Klaipeda to benefit from Russian help

  • 2001-10-18
  • BNS
MOSCOW - Lithuanian and Russian officials may have reached agreement on a deal which should reduce tension over the transport of Russian exports through Lithuania. Under the new agreement, Lithuanian railways will no longer charge Russian exporters a higher rate for transporting goods to Russia's Kaliningrad enclave and, in return, Russia is expected to stop charging extra for goods bound for Lithuania's Klaipeda port, the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported on Oct. 15. The agreement means Klaipeda and Kaliningrad will both be able to draw business away from Latvian and Estonian ports, said the paper.

Previously, Lithuania charged nearly 10 percent more to transport goods from Russia to Kaliningrad than it did to transport goods to Klaipeda. Lithuania will equalise rates on Nov. 1 at a cost of $1 million per month. "Our initiative will take two months, and we hope for a return move from Russia," said Lithuanian Deputy Transportation Minister Valery Ponomarev.

Lithuania lowered the rates as part of the so called 2K (Kaliningrad-Klaipeda) project launched this May by representatives from the Russian and Lithuanian ports. Under the project the ports will end their rivaly and start joint efforts to attract more cargoes, with the support of the transportation ministries from both countries.

Currently the Baltic states are suffering from high international rates applied by Russia to cargoes being carried to foreign ports. As of Aug. 1, the high rates were abolished in respect to shipments taken to Russian ports, however. If special terms are applied to Klaipeda, the port will see increased cargo turnover. Rosmorflot representative Vladimir Berkov implied that Russia was willing to lower the rates for Lithuania."We are interested in seeing Klaipeda become a competitive port," he said.

In 2000 the Kaliningrad port reloaded 4.4 million tons, up by 20 percent year-on-year. Klaipeda port handled 19.3 million tons last year, a fall of 16 percent from 1999. Latvia's Ventspils port still holds the lead role in the region with 34.76 million tons handled in 2000.