Lithuania and Ukraine aim to develop economic relations through the seaports of both countries


2021 07 08

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On 7 July, Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania Marius Skuodis and Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov met in Klaipėda and discussed cooperation between the countries in the transport sector and possible new projects. The countries intend to strengthen cooperation in the areas of railway and transport digitalisation, as well as increase the capacity potential of the seaports of both countries. During the study visit, the Ukrainian Minister was introduced to the opportunities and capacity of Klaipėda State Seaport and JSC Lithuanian Railways.


“In today’s geopolitical context, when talking about diversification of countries, freight and goods, Ukraine is the direction that has a lot of new and unused potential. One of the things we noticed today in particular is the transportation of semi-trailers via railways from Ukraine and Turkey to Lithuania and further north. To make this possible, Ukraine has to do very little – to change some legal acts so that semi-trailers would be regarded as cargo rather than a means of transport. The Ukrainian Minister and I decided not to wait for the amendments of legal acts, but to start pilot projects right away, and I am very happy about this,” says Minister M. Skuodis.


The seaports of both countries play a significant role in strengthening economic cooperation between the countries. According to Minister M. Skuodis, the Seaport of Klaipėda can provide communication for Ukrainian freight and has the potential to become the northern gateway from Ukraine to Scandinavia. At the same time, Lithuania seeks a more active involvement of Ukrainian Black Sea ports in Lithuanian businesses so that Odessa would become the southern gateway for Lithuania.


Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine O. Kubrakov, who is staying in Klaipėda, has been introduced to the transportation of semi-trailers via railway transport – it is a new project initiated by Lithuania, which connects railways and seaports in the route between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, which is also a good response to the European Green Deal. JSC Lithuanian Railways invite interested Ukrainian businesses to start a pilot project for this route as early as September of this year.


Minister M. Skuodis notes that large flows of cargo are transported between the regions of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, however, Ukrainian cargo only constitutes 1–2 % of all cargo in the Seaport of Klaipėda, while Ukrainian cargo transported via railways constitutes 3–4 %. The flow of cargo has potential to become ten times larger – it is an incentive to look for new ways and means to increase it.


“Considering the political and economic realities, our current priority is to diversify freight flows as much as possible as regards the geographic aspect, clients and freight, so that the dependence on one or other region would be minimal,” says Minister M. Skuodis.


In Klaipėda, investments are already intensively flowing in the diversification of freight geography and all activities of the seaport. The deepening of the navigation channel and the expansion of the southern part are expected to attract new investments and increase the competitiveness of the Seaport of Klaipėda.


In the area of railway transport, connections are actively being developed with Western European markets, Poland and Ukraine. A European gauge Rail Baltica railway has already been constructed from Kaunas to the intermodal terminal in Palemonas, which provides direct access to the European freight market.


In March of this year, Minister of Transport and Communications M. Skuodis visited Kiev for the Council of Presidents of Ukraine and Lithuania, where he met Vladyslav Kryklii, who was then the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine. During this visit, the Lithuanian and Ukrainian ministers signed a Memorandum of Intent regarding the cooperation in the areas of freight and passenger transport via railway and digital permits to carry out international freight and passenger transport by roads. This opens up new business opportunities for both countries and promotes innovation.