New Cooperation Opportunities with the Chinese Great Stone Industrial Park for the Port of Riga

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“Baltic Container Terminal”, the largest container terminal of the port of Riga, signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Chinese holding company “China Merchants Group” (CMG) while taking part in the Belt & Road Forum for Regional Cooperation and Development “Great Stone Industrial Park - Global Opportunities” in Minsk. The memorandum envisages cooperation by promoting container cargo shipments between China’s Great Stone industrial park in Belarus and the “Baltic Container Terminal”. For the port of Riga, this means an opportunity to increase container transhipment volumes and to demonstrate its competitiveness with respect to the port of Klaipeda, which can be considered the fiercest competitor within the framework of this project.

CMG is an investor and terminal operator of international importance that owns 30 ports in 16 countries. One of the current projects of CMG is the construction and development of Great Stone — an industrial park and logistics centre in Belarus, near Minsk. High-quality and effective logistics play an important role in reaching the goals of Chinese businessmen to turn Great Stone into a profitable Chinese distribution centre. As Belarus does not have sea ports of its own, cargo transportation has been envisaged through Lithuanian and Latvian ports.

Since the very beginning of the project, the port of Riga has been actively communicating and searching for cooperation opportunities with developers of the Great Stone logistics centre, including Chinese holding company CMG, to demonstrate its competitiveness compared to the port of Klaipeda, which, due to its geographic location, has always been the most advantageous choice for the transportation of cargo from the Minsk area. During a visit by CMG representatives last year, 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.

Involvement of all the players in the Latvian transit sector and demonstrating a single Latvian transit corridor offer will play a key role in ensuring successful cooperation with CMG and cargo transit from the Great Stone industrial park. In this context, Tālis Linkaitis, Minister for Transport, during his speech at the international Belt & Road Forum for Regional Cooperation and Development “Great Stone Industrial Park - Global Opportunities”, stated emphatically: “Latvia is ideally suited to cooperation with countries that do not have access to the sea, providing them with multimodal transport solutions with unhindered access to three Latvian sea ports, Riga, Ventspils and Liepāja, as well as to the main navigation routes. We are also able to provide the most extensive international air transport in the Baltic states, as well as efficient road and railway transport all over Eurasia”.