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Port of Tallinn cannot completely replace lost Russian cargo transit

Valdo Kalm.
Valdo Kalm. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Port of Tallinn is unlikely to be able to completely replace its lost cargo volume which has dropped by almost 30 percent – almost five million tons – year-on-year due to sanctions on Russia.

Valdo Kalm, chairman of the company's board, said the significant drop in cargo volumes clearly shows there was still a lot of Russian transit a year ago. But now it has completely dried up.

"It certainly reflects the decline in our exports, so it certainly affects us. Perhaps it is also the decline in manufacturing industry exports, which will then also have an impact on the decline in containers and trucks, or ro-ro [Roll-on/roll-off] in technical jargon," said Kalm.

He said many companies are looking for new opportunities and are trying to move to other product groups.

"In the long term, the north-south corridor could replace the loss of transit that has now been lost here over the past few years, if Rail Baltic is completed. There are hopes it could be five to six million tonnes. It's a very large amount, so it may be replaced at some point in the long term, but certainly not in the short term, and it's certainly not liquid freight," said Kalm.

Mihkel Nestor. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

SEB Bank Analyst Mihkel Nestor said: "The outlook is: wait and see. In particular, as far as the export situation is concerned, there is no sign of any rapid change. Our main trading partners are and will remain the Nordic countries, where the economic situation is clearly weaker than elsewhere in Europe."

The analyst said employment decreased last year in export-related sectors, such as manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing. 

But Kalm does not see any wave of layoffs in the near future.

"In fact, some of our operators, especially those who were in transit, have already been made redundant. These redundancies and efficiency exercises have all been completed already," he said.

Nestor said: "So far, the impact has fortunately remained modest, so let's say that the redundancies that have occurred, the reduction in the number of employees, has not been dangerous in terms of the Estonian macroeconomy."

Muuga Harbor, operated by the Port of Tallinn. Source: ERR

While cargo volumes fell, the number of passengers transiting the port of Tallinn increased by 13 percent or 900,000 passengers last year.

The Port of Tallinn owns two passenger harbors the Old City Harbor in Tallinn, and Saaremaa Harbor on the island of Saaremaa.

Additionally, it has two cargo harbors, Muuga Harbour close to Tallinn, and Paldiski South Harbor.

Last year, eight million passengers and 13 million tonnes of cargo passed through the harbors. 

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Editor: Mari Peegel, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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