Latvia says it could start exporting Ukrainian grain in September
The discussion concerning the possibilities of exporting Ukrainian agricultural products keeps unfolding. Latvia insists that the Baltic route can work and that Latvian railway infrastructure and ports could accommodate between half and one million tons of grain volumes annually. Moreover, according to Rinalds Plavnieks, chairman of the state-owned railway company, grain transport via Latvia could commence as soon as September.
In a statement to the Latvian public broadcaster, Plavnieks said that the Baltics present an opportunity for Ukrainian exports. However, he acknowledged that it is a costly opportunity because the rail route to Baltic ports crosses Poland and entails two gauge changes.
Indeed, as Edvins Berzins, president of the Ukrainian Logistics Alliance, explained before to RailFreight.com, the Baltics could be a viable solution, mainly in terms of capacity, however. “The Baltic states have much capacity left, and this is especially true for the ports. At the same time, railway companies and ports of the three countries are trying to compensate for their losses after stopping business with Russia, so they need more volumes,” he said.
Reports from Latvia speak of a 20-25 per cent decrease in rail freight volumes this year. Understandably, Latvia is looking for ways to compensate for lost volumes and fill up free capacity. In this sense, grain volumes from Ukraine could be an ideal solution and a win-win situation for both sides.
Costs remain the main issue
No matter how many proposals are on the table and how ambitious they are, the issue for Ukrainian grain exports via rail is still the pricing. Andrii Dykun, chairman of the Ukrainian Agri Council, said to RailFreight.com a few days ago that the EU urgently needs to intervene and improve transport prices; otherwise, it does not make much sense for Ukrainians to put their products on trains since it is very expensive.