Officials mull Ukraine's grain export through Latvia

New export routes are being sought for Ukrainian grain, including through Latvian ports. However, in order for such a solidarity corridor to become operational, the Baltic states and Poland must do thorough homework, Latvian Television reported July 31.

Over the last half-year around 40 thousand tonnes of agricultural production have been exported through Rīga port. Officials hope that in the near future these volumes will be counted in in not thousands but millions of tonnes.

The possibility of increasing Ukraine's transit volumes on Monday, July 31, was discussed by the President of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs and Agriculture Minister Didzis Šmits (United List).

“Latvia has both a desire and an opportunity to support Ukraine in setting up alternative grain export routes,” the president said after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Jānis Vitenbergs (National Alliance) discussed the same issue in more detail with Ukraine's ambassador to Latvia Anatoly Kucevol.

"Due to recent developments with the Black Sea Corridor, where Ukraine's ability to export grain has essentially stopped, we see that Latvia with its three big ports as well as the Lithuanians with the port of Klaipeda, are ready to help. The volume we could offer is now 15 million tonnes in the three big ports. With the possibility of increasing this volume very rapidly," the Minister said.

“We are currently talking to both the Baltic States and Poland, as well as the European Commission on extending the “solidarity corridor” to allow Ukrainian exports of products, while also promoting imports to Ukraine through these same corridors in the future,” said Ukraine's ambassador to Latvia. “For us, no trade with Russia and Belarus is likely to last decades to come. Therefore, new roads need to be developed and you have good prospects in this regard to generate additional income in three Latvian seaports, which would accordingly pay higher taxes in your state budget and give work to local people. We would be very pleased to increase the transit of our goods through your ports and, at the same time, to receive imports through them.”

The capacity of Latvian ports would allow such quantities to be processed, the Minister believes. The main problem is how to bring grain from Ukraine to Latvia.

It is not realistic to carry such quantities in trucks, but the railway infrastructure is not ready for the Ukraine-Latvia route through Poland.

“We do not have the same width of the railway with Poland so that the grain can be transported from Ukraine through Poland,” the Transport Minister said.

Therefore, grain must be transhipped to other trains creating congestion on the Polish-Lithuanian border. There are also various bureaucratic barriers to the transit of Ukrainian products, which the Ministers of Transport of the Baltic States will try to address when meeting their Polish counterpart.

If the Baltic States and Poland are able to reach an agreement on a common position, the next step will be to ask the European Commission for support for the adjustment of rail infrastructure so that such a corridor can start operating.

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