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Kārlis Danēvičs, Board member, Head of Credits and Risk at SEB Banka
Latvia desperately needs a hero to clean up the mess in one of its most corrupt sectors. Where is Heracles these days?
Simon Boddy, Chairman of Management Board of Ventspils Nafta addressed AmCham on the challenges facing Latvia's transit sector. He emphasized Latvia's advantageous geographical location being at the crossroads between the EU, Russia and Belarus. From his perspective, Russia's market is of particular significance having a transit function of Far East cargo via the Trans-Siberian Railway connection to Western Europe. According to Boddy, it is strategic location that offers opportunities for development within the Baltic States and beyond, and explains why numerous international companies have chosen Riga as the base for their headquarters.
Boddy was candid to speak about the corruption encountered in the sector. He announced that about 25% of rail tariffs are "recycled" and suggested to face the issue and sort it out as soon as possible. The best way to encourage investment is to ensure there is a level playing field. "It takes tremendous amount of political courage, and Latvia has to tackle that. To encourage investment, a level playing field should be there," Boddy said.
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Signe Velina, Market Access Manager Latvia of Johnson & Johnson