TALLINN - At a meeting on the island of Saaremaa, the Baltic countries said they would jointly address the European Commission on the problem of Russia's discriminatory rail tariffs.
The transport ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia resolved to forward a joint letter to the EU executive in an effort to get Europe to put pressure on their Eastern neighbor, who hasn't denied the use of a discriminatory tariff system to boost its own Baltic ports.
In certain cases, Russia's tariffs applied to Baltic bound cargo are two 's three times higher than those to the country's analogous ports.
As result, cargo handling at Russia's Baltic Sea-based ports 's St. Petersburg, Primorsk and Kaliningrad 's grew by a phenomenal 18.3 million tons in the first half of the year, while throughput at Baltic ports grew by all of 600,000 tons for the same period.
To combat the discrimination, Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithu-anian Railways), raised tariffs for shipments of crude, petroleum products and ferrous metals from Russia to the Kaliningrad exclave by an average of 15 percent on Sept. 2.
However, the tariffs are still below the rates imposed by Russia on Lithuanian freight.
The port of Klaipeda, Lithuania's only general cargo port, has seen a sharp decline in cargo due to Russia's tariff policy. For example, shipments of Russian freight by rail to the port comprised a paltry 460,000 tons in the first half of 2004, a nearly 50 percent decline from the first half of 2003.
Lithuanian Railways also boosted the tariffs for transit cargo from Russia to Kaliningrad by 11 percent in mid-February.