Russian ambassador: criticism will mean less cargo

The Russian Federation's ambassador to Latvia, Alexander Veshnyakov, said Monday that trade between the two neighbors was in robust shape despite mutual sanctions - but warned that criticism of Russia would likely result in less cargo transiting through Latvian ports.

While not denying that sanctions had taken some toll on trade, and that a subsequent collapse in the value of the ruble was hurting the Russian economy, Veshnyakov nevertheless painted an upbeat picture.

"The EU sanctions are one of the reasons for deterioration of our economic situation. Coupled with a rather steep decline of oil prices, this has caused also a drop in the value of the ruble. But the embargo on agricultural products introduced by Russia in response to the sanctions from the EU and other countries has affected your market, in particular, the dairy industry, and the loss to this sector is obvious,” the Russian ambassador said.

Latvian-Russian trade turnover has not decreased, Veshnyakov said, adding that the mutual trade turnover was likely to have increased around 20 percent in 2014.

"Based on the data of the Russian customs, we expect that trade turnover with Latvia in 2014 might be over 13 billion US dollars. In 2013 this turnover was more than 11 billion US dollars,” he said.

The Russian ambassador said that cooperation with Latvia in transport also was continuing for now but "sanctions and hostile rhetoric" were a cause of concern.

He said that Latvia has long been aware of Russia’s plans to develop own ports and it was only natural that Russia wanted to re-direct its cargos to those ports once they were ready in order to get maximum return on its investments. "Also, goods and cargos go where there is a favorable economic and political atmosphere,” Veshnyakov said, in an apparent hint that objections to Russian military aggression in Ukraine would see a drop in cargo volumes though Latvian ports.

"If the positive developments in the Latvian-Russian relations that I have mentioned increased – and I would like very much that they should increase – I think that there will be less concerns about the reduction in trade and cargo flows. But in case of an ebb in those developments, the forecasts for this year most probably will not be optimistic,” the Russian ambassador said.

Economy
Economy