Armenia delays launch of its Black Sea ferry amid anti-Russian sanctions
Armenia’s Black Sea ferry transportation
The launch of the Armenian ferry is delayed, the reason being the sanctions against Russia, Minister of Economy of Armenia Vahan Kerobyan announced.
He stated that regular ferry traffic across the Black Sea would begin on June 15. This was planned in early May. The Armenian government considers ferry transportation as an alternative to the only land route through the Upper Lars checkpoint connecting the country with Russia. This mountain pass often closes due to bad weather or landslides. Armenian cargoes are often stuck in long queues due to the small capacity of Upper Lars.
The capacity of the Upper Lars pass is 170 trucks and 200 cars per day in both directions. However, the actual number of traffic is several times higher, and in summer it increases so much that it leads to constant queues.
Meanwhile, Russia is the main and largest foreign trade partner of Armenia.
According to the Minister of Economy, the Dutch company APM Terminals, which manages the Georgian port of Poti, imposed restrictions on Armenian ferry traffic:
“Many European companies are imposing sanctions on Russia. Similarly, APM, being one of the largest shipping companies in the world, has imposed sanctions against Russia. Now we are negotiating so that these sanctions do not apply to our ferries. And, in fact, they do not have the right to do so.
The Minister recalled that Armenia had never had a regular ferry service. He said that he was sympathetic to the problems that had arisen. He considered certain risks natural, but assured that the government was doing everything to “make this service available to Armenian exporters and importers as soon as possible”.
Vahan Kerobyan assured that everything was ready for launch, the only thing left was to obtain the last permit from the Dutch company. However, he did not name specify when this reponse should be expected.
Constant problems with the Upper Lars checkpoint have a negative impact on the Armenian economy, in particular, on exports. The Ministry of Economy proposed to the government, at first, to fully reimburse the expenses of Armenian companies that will transport their goods on ferries along the route Poti-port “Kavkaz”-Poti, from the state treasury.
The government decided to take this step, believing that “reimbursement of transportation costs for ferry transportation will become a new impetus for the Armenian economy and will compete with Upper Lars”. This issue will be resolved by renting a ferry.
However, full subsidies will not last forever. According to the Prime Minister of Armenia, it is expected that “the economic scheme will work by itself”, the government is only creating infrastructure.
The ferry will be able to carry cargo equal in volume to 40 railway wagons and 50 trucks. Ferry service Poti-port “Caucasus” is planned to be carried out twice a week.
Ferry transportation is estimated to increase tax revenue by $2.7 million during the year.