State Should Boost Ailing Transit Sector, Says Businessman ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonia is leaving its terminals empty and neighboring countries are pulling ahead in the transit game, says Arnout Lugtmeijer, the head of the nation's largest transit company, Vopak E.O.S.

“Companies have made investments to boost their competitiveness, but that is not enough,” Lugtmeijer told Eesti Päevaleht on Wednesday, adding that the government need to focus more on the sector.

He said the recent drop in transit cargo volumes have not happened overnight, but the wheels began to turn 6-7 years ago, and while Estonia's volumes keep dropping (20 percent last year), Latvia and Finland have reversed the trend. He said Latvia has managed relations with export states better.

The state is focusing on tourism and IT, but IT could move to India or China in a day, Lugtmeijer said, adding that Estonia has the best coal terminal on the coast of the Baltic Sea and a grain terminal that was the Soviet Union's largest, both standing unused.

Tiit Vähi, ex-prime minister and current head of the supervisory board at Port of Sillamäe, said at the TransEstonia conference on Wednesday that Estonia began losing transit deals in 2007 after the Bronze Soldier riots, which were heavily criticized by Russia.

Vähi calculated the loss to the Estonian economy at around 500 million euros annually.

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