A long-term crisis is predicted for the Latvian transit corridor due to the lack of cargo from Russia

Freight transport through Latvia continues to decline without transit of goods from Russia and Belarus.

The Latvian transit corridor has been forecasted to face a prolonged crisis without goods from Russia. The Latvian transit corridor is designed for more than 80 million tons of cargo per year, however, last year the cargo turnover of ports dropped to 38 million tons and continues to decrease, according to the Latvian public media portal LSM.

In the first 4 months of 2024, only 12 million tons of cargo were handled in Latvian ports – 12% less than the same period last year.

The advisor to the Minister of Transport, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Logistics Association Normunds Krumins pointed out that “already in 2004, our big neighbor (Russia) decided that Latvian ports are not needed for them”, while the board member of the Latvian Stevedore Association Janis Kasalis linked the decline in freight transport in ports to the reduction of coal transit and Europe’s policy moving away from this type of fuel.

Market participants believe that partially Russian transit can be replaced with cargo from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian countries.

Only Kazakhstan exports about 200 million tons of cargo annually through Russia and China, and Latvia needs at least “millions of ten” from this, as noted in the publication.

The 19.6% drop in cargo turnover in Latvia’s ports last year was attributed by the country’s authorities to changes in the geopolitical situation and anti-Russian sanctions.

A decrease in transshipment volumes is also observed this year: in the terminals of the Ventspils port, cargo handling decreased by 25.2% in the first three months of 2024.

Significant decrease in the transportation of Russian goods is also noted on Latvia’s railways: from 50 million tons in 2015 to 15 million tons in 2023. Additionally, Latvia introduced a ban on the import of agricultural products – grain, feed, and vegetables from Russia at the end of February.