Despite Diminished Trade Ties With Russia, Port of Riga Thrives

Courtesy Free Port of Riga

Published Aug 21, 2022 12:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

Historically, Russia and the Baltic nations have enjoyed close economic ties, but these linkages have diminished since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Since then, the Baltic nations have faced a difficult task in re-aligning their markets as sanctions against Russia intensified.

When the Free Port of Riga, Latvia’s largest port, released its performance report for its half of this year, it offered an important view into the progress of the trade shift.

Latvia has historically been dependent on Russia for fuel supplies, metals and wood needed by local manufacturers. In addition, many local businesses have Russian owners and suppliers, which raises concerns over violations of EU’s sanctions against Russia. However, according to the report released by the Freeport of Riga Authority (FRA), performance at Latvia’s major port has remained relatively stable and even recorded a marginal increase.

In the first seven months of this year, the Freeport of Riga’s cargo turnover reached 13.2 million tons, a gain of 1.52 million tons over the same period last year. The positive trend was driven by an increase on the volume of containerized cargo handled. During the period, the Port of Riga processed 2.75 million tons of containerized cargo, a 13.4 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

“The Port of Riga continues to work in a sustained way. We are now preparing for the new grain harvest and, accordingly, the agricultural cargo volume growth in the month of August.  At the same time, we are actively working on attracting cargo from other segments - last month we signed a cooperation agreement with the port of Gdynia (Poland). The world’s leading mineral fertilizer producer and distributor Yara has just opened a packaging and storage warehouse at Riga Nordic Terminal, so we are looking forward to the near future with cautious optimism,” said Ansis Zeltins, the Freeport of Riga CEO.

The Free Port of Riga is used as a transshipment port in the Baltic Sea Corridor, where traditionally it has handled the export of Russian coal and oil products. However, in the last few months, the amount of coal handled at the port has decreased, and it only processed 240,000 tons in July – a fraction of the usual amount.