of ports. If a model works and brings good results, it’s a good idea to take it as a basis to use elsewhere, stated Krech.
Ansis Zeltinš, CEO of the Freeport of Riga Authority, says that this proposal is definitely worth discussing.
“There are many companies in the Freeport of Riga working with timber. These are both terminals transferring timber cargoes and companies involved in timber processing, packaging, sorting and loading into containers. I think that this model of cooperation can be promising and mutually beneficial and will boost our cargo flow,” he said.