According to LETA’s estimates, this represents a 36.8 percent drop from the cargo turnover reported by the Ventspils port terminals for December 2018.
In the full 2019, the port’s terminals handled 20.5 mln tons of cargo, the spokeswoman said.
Ievina noted that in December last year the port’s operations were affected by the sanctions imposed by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) against Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs (For Latvia and Ventspils), which initially were applied also to the Freeport of Ventspils Authority. For two days in December there were no ships in the port, but the situation was quickly dealt with and operations at the port resumed as normal.
On Wednesday, January 8, Transport Minister Talis Linkaits (New Conservative Party, JKP) met with representatives of Ventspils port terminals to discuss the situation and hear their future plans.
In the spokeswoman’s words, the representatives of the port terminals were cautious in their forecasts, admitting that long-term effects from the US sanctions were hard to estimate.
Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry said on Facebook that Linkaits visited Ventspils where he met with the Freeport of Ventspils CEO Andris Purmalis, the port’s board chairperson Inguna Strautmane, board member Girts Valdis Kristovskis (Unity) and Baiba Vilipa, a board member of Ventas Osta, to discuss the situation in the Freeport of Ventspils and steps necessary to ensure its smooth functioning, as well as the planned gradual transfer of the Freeport of Ventspils Authority’s functions to Ventas Osta.
As reported, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) on December 9 imposed sanctions on a number of natural and legal persons in Europe, Asia and Latin America, including on Latvia’s Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs, based on the so-called Magnitsky Act.
OFAC listed four organizations that belong to or are controlled by Lembergs – Vetspils Freeport Administration, Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Agency, and the Latvian Transport Business Association.
To deal with Lembergs’ influence in the Freeport of Ventspils, the government decided to take over the ports of Ventspils and Riga and later established Ventas Osta company which will gradually take charge of the port’s operations.
On December 18, OFAC lifted sanctions against the Freeport of Ventspils and the Freeport of Ventspils Authority.