Riga's port lines up with Ventspils and Liepaja

  • 2000-04-13
  • Valters Medenis
RIGA - The Latvian Parliament has passed legislation on the entire territory of Riga's port being economically sanctioned as a free port. March 13, Parliament decreed that Riga's port will have the same approved tax discounts that are currently in place at Liepaja and Ventspils.

"Riga will have the same equal footing and competitiveness that Liepaja and Ventspils have. Businesses in Riga will enjoy the same tax discounts in freight charges passing through our port," said Haralds Apogs, spokesman from Riga's Port Authority.

At the moment, Riga's Commercial Port is the only area in Riga that benefits from tax discounts. The law that will be enacted by the President of Latvia this week will give Riga's port a tax status smilar to that at the port of Ventspils.

Liepaja's port is in an economic free zone which applies to its surrounding region.

Andris Berzins, Riga's City Council mayor and chairman of the Riga Port Authority board, said the port's competitiveness will increase and the contracts signed concerning tax discounts at Riga's port will improve the infrastructure at the port.

The tax benefits will decrease import/export tax, customs tax, freight duties and property tax paid by businesses. Apogs said the free port in Riga will not take away business from the other two major ports in Latvia, but only increase the usage of the port in Riga and spur business growth.

"Riga's port businesses will be the ones that will benefit from the tax breaks the free port will provide," said Apogs. "A major benefit of a free port will be the ability to expand in dealing with transit freight. This will be a growth area in the future of the port."

The Parliament approved a bill signed by the Latvian president, but will take 30 days before it becomes legislation and six months has been given for the renewal of existing premises and redevelopment of the port's real estate. Riga's port property occupies 3,000 hectares of land on the river Daugava and Riga's Commercial Port Authority has the job at hand to manage the port but first of all to modernize it.

Apogs said that Liepaja's port is in a development stage whereas Riga's port needs to be reconstructed and rejuvenated. The job at hand is to develop the port into a large functional port that can provide services to businesses of a high standard. This means that new customs control offices, warehouses and storage areas need to be erected. Ship loading and docking areas will also need to be planned for and built.

In the six months that have been allocated to begin the project, a strategy to achieve the goals has to be put in place concerning future business involvement and redevelopment of properties in Riga's port region. These strategies need to involve business interests to make use of the port. Marketing strategies will need to offer import/export companies a port that will be of benefit to their business.

According to all involved in the project, it is an opportunity to put Riga on the world map as a capital city with a good operating port system in place. More business injected into Riga's economy is only a good thing, said Apogs.