Data from the Ministry of Transport show that in April, compared to March, coal and petroleum product cargo reduced, chemical and fertilizer cargo decreased significantly, while container cargo volumes increased.
Rīga Free Port Manager Ansis Zeltiņš said that this year 7 to 10% more cargo was transhipped at Riga port than a year earlier and the main increase was in the container cargo segment. 26% of the cargo handled at Riga port was forestry cargo.
"The good news is that, both in the context of Covid-19, geopolitics, and the war in Ukraine, the port has not 'fallen' at the moment [..] Timber and cereals – they are the main categories this year and [they] have a link to the war in Ukraine. It's the container segment because very many companies, first of all, leave the Russian market and refuse to work with Russian ports, consequently, they have been trying to evacuate their containers from Russia since the beginning of the war and our geography gives us the opportunity to handle these loads. Cruise traffic has recovered. The ships have chosen additional routes for those cruise operators who have left St. Petersburg. But on the other hand, for one large part of the world, the war in Ukraine is a war in Europe, so they think it is dangerous to go to the Baltic,” said Zeltiņš.
The Bank Citadele economist Mārtiņš Āboliņš said that when assessing the growth of the transit sector this year, it should be noted that in the last 2 years the volume of transit goods accounted for only half of what it was before.
"This year the volume of freight transported by rail has increased slightly compared to last year, but it should be noted that last year the level was extremely low. [..] Secondly, when the war in Ukraine began, while sanctions were being discussed, exports from Russia surged. [..] Russia is trying to export what it can before sanctions are in place," Mārtiņš Āboliņš said.
Āboliņš estimated that local cargo in ports would continue to increase, while transit cargo would be reduced.
Traffic Minister Tālis Linkaits (Conservatives) said the ministry is currently working to attract cargo from Central Asia as it estimates that the flow of goods from Russia and Belarus could cease altogether.
"We are also working with our Central Asia partners to attract additional cargo. At the moment, we see increasing cargo volumes from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, but these are, of course, very much dependent on whether Russia allows these cargos to pass through its territory,” Linkaits said.
The transit sector will be one of the areas most affected by the war in Ukraine and by sanctions against Russia and Belarus, as many goods are imported by rail through Russia and Belarus.