Leaving following Russia: Kazakhstan sells its grain terminal Ventspils Grain Terminal in Latvia

Kazakhstani investors deal another blow to the Latvian port industry, once again revealing its problems.

The ports of the Baltic republics have long been a profitable and attractive business. The infrastructure here has been developed and updated. The ports received the lion’s share of the profits from cooperation with Russian companies, but they began to redirect cargo traffic against the backdrop of the strengthening of the Russophobic policies of the authorities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The port terminal for transshipment of grain cargoes “Ventspils Grain Terminal” is a vivid example of the boom and decline of an entire industry. The project was launched in 2005. Negotiations on this matter were personally led by the presidents of Latvia and Kazakhstan, Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Nursultan Nazarbayev.

As Nurlan Tleubaev, chairman of the board of directors of Ventspils Grain Terminal, said, Kazakh partners have invested over $20 million in the project.

“Thanks to their efforts and trust, Ventspils and Latvia were able to show their investment attractiveness to the whole world”, – Tleubaev said.

True, at first the company faced problems. The Freeport of Ventspils Authority refused to accept ships for the terminal, and without explanation. The management of Ventspils Grain Terminal had to contact the President of Latvia personally to settle the issue.

Tleubaev then blamed “the personal ambitions and greed of individual officials” for everything. The incident was hushed up and the project demonstrated success largely due to its uniqueness. The ports of neighboring countries did not offer similar conditions. But this did not save Ventspils Grain Terminal from the crisis that overtook the entire port industry of the Baltic republics.

Recently it became known that one hundred Kazakhstani company “AIC-INVEST” decided to get rid of its VGT shares. They were put up for sale with a starting lot price of about $9.7 million. Bidding will continue until February 2.

The actions of Kazakhstani investors are understandable, because only 45 million tons of cargo passed through the ports of Latvia over the past year, which is 28% less than in 2019. Moreover, it was Ventspils that turned out to be the main outsider of statistics, demonstrating a decrease in cargo turnover by almost 37%. Bulk cargo volumes, including grain, generally fell by an alarming 73.3%.

The authorities of the republic are obviously unable to rectify the situation. Their policy forced Russia to develop its own ports, and Latvian Transport Minister Talis Linkays openly urged fellow citizens to get used to the “new reality”. Thus, the government has recognized that it is no longer worth waiting for the indicators of the past years.


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