Port of Tallinn Hopes for Greater Container Volumes, Criticizes New Border Rule
A view of the Old City Harbor ( Photo: Postimees/Scanpix )
The Port of Tallinn's supervisory board said at a review of its January figures that it was satisfied that the network of harbors, the fourth-largest in the region, was fending well in competition.
In 2011, growth was seen in all major groups of goods except for bulk goods. January volumes were down 3 percent overall compared to January 2011 but exceeded the company's projections in all categories.
Liquid cargoes - down 10 percent in January compared to 12 months ago - were the biggest positive surprise. The year-on-year drop was expected to be greater there.
But containerized cargoes, on which the company stakes its hopes as Russian ports exert more direct control of oil export, are a source of concern, said Neinar Seli, chairman of the supervisory board.
"Even though the growth in containerized cargoes is comparable to that of competitors, we still hold a fairly modest position in absolute figures," said Seli at the meeting in Paldiski on February 28.
Russia controls more than half of the volume of goods handled by ports on the eastern shore of the Baltic, with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania holding 14.1, 19.4 and 13.1 percent respective shares.
Although passenger transport posted an all-time record in 2011, the board also criticized a new immigration rule agreed by Estonia and two Nordic countries that could make its St. Petersburg cruise line unattractive for Russian tourists.
Starting tomorrow, all passengers will have to go through passport check upon departure and arrival from every port en route.
Seli said that the cruise line has the potential to bring one million more tourists a year to Estonia in the future, but that the rule would mean that passengers would have to stand in line on eight occasions during the cruise and add hours to the trip. It would also mean that Russian citizens would need a multiple-entry Schengen visa.