RIGA - Russia's state-run railway company has refused to announce a date when the country might harmonize fees for domestically transported rail cargoes and cargoes that are shipped to ports in foreign countries, primarily the Baltic states.
Meeting with Baltic journalists in Moscow, Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin indicated that the process of rail tariff harmonization is closely tied to Russia's aspirations to join the World Trade Organization. Before it can join the WTO, Russia must bring its rail tariffs into uniformity.
Although there are plans to end the discriminatory rail cargo tariffs by 2009, Yakunin was cautious about deadlines. "This is one of the most difficult WTO requirements. But, despite that, the process of tariff harmonization has been continuing for three years," said the railroad chief, declining though to predict when the process might be completed. He reiterated that the Russian government determines tariff policies.
"I suppose the question of when Russia will be admitted to the WTO is not unimportant in this situation," Yakunin added.
He did say, however, that tariffs on cargoes shipped through Russia to foreign ports have remained unchanged since 2004, while tariffs on rail cargoes that are shipped to Russian ports have been raised by 48.3 percent in the last three years.
Ugis Magonis, head of Latvijas Dzelzcels (Latvian Railway), said earlier that the Russian policy on railway tariffs might change only after the country is admitted to the WTO.
For some categories of cargoes, tariffs are 1.5 's 2.7 times lower when these cargoes are transported to Russian ports that the tariffs that would be imposed if these cargoes were shipped to Latvia. The issue has been raised repeatedly at talks of various levels.