In terms of diversification of cargo and points of origin, cooperation between the Freeport of Riga Authority and partners from China is becoming increasingly active. The Chinese cargo market, potential transportation routes through the Port of Riga and attracting Chinese investment have been the focus of the Freeport of Riga Authority for a long time. Cooperation has now become even more active and partners from China are showing a strong interest in the Port of Riga.
At the beginning of last week, representatives of the holding company China Merchants Group (CMG) visited the Freeport of Riga Authority. CMG is an investor and terminal operator of international importance, which owns 30 ports in 16 countries. One of the current projects of CMG is the construction and development of the Great Stone — an industrial park and logistics center in Belarus, near Minsk. High-quality and effective logistics play an important role in reaching the goals of Chinese businessmen to turn the Great Stone into a profitable Chinese distribution center. As Belarus has no sea ports of its own, the most cost effective route is being sought for cargo transportation to the ports of Lithuania and Latvia.
“It is very important that at this early stage we have begun cooperation on this project with partners from China and Belarus. When the Great Stone is complete and ready for work, logistic routes will already have been established and our involvement would be too late. Therefore, we must look at the current activities from a future perspective,” Deputy CEO of the Freeport of Riga Authority for Legal and Administrative Matters Mārtiņš Ziemanis is convinced.
During the visit of CMG representatives, a strategic partnership agreement was signed between the Freeport of Riga Authority and CMG which involves collaboration in several areas, including cargo transit and implementation of joint investment projects. “The fact that the initiative to visit the Freeport of Riga and sign the partnership agreement this time came from the Chinese partners gives a positive outlook for future collaboration with CMG,” Ziemanis concludes.
Since the beginning of this year, the transport sector of Latvia has been actively communicating and seeking cooperation opportunities with the Geely Group, an automotive manufacturing company in China. This international giant of the automotive industry manufactures and sells brands such as Geely Auto, Lotus, Lynk & Co, Proton, Volvo, London EV Company and Yuan Cheng. The Chinese group owns such well known European automobile manufacturers as Volvo Cars, the British taxi manufacturer The London Electric Vehicle Company, and the British sports car brand Lotus Cars.
In order to service Russia and CIS markets, the Geely Group has opened an automobile factory in Belarus, where effective logistical solutions are required to receive components from China and further distribute the final production. Hence representatives of the Freeport of Riga, together with representatives of Latvijas Dzelceļš, the Port of Riga and the Ministry of Transport last week visited China to meet with the management of Geely Group and present a detailed offer for collaboration.
“Currently, the container flow to the Geely factory in Belarus is 140 containers per week, which in the future may increase up to 200 containers per week. The Port of Riga and other transport sector players aimed to present the management of Geely Group a unified container transit offer through the Port of Riga and convince the management of the Chinese company about the advantages our transport corridor brings compared with the transportation route through Klaipeda. This may be called a short-term or sprint project. The second is a marathon type of project, which may be achieved in the long run. At the moment Geely Group mainly sells its cars in China, Belarus and CIS markets, and the next logical step for the company’s development would be entry into European markets. Therefore, we propose that the Geely Group find growth in the territory of the Port of Riga by creating a distribution center and also a future production center,” Ziemanis shared the aims of the visit.