RIGA - Eastern European seaports will have to soon start looking elsewhere for business, writes news agency LETA. Due to this economic crisis, the container cargo market has substantially declined, while transport of oil products and coal has been at the heart of heated competition for ships in Russia and the Eastern European region.
"The flow of traffic is centered mostly through the northern Baltic route coming out of Russia and Belarus, however, the situation around the eastern Baltic sea is very uneven," explain BMT Transport Solutions regional specialists Wolfram Schaefer and Tobias Merten.
While Finnish box freight terminals are suffering from Russia's drop in demand, Baltic ports have been generally less affected because container volumes have been relatively low for years already.
Riga Port and Ventspils Port are among those bolstered by Russia's present need to keep pumping out oil, coal and gas exports, while Latvian ports in general gain from landlocked Belarus' need to export its riches.
Driven by the need for strategic planning, Riga commissioned a study from BMT which may provide an accurate forecast for the industry. It shows that commercial shipping movements are due for a large bounce in trade in the area, encouraging Riga to keep its faith in expansion plans.
A note of caution is warranted, says Schaefer, because "Russia is steadily expanding ahead of the game its box capacity in St. Petersburg, and oil facilities in Primorsk being just two examples."
Given its political hold over transport, it may be that in four or five years' time we will begin to see more Russian exports and container imports being directed through Russian ports, to the exclusion of the others."