Led by Kaspars Ozoliņš, Under-Secretary of State in the Latvian Ministry of Transport, a delegation of leading transport and logistics companies in Latvia visited the ports of Hamburg and Lübeck last week.
The programme for the most important stops in the Port of Hamburg included a meeting at Hamburg City Hall with Dr. Torsten Sevecke, Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economics, Transport and Innovation. In the course of this, Kaspars Ozoliņš and Ingo Egloff, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing (HHM), signed a Memorandum of Understanding, aiming to strengthen and expand cooperation between the Latvian ports of Riga, Ventspils and Liepāja and those in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.
In the memorandum the partners agreed to a more intensive exchange of data and experience;
joint drafting and implementation of international cooperation projects; and
further cooperation in developing intermodal transport services between Europe and Asia.
“Latvia and Germany are already partners, but further scope still exists for improved and stronger cooperation with the most significant regions and areas of the economy. We are delighted to have given the starting signal today for a close partnership with Germany’s largest seaport,” said Under-Secretary Kaspars Ozoliņš. Ingo Egloff added: “Trade and shipping have linked Hamburg and Latvia since the days of the Hanseatic League. That is all the more reason for us to pool resources to demonstrate our close alliance on the global stage.”
For Northern European ports, the Baltic region is a very attractive market, with stiff competition for cargo and shipments. At the interface with worldwide overseas services, Hamburg assumes the function of a central hub for the Baltic region. Good infrastructure links with the Port of Lübeck also offers optimal solutions for trailer and ferry services to and from Latvia. The two ports are both keen to further expand existing good relations with the country.
After joint events in Latvia – in 2016 in Riga and 2018 in Liepaja – Marina Basso Michael, HHM’s Head of Market Development for the Baltic region/Eastern Europe, was for the first time welcoming a Latvian delegation in Hamburg. “Mutual visits lead to more meaningful dialogue between existing and potential trading partners. Latvian and German companies and ports benefit equally from this,” said Basso Michael.
In 2018 seaborne container throughput between the Port of Hamburg and Latvia reached a total of 100,175 TEU – 20-ft standard containers. The three Latvian ports of Riga, Ventspils and Liepāja handled a total of 66 million tons in 2018, making them the market leaders in the Baltic. The Port of Hamburg is linked by altogether four liner services with Riga as Latvia’s largest port. Yet with its Stena Line ferry link with Liepāja, the Port of Lübeck is also a significant hub for German-Latvian trade flows. “For services to the Baltic states and Russia, Latvia, and Liepāja in particular, is a strategically important partner. We are intending to do a great deal to further boost the Lübeck – Liepāja axis,” declared Sebastian Jürgens, CEO of the Port of Lübeck.
During their visits in Hamburg and Lübeck, members of the 15-strong delegation also displayed interest in rail sector infrastructure. Along with its well equipped Baltic ports, Latvia also possesses an excellent rail system. Collection and delivery of bulk and general cargoes handled in the ports – from/for the hinterland is by rail. To be implemented by April, the EU project ‘North Sea Baltic Connector of Regions – NSB Core’ also addresses this topic. Port of Hamburg Marketing has been a partner in this international project since 2016. With Latvian and other partners, HHM is investigating the opportunities for a multimodal link between the Baltic countries and the European mainline rail network. One of the project’s most important aims is to open up fresh potential for business by integrating Rail Baltica into the European rail system. An application for CoReX, a follow-up of this project, was submitted in January. This scheme, on which German and Latvian partners wish to work together, aims to connect Rail Baltica with the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) and to develop measures in support of opening up fresh areas of business for the partners involved.